11/06/2014

According to Tiger Woods, only two players in the history of golf have ever “owned their swings”– Ben Hogan and Moe Norman.

The former is an all-time talent still revered by the modern golfer for his accomplishments over a half-century ago. The latter, is relatively anonymous. If you don’t know Moe Norman, it might be time you learn about the man with the most repeatable swing in the history of golf.

The lore of Moe Norman lies mostly dormant in PGA Tour circles. His name known, but specifics about his career remain unknown. Stories linger. He was a curious individual, a man spewing both the nonsensical and wise alike. His uniqueness lied in the combination of talent and character. He was the straightest hitter in the history of golf.

During an exhibition once, Norman hit over 1,500 shots with his driver. All 1,500 over 7 or so hours landed over 225 yards away within a 30-yard fairway. People asked, “Moe, when is the last time you missed a fairway?” Moe would reply, “oh 7 years ago, I think.” Norman was an unmatched talent.

He wouldn’t be told what to do, especially if it was someone telling him to stop drinking Coca-cola. It was rumored he drank 24 cokes per day. After drinking those Cokes, often times he would place a golf ball on the top and hit a golf shot off it.

He never made it on the PGA Tour.

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Diagnosed by psychiatrists’ after his life as an autistic, Norman had curious ticks and an extreme fear of social interactions. He was an uncomfortably shy man. He would speak quickly and in a high-pitched voice. He would sometimes ramble off into poems he’d memorized, all of which ryhmed and held a particular meaning. His behaviour were common of an autistic. Especially given the nature of his talent.

With teeth sticking everywhere, Norman didn’t look like an all-time anything, let alone golfer. He was a portly man, often dressed down in mis-colored, oversized golf clothing. He didn’t fit the stereotype of a golfer and didn’t fit in with the PGA Tour in the states. It was his differences which never allowed him to connect with the game the way other all time greats did.

Moe Norman’s career was littered with wins on the Canadian Tour, course records and exhibitions throughout Canada. Because he was essentially outcasted by the PGA Tour, Moe went home to Canada, vowing never to return to the PGA Tour, a group he viewed as exclusive elitists. Moe was a man of the people, the John Daly without the cigarettes. The John Daly before there ever was a John Daly.

Moe Norman hit more perfect shots than anyone in golf’s history. He never won a major and only competed in a few. He never made millions. He never had golf’s conventional power. The power Norman possessed, was the ability to draw a crowd of spectators among fellow professionals. In golf, that is the ultimate compliment.

Back to where we started, with history’s two best ball strikers–Norman and Ben Hogan. The two had one well-known interaction in their lives. One day in the 1950s, the two were sharing a driving range. Hogan had a belief that every straight shot was an accident. After watching Norman hit 5 or so straight shots, Hogan would say “accident, accident, accident.”  Norman kept hitting. After watching Norman repeat the feat over and over again, Hogan left, saying, “Just keep hitting those accidents, kid.”

An ambassador of the game, Norman did hit those accidents. He hit them everday, until the day he died.

A Moe Norman poem:

I have a little robot that goes around with me,

I tell it what I’m thinking, I tell it what I see.

I tell my little robot, of all my hopes and fears,

It listens and remembers, everything it hears.

At first my little robot, followed my command,

But after years of training, it’s gotten out of hand.

It doesn’t care what’s right or wrong, or what is false and true,

But no matter what I try now,

It tells me what to do.

We offered some videos below, describing the life and tale of the 10 finger gripped man, Moe Norman. To understand better the best that never was, take a peek at some of these videos. Comment your thoughts on Norman below:


Moe Norman Videos

A Fireside Chat with Moe Norman


PART I


PART II


ESPN Special, 2005