Golf and Moe Norman


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Apr 12, 2012
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If you are a golfer you need to know a little bit about Moe Norman and what he means (meant, actually, he is deceased) to the Wonderful World of Golf.

Moe Norman was a Canadian, born in Kitchener, Ontario, in very humble circumstances in the 1920's. He discovered golf at an early age and taught himself how to hit the ball long and straight. He got no support from his family, or in fact from the golf community until he was middle-aged, although he is generally conceded to be the greatest golfer ever to be born in Canada, and he is considered by many pro's (including Tiger Woods) to be possibly the "Greatest Ball Striker Ever." He would hit hundreds of consecutive perfect shots in exhibitions, hitting targets as far away as 250 yards.

He won more Canadian golf titles - amateur and professional - than anyone else, by a wide margin. He alone shot three rounds of 59 in competition, and would go whole tournaments without ever hitting a bogey. At one time he claimed to have gone seven years without missing a fairway, and would occasionally - just for fun - play par 4's "backward," hitting a wedge off the tee and a driver from the fairway onto the green.

Norman was an odd duck and an introvert. Never married, he didn't care about how he looked, and occasionally spoke with so much candor that he was considered rude or ignorant - or just wierd. On the few occasions when he tried playing professionally in the U.S. (he qualified twice for the Masters), he was mocked and ridiculed by fans, media, and other players and eventually just went back to Canada. (He did Winter in Florida sometimes and he later played some tournaments on the Senior Tour).

You may ask, If he was so good, why isn't he celebrated as the "Tiger Woods" of Canada or some such thing?

Because he had a "horrible" golf swing. His swing was the antithesis of everything that Pro golfers teach young players and amateurs. Everything from his stance to his address to his grip to his follow-through and even his mental approach to the game were "wrong," and any young golfer walking into a lesson today and demonstrating a swing like Norman's to a teaching pro would be told to go home and throw away his golf clubs forever.

But that's why we need to remember Moe Norman. Because there is no such thing as a "perfect" golf swing, and it is possible to become a good golfer with a swing that has peculiarities that are unique to you. Teaching professionals are taught one "perfect" swing, and most of them spend all of their time and all of your money trying to convince you that you have to develop a "perfect" swing, and anything different you do is "wrong." But it isn't true. Sometimes you just have to walk away and work on your own to optimize your results with a swing that is natural for you.

There are a LOT of hucksters on the Internet trying to teach golfers how to swing like Moe Norman, claiming that his technique is much easier to learn than a conventional golf swing. Generically, these techniques are referred to as a "single-plane swing." I would NOT recommend trying this, because it is all wrong. It worked for Moe Norman, but might not work for very many other people, and the downside is that if you run into problems there is nowhere to turn for advice because you are intentionally doing everything differently from every other golfer. But if you are really desperate and frustrated and can't break 100...give it a shot.

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