|Greg Norman has built his fortune off the golf course
through substantial real-estate developments and by lending
his name to a successful wine brand Greg Norman Estates, sold
by Foster's Group.
Fellow Australian golf champion Stuart Appleby is taking a
different route, investing $US500,000 ($920,000) in an
Australian company called Powerchip.
Powerchip produces small
computer chips that enhance the automotive performance of
prestige cars, including the BMW M5 that Mr Appleby parks at
his home in Orlando, Florida.
The golfer's car was fitted with a chip early last year.
Mr Appleby, who was in Melbourne yesterday, has also become
a director of Powerchip
Group as it mounts an expansion push in the United States.
He came across the company in an Australian car magazine
after "looking for more" out of his BMW and finding no
product in the US that delivered the results he wanted.
Mr Appleby said Powerchip
was his first substantial business investment, although he is
a consultant to the Torquay Sands golf course development in
Victoria, scheduled to open in November next year.
He said he undertook extensive due diligence on Powerchip, which is owned by
Melbourne automotive software specialist Wayne Besanko.
"I flipped the egg a hundred times to make sure it was
viable," he said.
The performance chips, which range in price from $500 to
$10,000, are encrypted to prevent piracy and work by modifying
computer programs that govern the car engine.
Mr Appleby's $US500,000 investment gives him a substantial
minority stake in Powerchip
Group, which will have its US headquarters in Santa Monica,
He has already talked to fellow golf professional and close
neighbour Tiger Woods about the merits of the chip for the two
late-model Porsches that sit in the American golfer's garage
"I've told Tiger there's something in the wind for him,"
Mr Appleby said.