Golf has been always the best place to build business relationships. The latest research shows that a great percent of business is made on golf courses. Professional golf players seem to enjoy their business perspectives right after they hit their retirement age. While most of us wait for retirement to play golf, golf pros swing a club to retire into a large business.
Gary Player:The Black Knight
Gary Player was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1935 in the poor family of gold miner and housekeeper. He lost his mother when he was eight. Gary played his first game at the age of fourteen, at 23 won British Open, and at 29 became the only non-American to win all four majors after he won the 1965 U.S. Open. To say, Gary Player has a productive life is to say nothing.
Ranking third in total professional wins, Gary Player has nine major championships of the PGA tour and three Senior British Open Championships on the European Senior Tour. He and his wife, Vivienne Verwey, has six children and 21 grandchildren. But his success in golf didn't forbid him to continue expansion in life. Gary Player is a great example of how a person of a substantial character can build a thriving business off it.
Nicknamed "The Black Knight," Mr. Fitness, International Ambassador of Golf, Player was awarded the Bob Jones Award in 1966, which stands for the highest honor by U.S. Golf Association. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
As Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player started by designing golf courses. It led him to his brand of merchandising, apparel and wine, events, publishing, real estate development. He founded the Player Foundation to focus on education for underprivileged all around the world. Funds partly came from games he played with corporate VIPs.
Gary Player designs course not just in United States. He planned 325 courses in 35 countries by 2014. Today, when golf as an industry dries up in States, he has secured his contracts in Middle East, China and India. In his interview with Forbes, Player said:
"A lot of golf architects are saying when things are rosy and cozy, 'Well I'm not going to go to China or India and design courses, are you crazy? Now all of a sudden all there are no golf courses in America. Well, they're thinking otherwise. But it's a little bit late. It's a little bit late because 80 percent of the golf designers have gone out of business."
Gary's son, Marc Player said that the golf course design business generated $23 million in 2013. His real estate ventures and licensing deals make $5 million. And $8 million come from corporate sponsors, Rolex, Callaway and SAP. At 77 years old, Gary is making more money from his businesses than the $14 million in PGA and Senior Tour profits he gained over 60-year career.
Jack Nicklaus: The Golden Bear
Jack Nicklaus was born in North Palm Beach, Florida in the family of pharmacist Charlie Nicklaus and his wife, Helen. Jack started up with golf at the age of 10 and joined Scioto Country Club the same year. The initial idea was to heal a volleyball injury. At 13, he broke 70 records at the club for the first time and was qualified into U.S. Junior Amateur.
Jack fulfilled his father's wish and attended Ohio State college with a major in pharmacy. To survive and to support his family, Jack took college programs to study insurance, and was making his living in the insurance field until his professional golf career took off.
Jack Nicklaus won total 18 career major championships over the last 25 years. But as practice shows, golfers change their careers more often than any other type of athletes. Golf is a sport for rich and powerful. According to Jack, the competitive game was a part of his business life.
"Most people work all their lives so they can eventually stop and go play golf," he says. "I played golf my whole life and when I stopped, I went to work."
The architecture and design of golf courses are still a profitable business. Nicklaus Design, has designed more than 380 course in 36 different countries. Swinging toward the golf course design seems to be a natural course of action for every talented and ambitious golf player since times of George Crump and AW Tillinghast.
He also runs Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation, and the golf merchandise enterprise, which includes golf balls venture and beverages.
In is interview with Forbes, Jack said that his intention is not to become rich, but to provide well for his family.
"It was never important to me to be the wealthiest person," Nicklaus said to journalists.
Arnold Palmer built his fortune on licensing agreements and iced tea. He was always regarded as one of the greatest players in the history. Older than Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Arnold is 85 years old (he was born in September 1929). Legendary super-start, "The King" with his unmistakable charm and swing, seven-time major champion's fame is bigger than ever. And not just because his outstanding performance in golf.
In 1972, Palmer with his partner, Ed Seay, opened Palmer Course Design company. They have designed over 200 course around the globe. Since 1971, Palmer owned Latrobe Country Clubs, where his father was head professional and greenskeeper.
Arizona's "Arnold Palmer" beverage venture didn't start up as easy. But in 2012 with no special advertising, his company made almost $200 million in sales.
First time in the history, Palmer was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014. He was honored the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Greg Norman: The Great White Shark
Greg Norman has also built a successful business on course design and a shark logo. He was born in 1955 in Queensland, Australia. Called "The Great White Shark" Norman won over 85 international tournaments. His father was an electrical engineer, and his mother was the daughter of the carpenter and a fine golfer herself. Norman began playing golf at 15, and turned professions in 1976, at the age of twenty-one.
Norman was the first person in PGA Tour history to gain $10 million from the game. He has been a spokesman for several companies, including General Motors-Holden. As a fact, Commodore model was named after Norman.
As much as Norman was a tragic figure in American golf history, his losses were increasing his popularity in general. Martial art fan, he takes his philosophy from the putting greens to his business career. Norman's dream to become a major brand like Ralph Lauren turned to make $2 million stake in the golf clubs manufacturing Cobra. It jumps into $40 million five years later,
Norman, under the umbrella of Great White Shark enterprises, designs golf courses, sells clothing and wine, meat. He builds resorts and runs investment funds. It is a mixture of partnerships, own ventures and licensed products, distributed internationally.
Norman rests his biggest opportunities in China where he is named the official adviser to the Chinese Olympic golf team. They call his "Dabai Sha" (big shark). His wines become more popular among Chinese.
According to Forbes, Norman has more fun in big business play than he ever had in golf. He doesn't talk much about it. He takes pictures of his head inside 1,400-pound African crocodile and spends summer hunting and fishing at his ranch in Colorado.
It says a lot about Greg Norman. Golf was a great starting point in his life. It seems that he is more of a team player than a single shot.