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Moe Norman-Golf’s Mystery Man

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

Moe Norman’s name came up when we were gathered around the 19th after a hard day’s work at Jack’s Point.

Mike G says to Michael P, “You really should learn about a guy called, Moe Norman.”
Michael P wasn’t interested and I wasn’t surprised but what did surprise me is that among the 16 well-heeled golfers sitting around the bar, only two guys, Mike G and myself knew much about Moe.


So this post is for Michael P and those people who have never heard of Moe Norman.
And because of the general lack of knowledge about Moe, I’ve called him Golf’s Mystery Man.

The conversation at the 19th came to mind when reading the Golf Monthly’s, Fergus Bisset who headlined his article; “Moe Norman: One of golf's greatest”

Here’s some snippets from Fergus’ article and hopefully inspire you to learn more about Moe. Maybe even try his unique swing method.

Moe’s methodology
“Norman's golf technique was unique too. Setting the club way out in front of him and a foot behind the ball, he swung with his feet flat on the ground. But the ball went straight, every time. He was obsessive with practice and had hit approximately 5 million balls by the end of his career.”

Moe’s awesome accuracy
“Norman was so unerringly straight that, during his entire career, he went out-of-bounds only once. In a 2004 interview, Vijay Singh was asked who was the best golfer he'd ever seen. Without hesitation, Singh answered: "Moe Norman." Tiger Woods said, "Only two players have ever truly owned their swings: Moe Norman and Ben Hogan."

Moe’s tournament record
“Norman's phenomenal skill as a ball-striker often overshadows his excellent playing record. He won 54 tournaments and set 33 course records. He shot four 59s and made 17 holes-in-one. He played briefly on the PGA Tour in 1959.”

Moe’s eccentricity
“Leading the 1963 Saskatchewan Open by three strokes, Murray ‘Moe' Norman found himself with a birdie chance on the final green. He had the tournament sewn up but, to see if he could handle the pressure, he deliberately putted into a greenside bunker before getting up-and-down for a bogey to win by two.”

If  there’s a simple answer to why Moe’s an unknown great to most golfers. It has to be that at the height of his prowess he became persona non grata on the USPGA Tour. Moe just didn’t fit in with Tour’s idea of how a professional should behave and dress.

As to Moe’s eccentricity, it’s believed by some people that he was autistic, although never diagnosed as such. For example, Moe was able to recall the exact hole yardages at 375 of the 434 courses he had played.

Moe died, September 2004, 400 but his memory lives on among the many people who believe he is in the top three of the greatest-ever ball strikers. One of golf’s most fascinating characters, and on occasion his methodology attempted by those desperate enough to try anything to hit the wee white ba’ a bit better.

Here’s a link to a You Tube video featuring Moe Norman

Thought for the day from Moe.

On Practicing: "Practice something that makes you better." "Don't do something that ingrains habits that make you worse. But that's what 99 percent of the people do."



This post was originally published on the 21st of December 2009. It is being republished as part of a 'best of' series, running over the next two weeks.

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