Norman: 'Follow the growth corridor'

April 23, 2009

Among professional golfers, Greg Norman has always been one of the most successful in business. So it was interesting to hear his thoughts today on golf course developments and real estate, and how and why they are good investments.

The scene was a press conference at the Savannah Harbor Resort in Savannah, Ga., site of this week's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, an event on the Champions Tour. The area is familiar to Norman. Hilton Head Island, S.C., home of Harbour Town GL and the PGA Tour's Verizon Heritage, where Norman is a past champion, is about 30 minutes north. The Shark has also designed the courses at a couple of real estate developments in the area: Savannah Quarters in Savannah, and Oldfield, in Beaufort, S.C.

A reporter asked Norman about his attraction to the region. Here was his answer:

"One of my favorite tournaments ever on the PGA Tour was Harbour Town. I love the golf course. I love the feel of the environment there. It was always great to come right out of Augusta and go there because it was like going from an intense pressure cooker to a little bit more laid-back atmosphere, but a very intense golf course to play. So you took that mentality all the way on to the golf course.

"And it was very relaxing. You walk to the first tee. You walk to the driving range. You walk back into your apartment, whatever way you want to do it.

"The opportunities to build golf courses around here have been tremendous. Savannah Quarters, I'm an owner in the development out there. Oldfield, we built a golf course out there. So I've had the opportunity to stick my stake in the ground in a lot of ways, not only from a playability standpoint, but also from a financial standpoint.

"I always love the Savannah growth corridor. Any time you see where a Lowe's or Wal-Mart or Home Depot and Sam's Club [is being built], that means they know where the growth corridor is. And when you get in the development business, you kind of follow where it's going to be five, seven years down the line. Sure, you're going to have hiccups in the real estate market, but if you stay the course, you know you're going to come out pretty good at the other end."

So there you go. The Shark says the market is going to turn. Eventually.