A shark’s tale: part two

By | Category: Travel destinations

Continued from yesterday…

Norman’s first foray in the Caribbean came in 1997 with The River Course, Rio Grande Puerto Rico – an 18-hole, 6,945 yard course that winds its way around the Mameyes River with El Yungue National Forest serving as a breathtaking backdrop. This was followed by the Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay in 2003, a course Norman cites as one of his favourite places “to play day-in and day-out” and for good reason: this 18-hole championship course uses an environmentally friendly seashore paspalum grass offering a lush, deep green canopy, and features six holes on the Atlantic Ocean.

The golfing legend also has Anguilla’s first and best course, the18-hole, 7,100 yard Temenos on his resume, as well as a world class nine hole course in Grand Cayman’s Blue Tip at The Ritz-Carlton. Carved along a natural saltwater lagoon, Blue Tip features five long par fours and a 600 yard par five although this could be about to change; Norman’s golf design company, Great White Shark Enterprises, recently completed designing the expansion of Blue Tip, which will become part of the new Dragon Bay Resort.

In 2008, the golf superstar made the decision to retool the South Ocean Golf Club – now known as Blue Shark – in The Bahamas. “Blue Shark offered a rare opportunity as a course designer; to transform a popular and well designed existing layout into a new and entirely distinctive golfing experience,” the golfer cum entrepreneur says by way of explanation. He is evidently enamoured with how his latest Caribbean project – which he describes as “a classic Parkland course set on a rolling Oceanside topography” – has turned out claiming: “I believe we have turned a pig’s ear into a silk purse.”

Yet never one to rest on his laurels, Norman turned his attention to Le Paradis Praslin Bay – an 18 hole golf course showcasing St Lucia’s tropical vegetation. The sheer quality of design means you will come across few, if any, bland holes but standouts include the final four holes, which rise from the coastline to culminate at the 19th hole situated at an elevation of 280 feet. Le Paradis also offers first class club facilities should you fancy a post game massage or sauna at the spa, a 19th hole drink or dinner at one of the top class restaurants. So is the luxurious Le Paradis Praslin Bay Norman’s new favourite course? “That’s a tough question,” says the Shark. “Every time I come back from a site, I think it is going to my best course. I say that about all of them but that’s how I feel. I am always looking to improve.”

What all the courses have in common is their quintessential marriage of daring design elements and the land’s natural beauty. Natural topography, native vegetation, ocean views and local history have been preserved in a celebration of the culture of the Caribbean. All told, regardless of which of the regions’ Greg Norman designed courses you choose to play, you will never forget that you are in the Caribbean. “When players remember all 18 holes, that’s what great design is all about,” comments Norman.

Another part of the courses’ appeal is that they suit all playing styles and preferences, which might raise a few eyebrows among golfers who have graced the greens of Greg’s other courses. After all, the Australian is known for his tough love approach – the last four holes of his Earth Course in Dubai are said to be the hardest mile in world golf, although Norman is keen to counter this, claiming: “When I design a course, I create something that both challenges and accommodates everyone.”

His business endeavours, however, have expanded beyond golf course design and golf apparel, to encompass wine (Greg Norman Estate Wines), a restaurant, a turf company that has provided grass for two Super Bowls and the Sydney Olympics, and even an event management company: “I am very much a long term thinker, and back in the early 1990s, I wanted to make sure I had something to do beyond golf.” His booming business empire of which he is “just as proud of as I am of anything else”, has resulted in Norman being named the wealthiest Australian sportsman by Business Review Weekly for 12 consecutive years and allows him to splash his cash on watches (Greg owns more than 40 fine timepieces) and mega yachts (“the ultimate luxury”), despite playing less than ever. Nonetheless the world was reminded of the Shark’s status as one of golf’s greats during the 2008 British Open at Royal Birkdale – and how. The semi retired 53 year old carried a lead into the final day, on what was essentially an extended honeymoon for him and the glamour girl of his generation, Chris Evert. Ultimately, Norman finished third equal but his feats on the fairway resulted in him being crowned ‘Senior Player of the Year’ reinforcing that first and foremost Greg is a golfer.

Regardless of whether he is playing or planning, you can count on this one man multinational, whose motto is “attack life”, giving it his all: “I would like to be remembered as someone who gives absolutely everything. Someone who has no problem getting his fingers nails dirty.”

Tee time in the Caribbean

Classic (www.caribbeanclassic2011.com)
This annual golf event, took place at the PGA National Resort & Spa at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. For more information on April 2012’s event, keep checking www.caribbeangolfclassic.org

Amateur Golf Championship
The 55th Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship is taking place at Trinidad’s Millennium Lakes Golf & Country Club from August 1-6. For more information visit http://millenniumlakes.com

International Mixed Championship Golf Tournament

Week long 54 hole event for amateurs traditionally held at the Ocean Club Golf Course, Nassau, The Bahamas.






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