Moe Norman. The “Golf Rain Man” who surprised even the greats of sports

“Golf is like a walk in the park, walk in the park … He repeated to himself,” O’Connor added, describing Norman’s words. “He was singing in his voice with this kind of singing, his eyes were kind of rolling all over.”

But like Babbitt, Norman’s unusual character was accompanied by a sense of genius. His golf skills were such that he earned the title of “best ball striker ever”.

At a time when golf legends such as Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Lee Trino regularly won top titles, Norman had only appeared in the Masters twice, but his accuracy still earned him the respect of many of his friends, earning him the status of a cult figure.

Through his unique “single-plane swing” that he created, practiced and improved, from which current players, such as US Open winner Bryson De Chambo, have now taken elements, Norman was able to hit the same point several times. Fruit or green with perfect regularity.

Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.

Whether it was shyness about the newcomer, his “eccentric” personality, or the fact that he never enjoyed the same success on the PGA Tour as his contemporaries, those who knew him say that Norman often just did not fit.

“We live in a culture where we celebrate celebrities, those who have reached the highest level. “Moe did not do that,” O’Connor told CNN Sport. “The Feeling of Greatness. The author of “The Moe Norman Story”. . “Moy was this beautiful character, he was a very difficult person.

“And I think if Moe had been in the last 20 years, maybe we would have accepted his eccentricity, he could have blossomed a little more.”

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While Norman's character was described as

Different from the beginning

Born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1929, Norman spent his childhood days playing hockey with friends. However, when he discovered golf, his life began to change, but at some point O’Connor says:

As Norman’s interest in golf flourished, which was further fueled by his regular involvement with a local club, his working-class family questioned why he chose to pursue a sport often associated with elite members of society.

Despite Norman’s ever-increasing passion for the game, his family “completely rejected” it, which led to Norman ignoring their support when they finally came to watch him years later, according to O’Connor.

“His family was against what he loved,” O’Connor explained. “And it really caused a rift in the family, a complete alienation.”

In his late teens: in his early 20s, Norman devoted himself to perfecting his “plane swing” so that he could hit the ball wherever he wanted, with remarkable accuracy.

The “single plane pendulum” was Norman’s attempt to improve the effectiveness of the shot, to remove the number of variables involved. Turning to the ball, Norman ensured that the club’s shaft position was maintained during the shot; It was a pendulum that synchronized the movements of the hips, shoulders, arms, and hands.

Norman Oakdale Golf Club 1977

Such was his swing to perfect his devotion, there are stories that Norman spent so much time on practice that while he was leaving, his shores were bloody from the repetition of his practice.

Later in his career, Norman ran a fan clinic where he demonstrated his accuracy. He would even attract the attention of fellow professionals, that was his accuracy.

However, winning the tournament was not his ultimate goal for Norman. The process of hitting with a clean ball was more “worrying” for him, which he described as a “feeling of greatness” to O’Connor.

For a year, professional Todd Graves tried to learn Norman’s swing from a video given to him by a friend; but he says his first attempt to see the Canadian hit the ball up close still spoiled him.

“I do not think I have ever seen anyone do what Moe could have done with a golf ball, such as the backlash of the flight, the glass he would have struck the golf ball with just such simplicity,” Graves said. – Founder of “Graves Golf Academy”, – said CNN Sport.

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Graves overlook Norman at Pine Needles, South Carolina, 1998.

‘It’s very strange’

Only by truly trusting his closest friends could Norman have been “very strange” if you had not known him, according to O’Connor, who recounts how a golfer once ran away from a restaurant during an interview for Norman’s own book. – Just to alleviate the anxiety he felt about a certain line of interrogation.

Given the traits of this personality, O’Connor says that some people later speculated that Norman might be on the autism spectrum.

The list of symptoms of autism by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes avoiding eye contact, wanting to be alone, repeating or repeating words or phrases, or not being able to repeat “words or phrases instead of ordinary language.” to relate to others or “have no interest in other people at all.” Each of these symptoms, in retrospect, could have been related to Norman.

Norman touring with players during the Telus Skins game at the Canadian National Golf Club in 1995.

However, while studying his book, O’Connor discovered another possible theory that explains the personality traits of Norman.

When Norman was about five years old, he and his friend were out in a sleigh և as they were sliding down the road, he was hit in the forehead by the tire of a reversing car, according to O’Connor.

With no broken bones, his family did not take him to the hospital, and neuroscientists interviewed by O’Connor found that Norman’s different personalities could be due to a frontal lobe brain injury.

“He knew what was possible in life. He simply could not express it as many people would. He did not receive any jokes at all. “And he just lived in this very limited area of ​​golf, he came out as a weird character for a lot of people,” O’Connor said.

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Norman felt

Feel at home

On the golf course, however, Norman was in his element.

O’Connor recalls stories when Norman easily talked to spectators during rounds, even betting on spectators whether he could bounce the ball over his driver more than 100 times or hit the pockets of their shirts.

Graves, who is also the executive producer of the upcoming documentary about Norman, recalls talking to Henry Brunton, a former Canadian PGA expert, during a training course about Norman’s behavior.

While Brunton described Norman as “overconfident” with a club in his hand when he collided with only his friends at the clubhouse, he “looked like a 12-year-old”.

“She was scared. He did not understand how to deal with other players. “He was so scared of his peers,” Brunton told Graves.

Although he was very successful in his native Canada, Norman competed on the bigger stage of the US PGA Tour.

While he scored more than 60 victories during his Canadian tour, Norman played in 27 events on the PGA Tour in 15 years, only topping the top 10 once, earning just $ 7,139.

He also played in five Senior PGA Tour events, earning $ 22,900 in prize money.

He played only twice in four majors, playing for the Masters from 1956 to 1957.

According to Graves, it was difficult for Norman to adjust to life in a new country without knowing his support system.

He also had to endure at least one alleged incident, which took place from an unknown partner. In his second year of touring, he was in the middle of a tournament with two players, where Norman was fighting, he said. tees “, – according to O’Connor.

American PGA, which conducted the tour prior to the founding of the modern PGA Tour in 1968, did not respond to a request for comment from CNN.

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Golfers carry the coffin of Canadian golf legend Norman.

“It made Moy feel for the rest of his life that he did not feel he belonged, that he was not welcome there,” O’Connor added. “Because he just had the feeling that they did not love him. And if Moe was going to feel that people were for her, or that they were here, that he was here, or that he was ignoring you, he would write. “You left.”

Later in life, money was also a problem for Norman. According to the 1995 Golf Digest, the golfer lived in a motel room for $ 400 a month, keeping his clothes in his car. Later in life, golfer Titleist paid Norman $ 5,000 a month for the rest of his life for his service to the sport.

Just a few years later, in 2004, Moe Norman died at the age of 75. And although he did not achieve the tournament success enjoyed by his contemporaries, the legacy of this true golf pioneer, the self-proclaimed “ball’s best striker”. When to live “should not be forgotten.

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