Ripped at 64, golfing-icon-turned-magnate Greg Norman is ready to shed light on his remarkable life. In this exclusive interview with Men’s Health, the Shark reveals the secrets behind his stellar midlife fitness and opens up about his personal and professional challenges. What becomes clear is that beneath the glamorous exterior is a longing not normally associated with a man who appears to have everything.
The word is you still train five days a week and your workouts, which combine cardio and weights, can last for up to two hours. What drives you to maintain such a demanding regimen?
I think it’s just my DNA. My whole life I’ve been a very disciplined guy. I was a fit kid growing up in Townsville, running on the beach, skid-boarding every afternoon I possibly could, riding a horse bareback along Pallarenda. You know, snorkelling, SCUBA diving, Aussie Rules, rugby. And now, because of my work in golf-course design, I do a lot of walking on virgin sites. I’ve just been in Saudi Arabia and we were walking up and down hills in 118-degree [48°C] heat. So that all bodes well at my age. Apart from that, I just enjoy doing it, quite honestly.
Have you ever been out of shape?
There was a time I probably drank one or two too many beers of a night-time than I should have. I’ve always been pretty good with my eating habits. In ’91, I decided to get off pretty much everything white. Even now if I have sushi I’ll eat just the fish and not the rice. I’m way more meticulous now than when I was playing.
How do you feel physically? Are you convinced your habits make a difference?
Oh, for sure. I would have no problems walking 36 holes around a hilly golf course in Colorado. I have no doubt my cardio is very good. I’ll give you an example. I was just in Tibet, in the Himalayas, and I’m going to the Himalayas again in less than a year from now, and I’m going to go up to over 20,000ft [6096m]. Even on my ranch in Colorado, at half that altitude, if I need to do something, some heavy lifting or maintenance, I don’t have to say to myself, “Oh, can you do this?” Or, “Oh, you’re going to wake up tomorrow feeling like crap”. I don’t have those thoughts.
You feel like a 24-year-old?
All I can tell you is I don’t take any medication, any painkillers anymore like I used to when I was playing golf. I’m free of everything. My body has been cleansed.
Do you make the choices you do with longevity in mind?
I’ve been very open about the fact that I want to be the longest-living Norman. And the Normans have got some really good genes. On my mother’s side, it’s 90s and 100s. My dad [Mervyn] is 93 this year. And I’d like to hit 108, 110.
You’re an example to our readers.
Well, look, I hope I’m an example, but I don’t try to be. But if my health becomes something for others to try and emulate and feel better in themselves . . . there’s no reason you can’t do it. Sometimes, when I travel the world and I meet people younger than me and they look like they’re older than me, geez, I feel pretty good, you know? And you take these people out on site, whether they’re developers or owners, and you start walking the site for three, four, five hours . . . they last about 20 minutes and then they’re gone. I’m not trying to be a show-off or anything, but if they sit back and say, “Boy, I want to change and be like Greg”, then great.
What did you feel when Tiger Woods won the US Masters this year? I ask because there doesn’t seem to be any bond between the two of you.
Yeah, look, I’m happy to clear that up for you. Like, when you ask me a question, I’m going to give you an honest answer. I’m not going to bullshit to you. I’m also going to draw on my experience of the past in terms of what Jack Nicklaus did for me, what Arnold Palmer did for me . . . where there was that respect handed off from the generation before you. It’s a code of conduct in a lot of ways. Very few people know this: when Tiger won the Masters this year, I wrote him a handwritten note and drove down my road, maybe a quarter of a mile, and hand-delivered it to his guard at his gate. I said, “Hey, this is Greg Norman here. I’ve got a note for Tiger – can you please hand-deliver it to him?” Well, I never heard a word back from the guy. When I won my first major championship, Jack Nicklaus was the first person to walk down out of the TV tower and congratulate me. I don’t know – maybe Tiger just dislikes me. I have no idea. I’ve never had a conversation with him about it. I’ve always been respectful about what his father did for him. I played nine holes with him at his father’s and IMG’s request when Tiger was 14 or 15 and I was the No. 1 player in the world, to give an assessment of this kid. So, I have always been willing.
To read the full article, pick up a copy of the December issue, on sale now.