From his home base in Florida, Greg Norman has been working on a big-money venture, something intended to shake up the golf landscape.
Nope, not LIV Golf — a different startup project.
This is a golf course, a high-end private club at the heart of a real estate development called the Residences at Shell Bay, just north of Miami. It is set to open for play in early 2023.
“The Miami area has been very land-constrained for many years,” Norman said. “So, the opportunity to acquire 130 acres near the ocean to build a world-class course is tremendous.”
Billed as the first new golf development in the area in 25 years, Shell Bay sits on land once occupied by the Diplomat, a now-defunct golf resort and spa. But none of that old layout remains. Norman and his team scrapped every inch of it, creating a new routing on freshly sand-capped ground and adding elevation changes to formerly flat terrain. The surrounding property has been reimagined, too.
The course will anchor a gated residential community that will also be home to a boutique resort managed by Auberge Resort Collections. In addition to a 7,250-yard 18-hole course, Shell Bay will have a 12-acre practice facility with a 9-hole par-3 course, a racquet center with four tennis courts, pickle ball courts and a 48-slip private yacht club, among other luxe amenities.
Of the course design, Norman said he drew inspiration from the fast-running, subtly contoured and cleverly defended courses of the Australian Sandbelt.
“We’ve worked hard to create a balance of both conservative and risk/reward strategies,” he said. “But without a doubt, the most striking design feature at Shell Bay is the bunkering. The fairways and green complexes are visually framed and strategically protected as well as I have ever seen.”
Norman has been involved in course design for more than 30 years, one of myriad business interests, ranging from real estate and apparel to wine and Wagyu beef, that have burnished his reputation as a superstar athlete-turned-entrepreneur. But as even casual golf fans know by now, Norman’s highest-profile business role has come through the position he assumed in 2021 as CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, the controversial league funded by Saudi Arabia’s Private Investment Fund.
The obligations of that job have made Norman’s past year especially hectic. But Norman, who is 67, said he expected to be pulled in multiple directions, and that he and his team had adjusted in advance to ensure that his other businesses could keep operating at full capacity as he turned his attention to LIV.
“I spent more time on an airplane and in board rooms than I have in years,” Norman said of the past year-plus. But, he added of his other business ventures, “With LIV’s inaugural season now in the books, I can honestly say we didn’t miss a beat.”
His soon-to-open course at Shell Bay caps what Norman said has been a busy year for his course-design business, with several redesign projects in this country, including a resurrected new course in Idaho, near Jackson Hole. His work at Shell Bay also comes at a time when a growing chorus of voices, led by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, have called for Norman to step down from LIV, arguing that his presence is too polarizing for the PGA Tour and LIV to make progress in any kind of peace negotiations.
Norman said he has no plans to budge.
“I am very pleased with how my businesses are running and there’s no reason for me to change anything where that’s concerned,” he said.
Shell Bay is slated to open in January, with residences scheduled for completion in 2025.
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