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Shark bites

The Shark is back in the water.

If you haven't already seen the television commercials, you will. Greg Norman is now hawking MacGregor equipment. If that comes as a bit of a great white shock since Norman is most identified for his long relationship with Cobra clubs -- his ownership role ultimately netted him somewhere around $40 million -- it shouldn't. It turns out he's been a MacGregor guy most of his life. Now as he looks to reinvigorate his game, he firmly believes this business deal might help him do that.

The real great white shock is this: Norman turns 50 on Feb. 10, will play all the Champions Tour's so-called majors and expects to make his senior debut at the PGA Senior Championship at Laurel Valley Golf Club in May. I got a chance to talk with Norman and MacGregor chief Barry Schneider last week at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando:

Q: Why hook up with MacGregor, other than the obvious fact that you probably need the money?

Norman: (Laughing.) "In the negotiations, I walked away with nothing, a big zero. (More laughing.) Why? It's very simple. There are a lot of synergies about where MacGregor has been and where it will be and where Cobra was and got to and then disappeared. Not only that, it's the brand. MacGregor is an iconic brand in golf and an iconic brand outside of golf. I really saw a lot of similarities. When we first started talking about this four years ago, the timing wasn't right. Barry had some shaking of the tree to do at the company, and he did a great job with it. We put ourselves on the Christmas card list and kept in touch. Six months ago, the timing was perfect for me. Just to get back in the research and development of the technology with golf equipment was big for me. I did that at Cobra and I missed that tremendously. I think I have a bit of a skill about it from my experience as an assistant pro learning to make golf clubs to being involved with Cobra and learning from the best and guys like Tom Crow.

"So when I sat down with Barry and saw the direction he wanted to go with his company, I said, why not? Look, this relationship with MacGregor is going to be my last one in the game. I've always used MacGregor equipment, close to 30 years. I've been with a couple of manufacturers and I did use their product but even in the Cobra days, I was using MacGregor forged clubs that were just stamped 'Cobra.' I've had an affinity for MacGregor since the day I saw Jack Nicklaus carrying a green MacGregor bag back in the '70s. Jack was synonymous with golf and MacGregor was synonymous with Jack. David Graham had a green MacGregor bag, too. I wish they still had green bags like those."

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