From Australia to Hilton Head, Greg Norman has played courses all over the world. The Shark gives us his answers in this edition of “My Courses.”
MY FAVORITE COURSE: The Composite Course at Royal Melbourne—one of the most natural courses in the world. Alister MacKenzie didn’t move any dirt. The flow of the course, the length—it tests every aspect of your game mentally and physically.
FIRST COURSE I EVER PLAYED: Magnetic Island Country Club off the coast of a town called Townsville in northeastern Queensland, Australia. It’s a nine-hole sand green golf course and that’s where I first played the game.
THE NEXT COURSE I’LL BE PLAYING: I just played my new course, Rancho San Lucas in Cabo, and my next round will be at Medalist Golf Club near West Palm Beach, Fla.
THE COURSE I’VE PLAYED MOST OFTEN: Royal Queensland Golf Club—I was an assistant pro there when I was 20–21 years old and I played just about every day of the week I could, sometimes 36 holes.
HARDEST COURSE I’VE EVER PLAYED: A tie between Shinnecock Hills and Carnoustie. I think Shinnecock is the hardest fairest golf course in the world. With Carnoustie, particularly in an Open Championship, it depends on the weather and how they set up the course—it is brutal. The routing is like a bowl of cooked spaghetti—everything goes in all different directions. No matter what direction you’re going it’s always into a cross-wind.
FAVORITE COURSE I’VE DESIGNED: Doonbeg in Ireland because we built it by hand and it was one of the most environmentally sensitive projects we’ve ever done of the 106 I’ve opened. We proved that the developer/golf architect and builder/environmentalist can work hand-in-glove to achieve everybody’s wishes.
A COURSE NOT IN THE WORLD TOP 100 THAT SHOULD BE: Harbour Town—it’s a classic Pete Dye. They use trees as hazards and as a test of shotmaking. There’s not much water there at all, but it’s one of the few golf courses where the greens are small and you really do have to shape your golf ball to score. To me, it should be in the Top 60.
A COURSE IN THE TOP 100 THAT SHOULDN’T BE: Valderrama with all the reverse camber fairways—if the hole goes dogleg left-to-right, the camber of the fairway will be right-to-left. It goes against the grain of my visual architecture. It’s a good golf course, but it’s a little bit out of balance for me from an architecture standpoint.
A COURSE IN THE TOP 100 THAT HAS MY NUMBER (GETS THE BEST OF ME): Winged Foot. I love the golf course, love the layout. I came close there in the 1984 U.S. Open but I’ve never really been able to unlock the code to it.
THE COURSE I’D PLAY IF I HAD JUST ONE MORE ROUND TO PLAY: St. Andrews backwards, because it was designed to be playable backwards, designed to go from the first tee to the 17th green. It’s just damn good.
THE COURSE I’D PLAY IF I COULD PLAY ONLY ONE COURSE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE: Royal Melbourne.
THE #1 COURSE ON MY BUCKET LIST: Like a lot of people, Pine Valley.