The Moe Norman Legacy
WHAT WILL BE THE LEGACY OF MOE NORMAN? Will he be remembered for his quirky and eccentric personality and his failure to exploit his talent on the PGA Tour? Or will he be remembered for his contribution to golf — his amazing golf swing and what I consider the discovery of an easier way to play golf? This is a topic of conversation I often have with my brother and our team at Graves Golf Academy. I recently discussed this with David Carver, an entrepreneur and producer developing a movie about Moe.
Moe was a fascinating character. His personality and relationship left a trial of great stories and exploits. It seems that every golfer from his era has a Moe story, even the one who never met him.
The Meriam-Webster Dictionary defines Legacy as: (1) a gift by will, especially of money or other personal property; bequest; or (2) something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
So what personal property did Moe leave us? Better yet, what can we receive from him even if he is no longer with us?
Yes, there is no doubt that Moe will be remembered for his quirky and eccentric appeal. His stories help us understand his character. They make us laugh and sometimes wince. But since Moe didn’t leave us with any money or the contents of the back seat of his car, Moe will be remembered by his contributions to the sport of golf – if we are willing to take advantage of what he left.
I believe that Moe legacy began in the grassy fields of Rockway Golf club in Kitchener, Ontario. That’s where his hands bled as he worked through his human insecurities to develop the greatest golf swing to ever hit a ball. I believe that Moe’s inability to fit into society fueled his passion for golf. He outworked everyone. “It’s hard work – you can’t buy it,” he remarked when I asked him how he learned his golf swing.
I agree with Moe. You can’t buy a great golf swing. However, you can copy it. And so began my relationship with Moe Norman – the legendary 64 – year – old who was, before I met him, nothing more than a myth. He was not a young man, but he was childlike and passionate about golf. We often talked about life, his tribulation on and off of the course. I always pushed and prodded him for more “secrets” to help me become a better golfer. At first it was a selfish endeavor. I wanted Moe to give me his secrets.
I was full of questions: “How did you learn that?” “Where do you place your left hand?” How do I get my clubface more on plane?” “Why do you place the club so far behind the ball?” I soon learned that Moe didn’t have any secrets. His swing was as paradoxical as his life. On one hand, he could only explain his golf swing with cryptic adjectives, making me wonder if I was stupid or he was crazy. “I play into my legs and let my swing balance me,” “I swing like a pendulum, no twisting or turning.” On the other hand, Moe was a genius in describing his swing through the feelings it produced in him. I think he developed his explanations out of necessity and the fact that he found all these types of questions too complex to be answered simply. “I squeeze the club like I’m drawing blood with my left hand – my right hand is along for the ride” and “I have a vertical drop in my downswing” and I feel like the club is going behind me – way behind me.” He even stole some of this feelings from others, such as this one from this longtime PGA teacher and friend Paul Bertholy: “Buckle, Sit, Slide and Bump” – a description of his lower body movement. And “Rod” and “Claw” to describe his lead arm and trial arm positions. Eventually, Moe would sum it up calling his swing “The Feeling of Greatness.”
The problem with Moe’s “Feeling of Greatness” is that asking Moe to describe it would be like asking Pavarotti how he sang. There is really no way to describe it, at least not in any sensible way that makes it coherent and applicable to the average person. Over ten years of practicing and playing with Moe, I learned that Moe didn’t have any secrets. He was the secret. He was the researcher, the entrepreneur, the developer of technology. He was the product – an easier golf swing that could be copied.
This is where I came in and the Graves Golf Academy was born with the mission to bridge the gap between Moe’s feelings and the science of his swing. I consider myself the translator of Moe’s feeling into an understandable formula, based on the science of physiology and movement. But Moe’s swing is not rocket science. It is easily transferred to anyone who wants to try it. It is simple once understood.
Today, I teach the Single Plane Swing – a system to teach Moe’s golf swing mechanics that every golfer can apply and simplify his game. Moe swing defies the established methods and thinking and mechanics. It defies convention.
We have well over a half million people who have contacted us. Over 60 percent of the students who came to our golf schools are desperate – some expressing hopelessness. Often, when they express their frustration, “This is my last chance I am going to quit the game” is the sentiment. As interesting as they may be, these students don’t care about my relationship and stories with Moe. They want what I wanted when I met Moe – help and hope for themselves and their golf game. Seeing how his swing technology helps them improve and enjoy their lives, takes Moe’s contributions to an entirely new level.
Moe’s Legacy has more than his character or his golf swing. His legacy also includes how knowing Moe Norman can help our lives so that each one of us can take what he left us into the future and enjoy our own “Movements.”
By Tim O’ Cannor – firstname.lastname@example.org