For anyone following the “what has Greg Norman done for Australian
golf” debate served up by fellow pro Mark Hensby earlier this week,
the question of whether Hensby is right or wrong doesn’t really matter.

Much more intriguing to golf fans and the Australian public is that one
of our most venerated sporting legends has been so publicly skewered by one
of his own, who, rather than being painted as some upstart “Mark who” as
Norman would have it, is the 30th ranked golfer in the world coming
into this week’s Australian Open.

Norman is right to take umbrage at any suggestion that he hasn’t done a
lot for Australian golf, indeed made a massive contribution. But
as even Norman’s stoutest defenders would admit – he’s also made it his
business to make vast sums of money from the local game over the years
whether via appearance money, corporate sponsorship, or any number of
commercially exploitable local business opportunities. Norman has been fantastic for Australian golf and
Australia has also been fantastic to him.

In yesterday’s Herald Sun, golf writer Trevor Grant reasoned that Hensby’s attack was hardly fair on Norman’s legacy. Grant
revealingly provided a terrific insight into the ambivalence of
feelings that Norman evokes in his fellow pros – not to mention people,
like Grant, who have endured 30 years of the Shark’s notoriously fickle
and imperious personality.

“In my experience, for every player who publicly praises Norman, there
are three or four sitting in the locker-room having a quiet crack at
him,” Grant wrote. “It’s true he can be a difficult person. I have known him for 30
years and have seen him at his best and his worst. While he can
be good-hearted and good fun, he can also be confrontational,
dismissive and rude. He often has the air of an emperor, ready to
grant favours to those who fall at his feet and utter only wonderful
words about him. And ready
to savage those who dare to point out that on some issues he has no

That’s Norman in a nutshell – a mass of contradictions, but also
able to take care of himself in any public or private slanging match
with Hensby. But there’s no getting around the fact that Hensby has done more to promote the Australian Open this week and
get it into the news than Norman’s concurrent media sideshow plugging yet another course development, while turning
back on a tournament he used to care so much about – when he was being paid to
play it.