DAPITAN CITY, Philippines – Clad in comfy brown shirt and beige shorts and sporting a white cap and shades, Australian legend Greg Norman patiently went over the site of the signature golf course he’s designing and building at Dakak Park and Beach Resort here.
“The Great White Shark”, was as usual, thorough, meticulously looking at every feature of the layout before giving his valuable inputs.
Along the way, he took in the picturesque view, preferring to mostly walk during the inspection that lasted some three hours. At the end of it all, he gave in to adrenaline rush and tried Dakak’s famous zipline. Not once, but twice.
“This is a beautiful spot, no question. When you have this type of topo, vegetation, weather, and people we’re dealing with, it’s hard not to like this place. That’s the greatest thing about it,” Hall of Famer Norman said.
His company, the Greg Norman Golf Course Design, has been entrusted with the job of constructing the $18 million Dakak Golf and Country Club, a horse shoe-shaped golf course carved out at the back of the famous resort.
As both designer and builder, Norman is giving the project his personal touch. He’s been here in April 2012 for the formal launch and should be excited to come over again in the future.
“In my business, I have to travel to all four corners of the world. It’s not just piece of property, it’s also the culture and the people. I’ve been coming to the Philippines since the early 80s and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. The culture, and the individuals, too, make up the excitement of being involved in the project,” he said.
The par-72, 7,000-yard Greg Norman signature course will feature plenty of elevation changes and seaside holes. This early, some even go to the extent of putting it up there along with the best golf courses.
“I don’t know how the ratings will go. I’m not the person who will get into the ranking system. I know what we do, from myself to everyone in my design company – we want to build the best golf course possible. Everything else takes care of itself. We do that, we do the right job from beginning to completion, we’ll be happy,” he said.
“I never put a signature hole on a golf course, I think every hole should stand out on its own. I really don’t feel much about ranking... It will be a great golf course certainly,” he added.
Dakak Golf and Country Club president Cesar Jalosjos and Dakak boss Romeo Jalosjos said the project is in a way, meant to help enhance the image of Mindanao, particularly of Dapitan and Zamboanga Peninsula, as a “safe tourist destination contrary to common perception.”
“Dapitan is actually the most peaceful city not only in Mindanao but in the entire country,” they said.
Norman said in 14 to 15 months, nine holes at Dakak should be “ready to go.”
“The end result will be magnificent, within the budget and exactly what the owners want,” he said.
He was asked if Dakak, once completed, will serve as venue for the “Shark Shootout.”
“I’ll leave that to the powers that be. I don’t make the decision on whether there should be a Tour (event) here or not,” he said.
The city government also took advantage of the occasion to officially recognize Norman as an adopted son of Dapitan.
A two-time winner of the British Open and 89 other tournaments, Norman has made good on business post-golf, building the Great White Shark Enterprises which is involved in golf course design, apparel, development and production of companies, merchandising and licensing and wineries, among others.
He had actually started a wine import business in the country through his Cebu-based mother-in-law, whom he, son Greg Jr. and his entourage visited before flying to Dipolog and motoring to Dapitan.
“I know I was never gonna be a great golfer forever,” said the former world No. 1, drawing laughter.
“There’s gotta be a point where I didn’t want to practice and play and get mentally burned out...I’d like to do something not playing golf. I never wanted to be a ceremonial golfer – going out there to shoot 73, 75 and miss the cut. That’s not my DNA so when I realized I didn’t want to hang around just to hang around, I wanted to build businesses.”