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Greg Norman

This club is famous for… Greg Norman’s first tour win

He won 91 professional tournaments around the world, including two Claret Jugs. But where did Greg Norman break his duck 40 years ago this week?

 

Where do you think it was that the Great White Shark Greg Norman first really bared his teeth?

The Australian claimed 91 professional titles, spent 331 weeks at the top of the game’s rankings and claimed two Claret Jugs on his way into the World Golf’s Hall of Fame.

But it was 40 years ago this week, in Perthshire, where he first exploded onto the scene.

The 22-year-old won the Martini International at a chilly Blairgowrie on June 11, 1977 – departing with the £3,000 winner’s cheque in his debut season on the European Tour.

A closing course record 66, for an 11 under 277, was enough to see him three clear of the late Simon Hobday and a field that also included three future Ryder Cup captains – Mark James, Sam Torrance and his final round partner Bernard Gallacher.

Greg Norman

Also in the field that day at Rosemount was Charles Dernie, now Blairgowrie’s head professional.

“My recollection of the tournament was that it was one of the best courses I had ever played on, despite not making the cut,” he said. “If you missed the fairway it was tough because the heather was much worse back then.

“The opening hole was regarded as very tough, a long par four championship test.

“The configuration of the course was slightly different back then, with the first and 18th on Lansdowne then part of Rosemount.

“We all knew there was this fantastic player across from Australia. He hit the ball sky high. So we all decided that would never work in Scotland! He certainly proved us wrong, he could hit the ball for miles.

Greg Norman

“He came here with a reputation as an exciting, attacking golfer and, of course, even then had the persona, the looks, the physique and the big hat.

“Greg Norman stood out and winning his first tournament in Europe here at Blairgowrie had to be special for him.

“I would say anyone who saw him play knew he was special. Greg was the type of player other pros would watch practice, although back then the driving range restricted you to a 7-iron. His caddy would be catching his shots while mine was sprinting here and there for my golf balls!”

Four-time Blairgowrie club champion Ian Davie, a member since 1958, has a cherished keepsake of Norman’s landmark victory.

Greg Norman

He got his hands on the Martini programme and Norman’s final round card, signed by Gallacher. It has been framed, sandwiched by Ian’s own record scorecards for the Rosemount and Lansdowne courses.

“I was off scratch back then and played as a marker before watching Greg and Bernard in action,” he said.

“I remember his winning performance very well. I had never heard of Greg before he arrived, to be quite frank.  But he could hit the ball so far he quickly made his mark and I kept an eye on his progress thereafter.

“I have to say I am proud to share the course record for the old Rosemount course with someone of Greg’s stature. It can never be beaten.”

Click here for the full ‘This Club Is Famous For’ Archive

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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