Did you have a sports hero growing up? Somebody that inspired you to become great? When I was younger, I had a few. I wanted to run with the football like Tony Dorsett, and I wanted to shoot the basketball like Larry Bird. But when it came to golf, I wanted to hit the golf ball like Greg Norman.
Greg Norman was the golfer I dreamed of becoming when I was younger. His swing looked stronger than every other player, and the golf ball just sounded different when he would strike it. He had flash, and I liked that.
What always struck me the most about Greg Norman was his ability to put backspin on his golf ball. As a kid, I was more excited to see how far back his golf ball would spin, rather than how close his golf ball would stop by the hole. His brand of golf ball was a Spalding Tour Edition. I absolutely had to have that ball for myself. My parents were kind enough to purchase some for me, and I quickly began my mission to spin the golf ball like Greg Norman. I couldn’t get to the golf course fast enough.
The golf course I grew up on had firm fairways. I had learned that a golf ball would spin more when it was struck off of a firm surface, so I was set up to become Greg Norman. My afternoons were spent cleaning the grooves on my wedge and hitting balls from the firmest spots I could find. It was a blast! If I was lucky, I’d even get behind the rotation of sprinklers watering the greens and making them more receptive to a spinning golf ball.
I eventually learned to put backspin on my Tour Edition in what I believed to be a similar fashion as Greg Norman. When my ball would spin off of the green, I was elated. I wasn’t concerned with whether or not my ball was close to the hole.
Greg Norman would eventually switch to a golf ball that would not spin quite as much as his Tour Edition, and he had much better control on his iron shots. Fortunately for me, this switch came after he had already inspired me to hit the ball like he could.
There are many talented golfers on the PGA and LPGA Tours that can inspire us to play better golf these days. As a kid, watching Greg Norman spin his golf ball made the game a lot more fun for me. He made me want to get better, and that made the game a heck of a lot more fun. I hope that junior golfers today can find a hero to emulate. The inspiration created by their sports hero will help them to stay motivated, and that will be the greatest asset they have in their pursuit to becoming great.