Friday, November 7, 2008

Don't Ever Change

It was back in the mid-1950's when Moe Norman's talent first became a topic of conversation. There was no doubt about it the Kitchener kid could play golf.
Loads of stories abound about Moe. Not all, but most are suprisingly true.

Here's one. It's recounted in Tim O'Connors Moe biography The Feeling of Greatness - The Moe Norman Story. The book is available direct from Tim O'Connor's site for $19.95 Canadian. Here's a link: . You can also buy it at the Link Below

In 1955 Moe was part of the Canadian contingent in the Amerca's Cup Amateur Championship. Moe faced Bill Campbell one of the strongest players on the US squad that year. If you don't know who Bill Campbell is, he is a career amateur and winner of more than 30 major Amateur events in the US including the US Amateur in 1964 and two US Senior Amateur titles in 1979 and 1980. He was also a two time President of the USGA. Here is a link to his profile at the World Golf Hall of Fame -

Anyway, the story goes that the talented and unflappable Campbell had his match well in hand by the time they reached the 34th hole of their match. You see Campbell was 1 up and had whipped his tee shot on the 146 yard par three 16th to under 2 feet. Winning the hole would put Campbell 2 up with 2 to play. Campbell remarked at that point that this would be a hard hole to win. Ahhh but he was playing Moe Norman. In Moe's words "I hit an eight iron. It went four feet past the cup and came back to drop. That squared the match." A hole in one. When they reached the green Moe turned to Campbell and said "I'll give you that one" As one reporter wrote "The unflappable Campbell was flapped." Moe went on to win the match.

Of Moe, Campbell remarked in a speech later that day "He is a very, very fine player, both mechanically and instinctively. He is potentially one of the greatest players of our time. His hand action is the finest of any player I have ever seen."

Which leads to a conversation between Moe and Sam Snead at the 1956 Masters. Moe was on the practice tee and Snead came over to watch. Moe was hitting long irons. Snead's advice was to swing those long irons as if they were fairway woods and sweep those long iron shots off of the ground. Fine advice Moe thought and he then hit 800 balls wore his hands into a mass of blisters and then withdrew from the Masters the following day after 9 agonizing holes. His playing partner Vic Ghezzi and also the Tournament brass were not impressed.

What were Snead's parting words to Moe? "Son, you've got the best pair of hands I've ever seen on a golf stick. Don't Ever Change."

But he did change in the mid-nineties and that is the grip and hand action that we have come to know from all of the modern videos of Moe. That was not the grip he used the day he played with me.

Here's an link to Tim O'Connor's fine book .

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