The man known as “The Shark” has been to the highest of highs - he was No. 1 in the world for 331 weeks - while also suffering through devastating defeats, such as giving up a six-shot lead to Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters. On Monday, he looked back at the mountaintop and the valley.
"Jack taught me to be a great winner," Norman said. "To be a great winner means you're very humble about it. And once you become a great winner, you learn to be an excellent loser. You're going to lose more than you win, and if you think about it, if you just relate it to the game of golf, you're definitely going to lose more than you win.
When asked what pushed him forward all of those years where he desperately wanted to stay on top, Norman remarked that it wasn't about success. “Fear of failure,” Norman said sharply. “I couldn't stand losing. Even when someone else was running away with the tournament and I was in 4th, I felt like I had to get to 2nd. If I hit a bad shot, I would go back on the range and hit that shot over and over.”
When the topic switched to the health of the game of golf in general, Norman was bullish on the game’s future given the “bottoming out” of the economy and the growing energy within the golf industry. “I think we saw what happened with the recession, and everyone looked hard at their disposable income,” Norman said. “Golf was something people could easily cut out because it is often expensive and takes up time. America is a resilient nation and the game of golf will come back to where it was here.”
What needs to change in the game? Norman, who has opened 77 course designs and has 37 projects in various stages of development, pointed to distance. “TPC San Antonio came to us and asked for a 7,800-yard course,” Norman said. “I wouldn't do it. We ultimately settled to build it at 7,500 yards. I really think the pros should have limited technology so they can’t hit the ball this far, because these monster courses aren't sustainable. Give the technology to the other 26 million golfers in America.”