Around the World With … Greg Norman

13 travel tips from The Shark — from steak to wine to golfing

June 27, 2017 9:00 am

This is Around the World With, a new series in which we ask very well-traveled people about the destinations that they like best. Happy jetsetting. 

Twenty-time PGA winner and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Greg Norman knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

In addition to his expertise on the links, the 62-year-old athlete-turned-entrepreneur knows his way around a boardroom: as the chairman and CEO of the Greg Norman Company, he’s done everything from creating his own wine to designing his own golf course. But The Shark still finds plenty of  time to play hard, as well. His off-the-greens resumé includes everything from flying his own helicopter to traveling almost 400,000 miles each year to, amusingly, cage-diving with actual sharks.

So we thought he’d be an ideal candidate to ask about where he’d suggest going for a drink, a steak or 18 holes all around the globe.

From his mouth your ears, here’s the best place in the world to …

Drink a glass of wine: “I would say Napa Valley and probably the Barossa Valley in Australia. Napa is the quintessential place to grow grapes. It’s a community that’s really grown up around the wine industry. In Australia, obviously because of my heritage, there are plenty of options, but I like the Barossa Valley the most because it’s a little bit quieter. The other place I would put on there is Santiago in Chile. It’s a beautiful part of the world and they actually grow some pretty damn good organic grapes.”

Play a public golf course: “Oh that’s easy. That’s St. Andrews, Scotland. It’s the home of golf — where the sport basically started. To have the public be able to go experience a course in identical condition to what we have in a major championship is a pretty unique experience. It’s in the center of town so you can walk from the hotel with your clubs on your back right to the course.”

Go for a hike: “In the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The daytime temperatures barely got above 30 degrees and at night they’d drop down to 30 below. It was extremely taxing on your body. You had to be very careful about how you hiked. I spent about 10 days there, never showered, stayed in the same clothes. Anything you didn’t want to freeze had to be carried next to your body and go in your sleeping bag at night. It’s cold. It was a test of endurance, stamina and mental stability. I went with a guy who’s training to climb Everest, so I was in good hands.”

Get a steak: “In my own house, cooking one of my Wagyu steaks. You get a piece of meat that’s about a half-inch to three-quarters-of-an-inch thick, put it on a hot plate, not a grill. Put some coarse sea salt on the hot plate and let it heat up, then put the steak on top of the salt. Cook it for about 45 seconds to 50 seconds, per side. Let it soak up all its juices and fat and you’re done in about 2.5 minutes. That’d be medium rare. With Wagyu you have to have the center warm, not cold, but you should never overcook, because all the flavor comes from the fat. You can’t do Wagyu on a grill because the fat just flares up. There’s an art to doing it.”

Get fitted for a suit: “I’m a big fan of Ralph Lauren suits, so I go to get fitted for them in one of their stores in South Florida. There’s also a tailor from Austria I’ve used in the past who fits me better than anyone else. I’ve probably got about the same amount of suits from each.”

Take a group of friends for the first time: “That’s a push between Australia and White River National Forest in Colorado. In Australia, most people go to the tourist-trap areas they’ve seen on Google and don’t get anywhere off the beaten path. It’s the same size as the United States and most people don’t realize that. You need three weeks to really see what Australia’s all about. My ranch in White River is about 9,000 feet in elevation and when I take people horseback riding or backpacking for 3-4 days. They get blown away by the beauty of the place. It’s stunningly beautiful country and then you can drive five hours and see the beauty of Moab, in Utah. People take it for granted. They think they have to travel overseas to see the beauty of the Alps or Patagonia when they have it all here right in their backyard.”

Catch a sunset: “White River. Here’s the sunset. The clarity, the stars — breathtaking.”

Close a business deal: “Aqaba, Jordan. We’re in the process of installing the first 18-hole grass golf course in Jordan and it’s right on the Mediterranean Sea along the border fences with Israel. We had to put it on hold for a little while because of events in the region, but now it’s full steam ahead. It’s probably the most environmentally neutral golf course [he’s designed] — solar panels power almost everything, recycled sewage water for the grass, sending electricity back to the town — that I’ve ever worked on. It was a labor of love for the owner. A great golf course in the desert.”

Be treated like a local, rather than a tourist: ”Obviously my homeland is at the top of the list, but other than that I’d say Mexico. I’ve been going for over two decades and have a really good relationship with the people down there. Just great personalities, whether I’m recognized or not.”

Learn something new: “A Verizon Innovation Center. To walk in there and see what the young smart kids are working on for the future — whether it’s AR, VR, AI, whatever — it’s just mind-boggling. It’s incredible, I just get blown away every time I visit. We’re introducing something to the golf market at the end of the year that’s very exciting and will have been four years in the making once it’s released.”

Hear a great story from a bartender: “My favorite place to go and sit at the bar with my wife and have sushi is Echo Palm Beach in Florida. The bartender there is excellent and always knows what you want when you walk in. We interact with him and with the sushi chef and it’s great. It’s one of those places that isn’t covered in TVs to distract you from being at the bar talking to people. I avoid those places like the plague.”

Go after you come in first at a PGA event: “Home. When you win, that’s what you trained for. It’s not like time for celebrating, it’s just achieving a goal. I’d go home and decompress. If I took three weeks off after a victory and stayed home, I’d be working out, practicing and shooting on a green in the backyard. People wouldn’t see me and think I was off the grid, but I was practicing.”

Go after you come in second at a PGA event: “The driving range. To see what went wrong.”

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