Greg Norman

GREG Norman has no regrets about the turmoil his proposed World Tour caused in the mid-1990s and still believes his suggested model could work.

At the time, Norman suggested an eight-tournament, $25m series to be played in the US, Canada, Scotland, Japan and Spain.

The winner of each event would have received $600,000 while the last placegetter was guaranteed $30,000.

The player of the year would have received a $1m bonus and each player who signed up for the series would have received a $50,000 travel allowance.

But Norman’s idea stunned the golf world, divided players and caused many heated arguments.

Norman was accused of trying to topple the PGA Tour and turn it into a secondary tour, devoid of the world’s best players.

The Shark argued that he only wanted the top 30 or 40 golfers to compete against one another more regularly all over the globe.

The PGA Tour opposed the concept and even threatened to expel any card-carrying PGA player who partook in the tour.

Norman’s proposed tour never had the commitment of the top players although his good friend, Nick Price, supported the idea saying the Shark’s “intentions were right”.

Norman also had the support of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Fifteen years on and Norman still believes in the concept.

“It’s still a possibility and the best model,” Norman said during an exclusive interview with Inside Golf.

“I think the European Tour should have taken it on big time because they are basically doing that now.

“They (European Tour) could have taken themselves out of the box a little bit and taken a look at what I was basically recommending and wanting to implement.

“They could have easily done it and they could have captured the hearts and minds of every golfer, spectator and corporation around the world.

“They still have a chance.”

Legendary South African golfer Gary Player said recently he supported a concept of a World Tour.

“We must have world staged tournaments in all of our respective countries where the players have got to travel,” Player said.

“Too many players win tournaments in their respective countries that can’t play very well outside their countries.

A man who can travel and win tournaments – that’s who the real champion is.

“If you get on an aeroplane and go and play in different countries where you can’t understand the editorial, you don’t like the food, you don’t like this and that and can still win – that’s a champion.

“We must do that for the good of the game,” Player insisted.

“We must promote the game, which is hurting at the moment.

“So we must come up with new ideas, we need fresh blood to think of brand new ideas because golf is in a fix at the moment.

“The US PGA is realising now, and Greg Norman has mentioned it, that with the pinch they are going to have big tournaments in places like China and India.”

Norman agreed with Player.

“OneAsia has a chance because of the influence of the growth of the game of golf in Asia in the next 25 years,” Norman said.

“It’s going to be a huge growth population so there is going to be a generation of young players come through that are going to be very good.

“It’s not going to happen in 10 years – it’ll take 25 years to do it but they will have the capabilities because of the locals like Korean KJ Choi, who will create a new wave of players coming through.

“Even from the women’s side, they have an influence.”

But it’s China that is golf’s sleeping giant, says Norman.

He said there were already more than three million golfers in China and that number is growing daily.

“The Chinese will be major players in the game of golf 20 years from now.

“They want to take the number of golfers in China from three million to 30 million in the next 15 years.”

About David Newbery

Chief writer David Newbery has been living, breathing and writing and editing golf for more than 30 years. His extensive knowledge of the game comes from covering golf around the world. Hired by Inside Golf in 2009, David previously worked as the editor of The Golfer for 25 years and before that worked for numerous daily newspapers in Australia and overseas. The Brisbane-based journalist describes his golf game as “a work in progress”, but has had the privilege of playing golf with some of the game’s best players including nine-time major winner Gary Player. David enjoys travelling, reading, music, photography and spending time with family and friends – on and off the golf course.


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