Whether you hit hole-in-ones or not, golf is a sport that always brings people of different abilities together — even at the professional level. Last month, the PGA kicked off the 2018 Web.com Tour with the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, where amateurs and professionals could compete for a title on the same exact course.
The competition was held at the luxury Sandals Resort on an 18-hole championship course designed by Greg Norman. There was a lot that went into the legend’s award-winning course, and FN got to the bottom of how he was able to pull it off. Read ahead for our interview on the hall of famer’s design process along with his valuable tips for beginners on how to be a better golfer.
FN: Why did you decide to create a course at Sandals and what was the inspiration behind it?
Greg Norman: “We made our first site visit in 1997 when it was nothing but coral rock and native brush. The untapped beauty is what provided the inspiration. We knew we could make something magical that would rival any course in the Caribbean. We were very fortunate that the developers allowed us to build the golf holes along the water, as most would rather put homes up for real estate value. Once we knew we had some of the best oceanfront property in the world, we set out to make all 18 signature holes.”
FN: How were you able to make it challenging for pros, but playable for amateurs?
GN: “The easiest thing in the world is to build a hard golf course, but it’s harder to create a course that will stump everyone. My strategy varies per site. At Sandals Emerald Bay, in particular, we had to take into consideration the prevailing winds and restrictions on fairway width on the back nine due to the narrow corridors. We also put multiple tee locations in place to shorten the course and provide for easier shot angles off the tee.”
FN: Do you have any advice for newbies trying out the sport?
GN: “Stay within your limitations. I think amateurs try to get 100 percent out of every shot. However, not even the best players in the world can do that. We probably only play within 75 to 80 percent of our capabilities. Often times, we’re playing for our misses and we always say ‘now if I’m going to mishit this shot…” Amateurs don’t think like that, but that’s how you should play. You have to map things out.”
FN: If you could recommend golf shoes for beginners, what would they be and why?
GN: “Puma Golf makes an awesome range of golf shoes for men, women, and youth that are comfortable and stylish. The brand has a good mix of traditional golf shoes and spikeless ones that almost look like streetwear.”
FN: How about for your clothing brand, what new styles can fans expect from it?
GN: “The hybrid mix between golf wear and sportswear is really something we are moving towards in our Modern Heritage collections. The goal is to balance golf polos with things like button down shirts and special outerwear featuring luxe v-neck sweaters you can wear everywhere. We’re also launching our Forward Series in spring 2018. The collection wears like everyday favorites, but are still designed for play. The polos feel like your favorite, washed soft T-shirt mixed with cutting edge-technology perfect for the course.”
FN: Outside of golf, what else do you like most about the resort?
GN: “The best part about a Sandals vacation is that’s it’s all-inclusive. You can play golf, jump in the catamaran, go scuba diving, dine at a different restaurant every night, or just hang out with the most beautiful white sandy beach overlooking turquoise waters and do absolutely nothing. There’s also the swimming with the pigs excursion you can’t miss.”