Date: November 14, 2006
Author: Greg Norman

A great Aussie tradition

By Greg Norman I am tremendously proud of what I have done to represent Australia and represent the game of golf with honor and integrity. And that stems from something my first coach, Charlie Earp, said to me in an airport just before I boarded a plane in 1976 heading for California to play in the World Cup. Charlie said, Greg, everywhere you go, you re carrying the Australian flag with you. You re representing your country. Don t ever forget that. Here we are 30 years later and I still carry that life lesson with me. What do I think will be my greatest legacy on Australian golf? That&aposs an interesting question, and something I&aposve thought a bit about, particularly as it relates to the book I recently finished writing. I&aposm happy to report that there really isn t a final chapter, as there is always going to be something else that needs to be written. So, in terms of legacy, I couldn&apost even begin to answer that question right now. Remember, I&aposm only 51. There is so much more I see myself doing in the future, so whatever I say now will be different when they finally put me six feet under! I attribute my introduction to the game of golf to my Mother. I tagged along during a couple of her weekly games and even caddied for her once. Then, kind of on a whim, I borrowed her clubs one day and went straight to the 13th tee at Virginia Golf Club and had a hit. Most were poorly struck, but I did manage to make solid contact every now and then and I was immediately hooked. The rest is history. If it weren t for golf, I probably would have ended up in the Royal Australian Air Force. I have always been enamored with aviation, and I remember as a little kid going to air shows and admiring the skill of pilots who flew F-111 s. For a time, that s what I really wanted to do. My advice to young Australian golfing hopefuls stems from another pearl of wisdom from Charlie Earp: Just learn to hit the ball as hard as you possibly can, then figure out how to hit it straight. Honestly, I think formal lessons are important, but I think it&aposs most important to make sure people just enjoy the game. Don&apost get too technical in the beginning, especially with kids. Let them have fun. To be a successful golfer, focus is of paramount importance. You have to have confidence in your swing and that confidence comes from preparation. As I became more recognised, and as I developed other interests, I learned to compartmentalise my time very well on the course and off the course — for example with interviews, business meetings, etc. I ve trained myself to focus only on the task at hand. The same applies with work and other interests. It’s a discipline. You must continually challenge yourself to compartmentalize and give 100 percent of your time and devotion to each discipline without any spillover. Being back in my home country and competing in one of the oldest professional golf events in the world – being the Australian Open – is tremendously important to me. I will always support golf in Australia. We have a bunch of great players to carry the torch, and that is something that I am extremely proud of. I ve often said that the most important victory in my career was my very first, the 1976 West Lakes Classic. And of course my two Open Championships are something I will always cherish. At the same time, winning the Australian Open for the first time was hugely important because it was my National Open. Far and away my proudest moment is winning my first professional event. In terms of my overall appreciation for Australian golf, I would have to say it s the depth of talent and incredible success Aussies have had — particularly in recent years — on the world stage. It’s incredible when you think about it, that a country of 20 million has so many entries in each of golf’s major championships and so many in the top 100 in the world ranking. It’s a testament to the foundation that has been established in our country, and here s to a great future. See you at Royal Sydney for this year s MFS Australian Open.