Golf Digest 2004-Moe Norman Hit it Best


In every issue, I like to think there’s at least one story that rises to the realm of “absolute compulsory reading if you have the heart and soul of a golfer.” This month, it’s Guy Yocom’s poignant My Shot on the greatest character in golf, Moe Norman. Yocom completed the interview and Joe McNally shot the portrait five days before Norman’s death. It’s no exaggeration to say, without apology to Ben Hogan, that Moe was the most consistent ball-striker in history.

Yocom met with Norman at a golf club near Toronto. I’ll let Guy take up the story from here: “Moe was at a table with a -4-year-old girl playing a game with three golf balls that I couldn’t understand after watching for 15 minutes. Moe would squeal and she’d squeal over a ‘score,’ and he did his best to ignore me. He was quite happy playing with the little girl until her father quietly confiscated the balls and guided me directly in front of Moe. The poor guy looked at me like I was holding a bone saw.

“Every question I asked was like bouncing a golf ball down a hallway, his replies ricocheting everywhere. A simple question on practice summoned a verbal omelet of anecdotes, proverbs and admonitions. Moe’s range of experience was broad because he was 75, and narrow because he was mildly autistic and had never devoted thought to much of anything except golf.

In the fact-checking process, parts of the story were corroborated with Moe’s longtime friend Nick Weslock, a great Canadian player in his own right who is “the sharpest 87-year-old I’ve ever seen,” says Yocom. “Nick made only one correction. In the story, you’ll hear Moe describe his method for deflecting pressure, which is to carry a wad of money and take it out of your pocket and count it before you play, the idea being that a round of competitive golf won’t matter so much. Moe showed me the cash he had in his pocket. It was a lot. The roll of bills bulged like a football. Keep in mind, the man never had a bank account until he was 65 years old.

“Nick insisted that we refer to the amount as $6,000, and that’s what you’ll see in the story. I loved that revision — why $6,000 exactly? In truth, Nick didn’t want the real amount revealed for fear of his friend getting hit over the head and robbed. But I saw the money with my own eyes. Forgive my indiscretion but days before Moe Norman died, he had $30,000 in his pocket.”

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