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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Moe Norman

I received an e-mail from a new outfit purporting to teach Moe Norman's swing.  Moe was a ballstriking legend.  He was quite possibly an autistic savant, although never officially diagnosed as such.  He hit the ball dead-straight and shot his last 59 at 63 years of age.

The great thing about Moe was that he appeared to break just about every rule in the book when it came to the golf swing.  He used a ten-fingered grip, rather than the preferred Vardon or interlocking grips.  He set up with legs wide apart and ramrod stiff.  He had a short, quick action.  Essentially, if you saw him on the tee, particularly the way he dressed and stood to the ball, you'd think he was a weekend duffer.  But when he struck the ball it made a different sound.  Major champions would stop and watch him hit balls.

The thing is, Moe never recommended anyone copy his swing.  It was his ability to hit ball after ball right on the button, and to keep his clubface square and moving straight down the target line longer than anyone that made him arguably the greatest ballstriker we've ever seen.  His Canadian golfing feats are legendary.  Sadly, the PGA tour wasn't ready for Moe.  He dressed funny.  He talked funny.  He played fast and had little time for the staid slowpokes he met on the big tour.

I love the story about Moe actually laying on the ground pretending to nap while his partners went about their business.  One of the last straws was him putting out between a playing partner's legs as he was picking his ball out of the hole.  They essentially ran him off the tour.  They couldn't understand him.  And Moe just couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.  To him the game was simple.  He reduced hitting a golf ball to an act as simple as hammering a nail.   

A friend of mine got the chance to play with Moe in Belleville, Ontario--I think it was the Corby's tournament.  It was a shotgun start.  They were starting on a par three, had teed off, and Moe was nowhere to be seen.  Suddenly he appeared on the horizon, being driven to the tee at a high rate of knots by the club pro.  Moe jumped out of the cart and demanded, in his squeaky voice, to know the yardage.  After being told he stepped up the tee, threw a ball on the turf, took one look at the pin and hit the ball.  He holed it.  Moe happily chirped that this was something like his 34th hole in one.

It would be great to hit the ball like Moe.  In fact, it would be awesome to hit it like Moe.  The problem is, as I see it, even if you could duplicate his swing action, there is no guarantee you'd hit it anywhere near as well as Moe did.  Moe's action was uniquely developed for Moe.  On the other hand, we can dream.  I reckon I'll read about what this latest outfit has to say.  After all, whether you have ever heard of him or not, Moe was the man.