The Atomic Precision of Moe Norman

Too idiosyncratic for the PGA tour, Kitchener Ontario’s antisocial golfing savant was one of only two golfers in history who truly “owned their swing”

By Dave Bidini | Wed, May 10, 9:31 AM

“To this day I’ve never seen anything like it. I couldn’t believe that Moe could hit shots with zero side spin. You don’t see robots with zero side spin”

           —Karen Gray, golf executive

One thing people say about Moe Norman is that he sometimes lived in his Cadillac. This may have been partly due to his eccentricities—he was a golfing savant and a curious thinker—but, in practical terms, it meant he was always close to the golf course. He could park, open his door at dawn and then hit the links, a place where he was born to live. Raised in Kitchener, Ontario—where he passed away in 2004—he could strike the ball with atomic precision. According to Tiger Woods, Norman’s “single-plane” action made him one of only two golfers in history (the other was Ben Hogan) who “owned their swing.” He dominated Canadian golf at various points between the ’50s and ’80s and played briefly on the PGA tour, where he was cast out for being too idiosyncratic—for example, he played too fast for slow-paced tournament golf. He was also considered antisocial, likely because he found comfort in solitude and had little patience for socializing. Norman loved golf—and golf courses—so much that he slept in a bunker when the weather was good (better there than a bucket seat), and he would just as soon return to a cheap hotel than cavort in an elite club. Because he was missing several front teeth, he was hard to understand. However, in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. Moe Norman expressed himself through striking a ball. The game was his voice and his voice was the game.

Follow Dave Bidini on Twitter @hockeyesque

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