Being a bartender in Dallas has very few benefits especially at Big Fat Mike’s Pub. I never met Big Fat Mike but there were plenty of people I met at the bar that I would spend years trying to forget. The only good thing about working the night shift at a bar is that it leaves the days open for playing golf. Unfortunately I had quit playing. Working behind the bar serving others drinks actually keep me from drinking – maybe the only other benefit.
One way to survive the life of a bartender is to hire your best friend to work as your backup. So I hired the only other college educated bartender in Dallas to help me at Big Fat Mike’s – Scott Collins. Scott is the smartest and wittiest human being I know. Having him at the bar kept me sane as we served drinks to the locals and in between shots, talked about golf.
Big fat Mike’s was a rowdy place. Free pool and beer night didn’t attract the friendliest crowd. Not a great place to bring a date. There were nights where petty arguments would quickly escalate into a brawl. To survive, I became friends with the local police department vice squad officers and invited them for free drinks on their nights off. I kept them on my call-list for the nights I worked. The management at Big Fat Mike’s learned that my shifts usually included three or four undercover cops openly carrying sidearms. I had recruited a group of personal body guards. My college education and management skills were paying off!
It was about this time that my college roommate Matthew Lane came to visit as he traveled through Dallas. He just had returned from a stint on the Canadian PGA Tour and was raving about filming a mysterious Canadian named Moe Norman hit balls during a clinic. I remember Matthew’s words as we watched the video in amazement
“Mate, he hits it perfectly straight. He’s amazing. He’s a freak”.
Even though I didn’t have the success I expected with Hank he taught me an invaluable lesson – the concept of swing plane. Hank understood swing plane better than anyone. The movement of the golf club as it relates to its “plane” is a key factor to consistency. Hank was adamant that the club must move in a specific way as it relates to the target. The club is either planed or not planed. Swing plane and path are directly related. Plane is the design of the club and path is the angle of the plane.
As I watched Matthew’s video of Moe I finally saw exactly what Hank was trying to teach me – ideal swing plane. Moe did it in a much easier way. Moe matched the address plane of the club exactly with the impact plane of the club. Moe’s swing was a Single Plane movement not a two plane movement that I had learned my entire life. Watching Moe’s swing simplicity I literally had a “Holy Shit” moment. I didn’t fully understand his genius at the time. Moe looked different. He looked a bit unorthodox and had some major differences in the way he addressed the ball. He made swing plane look so simple.
I didn’t see Moe’s swing as radical. It looked to me as thought he simply addressed the club pointing at the ball. It made sense. It reduced the amount of unnecessary movement to make hitting a ball simple.
The next afternoon, Scott and I decided to spend the afternoon hitting a few golf balls at the Hank Haney Golf Center in downtown Dallas – a few miles from the bar. I couldn’t wait to try out Moe’s Single Plane version of Swing Plane.
When I walked on the range I was greeted by Hank Haney and his instructors with skepticism. They all felt that Moe was an anomaly. I felt like and outcast. I had abandoned the tribe for the “crazy Canadian’s” golf swing.
Instead of setting up with my arms hanging traditionally straight down, I pointed my arms and clubshaft at the ball. I dropped my right shoulder a bit and took my hands just past shoulder height in the backswing. Bracing into my lead knee and keeping my feet flat on the ground I returned the club directly back to the ball – exactly to the plane where I started at address. As you can guess, the ball flew perfectly straight. I ran back to the camera to take a look at the swing. Sure enough, I had started and impacted on the same plane for the first time in my life.
From this moment I would never take another “conventional golf swing”.
So how does this relate to Moe’s swing being relevant on the PGA Tour? The point of telling my story is that Moe’s swing is not radical. Yes, its unconventional as compared to the traditional teachings that I had found confusing and complicated. One of the largest problems was that there was no real model to follow. It was a guessing game until I saw Moe’s swing. I didn’t look at Moe’s golf swing as different, I looked at it from the perspective I learned from Hank Haney – swing plane.
Moe’s swing answered the most fundamental question that every player, even tour players should be considering – ‘is my swing on plane and can I consistently get back to the same moment of impact?” Thanks to Moe, I actually finally accomplished exactly what Hank had tried so hard for me to do – get the club on plane.
Simplicity, Swing Plane and Impact create consistency. Whomever decides that those things are important will benefit from the Single Plane Swing. I no longer ask “Why isn’t Moe’s swing on the PGA Tour?”
I only ask “Who wants to learn an easier way?”