by Todd Graves
Reprint: August/September GDC Article
All levels of players relentlessly look for secrets and tips to experience the feeling of a perfect strike, straight and true to the target. To most, the golf swing is a conundrum. There have been more books dedicated to uncovering a method to hitting a golf ball than any other instruction in sports. But what if I told you that the greatest way to strike a golf ball wasn’t learned in a book – it was dug from an empty field of Rockway golf club in Kitchener Ontario Canada and clinched in the bloody hands of a mysterious Canadian – sixty-four years ago.
Within 5 years, between the ages of 14 and 19, Moe Norman, a reclusive Canadian golfer had found something that even Ben Hogan, the forefather of the classic golf swing, couldn’t believe.
Hogan believed any ball hit dead straight was an accident and was invited to see Moe Norman practice. After each of the first six balls, he watched Moe hit Hogan said, “Accident.” After watching Moe hit several more Hogan said, “Just keep hitting those accidents, kid.
But the truth is that Moe didn’t have a secret, he was the secret. Moe found the perfect way to use the body to hit a golf ball – he had found the most accurate golf swing in the history of the game. Somehow he naturally discovered the science of the golf swing and amazingly, he didn’t read books or watch other players – he learned his swing with intuition.
I met Moe in 1994, years after his countless tournament wins and course records. Moe was retired and mentored me in the understanding of hitting the golf ball. When I first asked about his swing, Moe’s comment to me was simply, “I don’t know how to swing badly. My body doesn’t know how it’s so simple”.
Since meeting Moe, I made it my mission to bridge the gap between Moe and anyone wanting to learn what he dug out of the dirt over 60 years ago. In this article, I am going to show you exactly what he figured out and when I do, it wouldn’t surprise me if you say “why doesn’t everyone swing like Moe”.
The One Mistake
Moe’s understanding of the golf swing was not technical or scientific. He knew that the most critical moment during the golf swing in a split second that the club strikes the ball – impact. More importantly, he figured, through practice and intuition, that “how” you get to impact could simplify the entire swing event.
What Moe intuitively showed me was that unlike conventional or traditional golfers, achieving impact could be simplified by how you set your position at the beginning – address. In other words, traditional golfers make a critical and complicated error at the very beginning of their golf swing. I now call this the “one mistake.” This fatal error caused by the most common fundamental taught traditional golf schools – the athletic position of hanging the arms straight down – or level below the shoulders.
This “arms low” position causes a spatial problem where the conventional golfer is too close to the golf ball. This spatial problem is evident by looking at this swing sequence where you can see the arms hanging down at address only to be lifted up at impact.
From this perspective, you can see that the club starts on a little plane at address and lifts to a higher plane at impact. This low to high adjustment is extremely complicated and requires some very complex coordination and skill to be learned and repeated.
What Moe figured out was that it didn’t make sense to start the club in a different position than impact. Moe considered his swing a “pendulum” which meant that he started the club, in the beginning, on the same plane as impact.
You can see in these photos of Moe that he starts at the address on the same plane as impact – eliminating the spatial problem and the need to lift the body. Moe uncomplicated the golf swing by eliminating the “one mistake”.
It Makes Perfect Sense
What makes Moe’s discovery even more phenomenal is understanding the Natural movements of the body. If you hand a stick to a non-golfer and ask him to hit an object that is lying on the ground, he will invariably point the stick directly at the object. This is what Moe intuitively discovered – that if you point the golf club directly at the golf ball, it makes striking it so much easier. It’s not a mystery that Moe became the greatest ball-striker ever to play golf. His golf swing is “common sense”.
Instead of seeing Moe’s golf swing as unconventional, the maybe question we should be asking is “Why doesn’t everyone swing like Moe”?