TaylorMade Golf announced on Tuesday that 54-year-old Greg Norman, who will be competing this week at the Shell Houston Open and next week at the Masters, has signed an endorsement contract with the company. Norman will use the company's clubs and have a TaylorMade logo on his bag and hat as part of the deal, which had been reported previously.
Norman had been using MacGregor equipment.
The start of Norman's relationship with TaylorMade began last July at blustery Royal Birkdale, the two-time British Open champion told me on Monday. "It was extremely windy, blowing 35-50, so I needed to get my ball flight down," he said. "So on the driving range I grabbed a bucket of TaylorMade Reds, started hitting those and saw a dramatic difference in the ball flight."
Norman used the TaylorMade TP Red all week at the British Open and tied for third to earn himself an invitation to this year's Masters.
The Shark has no qualms about making a major equipment overhaul just days before the start of his first Masters since 2002. "I've always been a believer that a good player can pick up any golf club and in five hits know what it is going to do," he said. "A good player has his golf clubs built to his exact specifications. I know the gram weight of my head, I know the gram weight of my shaft, I know the gram weight of my grip. It doesn't take long to get used to something that is close to what you like."
A three-time runner-up at the Masters, Norman laughed when he described how easy it was to get fit for his new driver.
"You just take the head off and move the weight around; It's just as simple as that," he said. "What sometimes used to take days or weeks now can be done in about 90 minutes or two hours."
Norman used a TaylorMade R9 driver (8.5°) last week at the Cap Cana Championship on the Champions Tour. It's fitted with a Fujikura Motore F1 shaft that is set in the Neutral (N) position, and the head has an 8-gram weight cartridge in the toe, a 6-gram cartridge in the back and an 8-gram cartridge in the heel. This setup is designed to produce drives with lots of roll for increased distance on firm fairways.
"If conditions look like it's going to be wet at Augusta and there won't be any roll, I might reconfigure my weights," Norman said.
Norman said that he is hitting his new TaylorMade Tour Preferred irons about six yards farther than his prototype MacGregor blades—and the feel at impact is much softer as well.
"I couldn't believe it when I was on the launch monitor," he said. "I was hitting the same clubs I have been hitting for 30 years, and then I was six yards longer and it was like, 'Wow!' I mean, that six yards is a lot with an iron."
Surprisingly, Norman, who still has an ownership stake in the MacGregor Golf Company, says that he has not kept up with advancements in equipment technology as much as he should have. "Shame on me. I've been the old dinosaur really."
In fact, the Shark admitted that when he was fit for his new TaylorMade clubs, it was the first time in 12 years that he had been on a launch monitor.
Even with the added length of his new clubs, don't be surprised if Norman forgoes long-irons completely at Augusta National and carries as many as three TaylorMade Rescue clubs.
"I'm doing that specially for some of the par 3s," he said. "You look at the fourth hole for example. When I played there the other day it was 254 yards! Sure it's downhill and maybe a little downwind, but you need some elevation into that back right pin position, so a hybrid-3 or hybrid-4 might be the perfect club for that."
Norman says the longest iron in his bag at the Masters could be a 5-iron.
Here is a complete list of the clubs Norman used at Cap Cana last week:
Driver: TaylorMade R9 (8.5°) with Fujikura Motore F1 shaft
Fairway wood: Callaway Steelhead III Strong (15°)
Irons: TaylorMade Tour Preferred (2-PW)
Wedges: TaylorMade rac (52°), MacGregor V Foil (57°)
Putter: TaylorMade Rossa Monza Daytona
Ball: TaylorMade TP Red
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)