My path to Moe might have been predetermined. I had experimented with his swing without knowing.
Before Matthew Lane showed me Moe’s swing, following another frustrating 800-ball practice day, I was looking at my swing on video in Hank’s teaching studio with Alberto Kaneda, a friend and former Oklahoma University teammate. Alberto made a suggestion. Instead of trying to match my low hands position at address and impact, he said: “Why don’t you start your hands higher at address? At impact, your hands are naturally moving higher, so why not start them there?” said Alberto, who went on to become the President of the PGA of Mexico.
I gave it a shot, raising my hands at address to the impact position. I took a swing.
It felt incredible. Something remarkable had happened. I drove to my apartment feeling relieved, hopeful, and ecstatic. I was certain that I had experienced a breakthrough. I was so excited about heading to the range the next morning that I didn’t sleep well.
With my new “high hands” address position, I immediately started hitting the ball solidly on the clubface. Every ball was solid. I had figured out how to swing closely along a single plane. My address plane matched the impact plane.
That’s when Matthew introduced me to his video from Canada. His video showed Moe from a number of angles, including from behind the ball, or what we call the down-the-line view. I froze the video showing Moe at address, and drew a line on the screen on the club shaft. I froze the video when he reached impact and drew another line along the club shaft.
The lines matched exactly. This was proof positive that Moe swung on a single-plane–on the same plane at address and at impact. I had never seen anyone do this. Matthew said many respected golf people believed Moe was the best ball-striker in the world. Weeks later, I discovered a dusty video of Moe’s swing in Hank’s files.
If my swing was somewhat similar to the person considered the best ever, well … this was mind-blowing. I was so excited. As my confidence increased in my own unique swing, I was hearing more about this guy Moe Norman. The universe appeared to be speaking to me.
Lifting my hands from two planes into the single plane was a major change from the conventionally taught golf swing. My coaches tried to talk me out of the changes saying that Moe was one-of-a kind. That no one could copy him. He was left-handed and swung right-handed, not someone you wanted to copy.
His swing contradicted all conventional golf instruction starting with the address position. What I saw in Moe Norman was simplicity. Moe’s autistic tendencies most likely helped him discover an easier way.
Ostracized by my coaches at Hank’s ranch, I was also working at a City Pointe Golf Center, a driving range just north of Dallas. Jack Kuykendall, a self-styled golf scientist with the nerve of a carnival barker, showed up at City Pointe and conducted a demonstration for a handful of customers. I listened in and determined Kuykendall was selling clubs based on an instruction methodology he called Natural Golf.
About 5-foot-8 and athletically trim, Kuykendall spoke enthusiastically about physics and kinesiology, most of which went over the head of his audience. But some of his theories about the “single-axis swing” seemed to explain elements of Moe’s swing. Kuykendall was not a professional golfer, but his belief that science could make golf easier was compelling.
At the time, Kuykendall did not know about Moe. Eventually, teaching professional Mark Evershed from Oakville, Ontario told him there were similarities between his methodology and Moe’s swing. Moe and Jack eventually met. Natural Golf eventually signed him to an endorsement deal. This was like a lifeline for Moe who was nearly destitute, living hand to mouth. “I always knew I was the best ball striker in golf,” Moe said later. “Jack Kuykendall explained why I was.”
I was playing tournament golf again and started sending video of my swing to Kuykendall for advice. On a trip to Chicago to meet with Jack, I ran into Larry Olson, an investor who eventually bought Natural Golf. Larry saw my enthusiasm for learning Moe’s move and paid my entry fees for some tournaments.
Larry invited me to a Moe Norman clinic on September 15, 1994 at a local golf range just west of Chicago’s downtown. It would be the fist time to meet Moe in person and one of the greatest days of my life.