Prior to being named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, a Saudi Arabian backed group with plans to establish an elite golf league to rival the PGA Tour, Greg Norman's Golf Course Design had established itself as one of the most prominent 'celebrity' design firms in the game. It had a growing portfolio of courses in all corners of the globe, and in 2015 opened its 100th golf course, the relocated Eastern Golf Club in Melbourne.
Like other big ‘signature’ firms, much of the GNGCD design work is carried out on the ground by various design associates. For years the company had two design offices operating remotely of each other, but in mid-2010 it closed the Australian office to centralize operations. Clients in the Asia Pacific region are now serviced by Greg Norman’s North American team, based in Florida. That same team were presumably set to work on course designs in Saudi Arabia, had the Saudi golf league concept been more successful at luring superstar golfers to the Kingdom.
Norman’s American office has been responsible for some good golf at places like The Medalist (originally co-designed by Pete Dye but personally reworked by Norman) and Doonbeg in Ireland, which occupies some of the most attractive dunes in golf but has recently been redesigned by Martin Hawtree. The Australian office’s best were National Moonah in Victoria, Ellerston in New South Wales, The Grand in Queensland and Nirwana Bali in Indonesia. Other solid courses included The Vintage, Pelican Waters and the Norman Course at Mission Hills in China.
The suitability of the Greg Norman Golf Course Design brand for your project depends on many factors that should be carefully considered – including how important the quality of the final golf course is to the overall project, as well as the celebrity value or marketing benefit of the company involved. The legacy of being so closely aligned with leaders from Saudi Arabia is also a factor, along with brand saturation issues that exist with the Greg Norman name. The complexity of such an appointment may be discussed at any time with the Global Golf Group.
Disappointingly, the recent ReBranding of the Greg Norman Company has coincided with a new three-tier pricing structure for Greg Norman Golf Course Design – along similar lines to the offerings of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin and others. Clients can choose from the curiously named Eco Signature Design option or either a Signature Design or a GNGCD Design. One assumes that the involvement of Greg Norman himself, as well as the seniority of the design associate involved in the project, depends on the package selected. This is not a model for design that our industry should support. Greg Norman Golf Course Design’s commitment to a project should be complete, regardless of the size of the signature fee paid. Such a pricing structure makes it much harder to recommend this company for important work, and reinforces a popular belief within the industry that signature designers are more interested in accumulating clients than producing exceptional work.
For an independent appraisal of Greg Norman Golf Course Design’s portfolio, or for general design advice, please contact the Global Golf Group