Aussie golf legend Greg Norman has opened up on the angst his biggest career gamble created with his father.
Norman this week gave rare public comments about his complex relationship with his 94-year-old father Mervyn during a fascinating podcast.
The 66-year-old revealed on the Four Courses podcast with Geoffrey Zakarian he is making moves to trim his $400 million business empire.
Norman also speaks about his private life in the interview, where he admits he made his dad east his words after going on to become one of the greatest golfers ever to come from Australia.
Norman has previously revealed his decision to abandon a career in the Royal Australian Air Force resulted in a “rift” with his father when he made the decision to pursue a career as a professional golfer.
Norman this week re-visited the decision that created a divide in their relationship.
“My dad never thought I’d be the golfer I became,” Norman said.
“He wanted me to be either in his engineering business or be a scholar or go on and do something else in the business world.
“We had a little bit of angst about it all when I told him — hey, I’m going to turn professional and I’m going to be an assistant pro and in three years’ time I’m going to play the tour. He’s looking at me like, ‘Are you crazy, you’re not good enough to do that, nobody in our family has been a professional sportsman or woman’.”
Norman’s career exploded from the moment he fell in love with the sport at the age of 16 — going from a handicap of 27 when he first started playing regularly to playing off scratch in the space of 18 months.
He was a professional and winning tournaments by the age of 21.
Norman, who grew up in Townsville before the family moved to Brisbane when he was a teenager, said his decision to focus on golf at the expense of his education strained his relationship with his dad.
“I walked away from a career. My father wasn’t impressed,” Norman said in a 2017 interview with ESPN’s Graham Bensinger.
“He didn’t know whether I’d be any good at the game of golf. Nobody did.
“They just had to accept it. They could see my commitment was second to none.”
Norman’s relationship with his father has repaired and Norman Sr has previously featured as a board member and investor in multiple companies that form part of the two-time major winner’s business portfolio.
It wasn’t always that way.
“It created a rift between my dad and myself. There’s no question about it,” Norman said.
“My dad was a professional. He had his own business and he was hoping I would go into the business. Follow in his footsteps, which every father would want.
“At the end of the day, we kind of separated a little bit. It just created a little bit of tension in there. Now it’s totally different.”
Normal says the friction resulted in him developing a crushing fear of failure that became part of his determination to become a success.
Since those days of his father’s doubt, Norman’s career includes a run of six years as the world No. 1 golfer and two famous wins at The British Open in 1986 and 1993.
“I was very determined because I could feel something within myself” Norman said this week.
“Going from 27 to scratch and winning in less than five years gave me a huge boost of confidence that everything I was doing was right.
“I was self-motivated. I kept pushing myself.”
He became a perfectionist. Working harder than anyone on the tour to climb to the very top of the sport.
Norman’s attention to detail is a crazy insight into how driven he had to be to prove himself as the best golfer on the planet.
“Each day was a new challenge for me. I kept copious notes. (For example) Yesterday with my seven-iron I was doing this … and why did I do this? And I hit this percentage of shots to the right and this percentage of shots to the left. I was always focused on my dispersion pattern. I was always focused on hitting the ball the right length.
“At the end of the day it was my recipe of how to scale up the ladder and I never had a top to the ladder, even when I reached No. 1 in the world, because I kept saying to myself if you get to No. 1 and the top of your ladder, there’s only one way to go — down. I never wanted to go down so I kept going up and up.
“As you get to the top echelon of anything it’s hard to get that much better. Sometimes you tinker when you shouldn’t be tinkering because you’re chasing perfection and golf is a game you really can’t chase to perfection.”