Dustin Johnson tomorrow. To quote Keith Jackson, “Whoa Nellie!!!!”

I want to warn all of you. This article is going to sound like a scathing criticism of Moe Norman’s golf swing and his ability to play golf. Not true. Moe’s swing worked for him and he is possibly the straightest hitter ever to play the game. My scathing tone is directed at the marketing of systems and copying other people’s golf swings.

A few anecdotes about Moe Norman. In case some of you don’t know some of the legends, here are a few. First, he often ends sentences by saying things twice. “Perfect shot every time, every time.”

He once walked off the course at Augusta during the Masters because the play was too slow.

During an exhibition with Sam Snead, they came to a hole with a creek at 235. Snead layed up with an iron and told Moe he should do the same when Moe had pulled out his driver.

“Bridge is bigger than the ball, bigger then the ball.”

Moe then proceeded to drive the ball across the bridge. I played with a guy once who claimed to have been there when it happened.

I heard the same day he played the second 9 backwards and shot par. In other words, hit wedge off the tee and driver to the green. 5 iron off the tee and driver to the green…and so on.

Please post any more stories you have heard, as there are so many.

Anyway, on his swing. Moe was a great ball striker, maybe the straightest of all time, if you believe the legends. I will be the first one to say. Moe’s golf swing is terrible. I will repeat my mantra for this run of videos.

Golf swings don’t make great players. My comments about all of these swings have nothing to do with any of these players’ ability to be among the best in the world.

I will say it again, because it goes to my entire point about the golf media and the selling of systems, books and DVD’s. Moe’s golf swing is terrible…for anyone but Moe to use. For Moe, it was poetry in motion. Everyone I have seen try to copy Moe’s swing as a disciple of natural golf is poultry in motion.

I know, I am nuts, we have already established that and it’s ironic that Moe was a little nuts himself. Actually, since we are being brutally honest, Moe was crazy by all accounts and so is anyone who teaches people to swing like this.

Unless you are a short squatty guy who plans on hitting literally millions of balls on the range, this swing is not something you want to copy. Did Moe hit the ball straighter than me? Yes. Did he hit it straighter than anyone who every played? Possibly, but not because his swing was some revelation what we should all copy.

Moe is proof positive that “feel is not real.” He himself talks about how there is no hand rotation in his swing, but there is massive hand rotation at the bottom and after impact. More than any great player who ever played the game. Why? Because Moe has little to no lower body rotation, which is what almost every great player has used to square the club.

Moe basically takes it away and just throws his hands at it and the evidence is that his club is over rotated after impact. His lower body is in the same place as it was at address which is why he has to use only his hands to square it. Your hands and forearms do rotate to square the club, but in sync with your turn.

His entire setup of wide stance, straight knees and ball far enough away so his arms can make a straight line with the shaft, is all directed at limiting his body’s ability to turn so he can just throw his hands at it and square the club.

Standing that far away, all you can do is whip it too far inside like he does. Then to get the club back on plane, he reroutes his hands over the top and holds the angle which gets the club back underneath the plane and he massively rotates the face with his hands just before impact to square it. So he goes from inside, to over the top, to underneath, to square. That is a lot of manipulation and timing required. Thus the 4 million balls he hit. 🙂

There is so much late club rotation with the hands, he can’t possibly keep his hands in front of his chest and that is why they exit so high.

I am really tired of people inventing teaching systems based on a unique move that is the exception. Hogan is another example of this. There is a reason why Hogan and Norman were so great. It wasn’t because of any of the false feels that either of them had, spoke about at length and people designed swing systems around. They were great because they practiced their butts off and learned to time a move that felt good to them.

Trevino bowed his left wrist and played a controlled slice and was the only great to do that. I know no one wants to play a slice. Nicklaus had a flying right elbow and Gary Player often stepped his right foot over his left after impact. They were the only all time greats who did those things. So I guess we should all bow our left wrists, fly our right elbows and after impact, step our right foot over our left and start walking down the fairway all in one motion. Since Tiger dives his head at it, maybe we should do that too. Doesn’t sound right? Here is why.

Moe was a singular talent who probably hit more more golf balls in his lifetime than any 10 great players put together. That is why he was a straight hitter and to be redundant for affect again, not because his swing was some secret move of perfection handed down from the same God that struck the priest in Caddyshack with lightning. After hitting balls till his hands bled, it was the move he got to work for him.

We shouldn’t be searching for the unique qualities of great players and copy that. We should be finding what all the great players have in common and that is what we should be looking to.

Rant over for now, but will continue on a regular basis.

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21 Comments

  1. Bob Saunders

    Thanks Monte. I appreciate it.

    Reply
  2. Banner 12

    Monte, you are missing the boat with Mo and Natural golf. After years of instruction with traditional golf without success I tried natural golf and immediately began hitting the ball straighter THE FIRST DAY!

    The reason is simple, you are not rolling the forearms rather you are taking the club on 1 plane back and forth. This is done with the strong/weak grip which locks the forearms in place. And you need to practice less, not more because there is less need for timing than in the traditional golf swing.

    You are also facing the ball the entire swing so you don’t lose sight of it and the wide stance prevents too much hip turn, but you are not restricting it consciously.

    This system is all in the setup and once set up correctly all one has to do is swing smoothly.

    The average person not born with the ability to swing a golf club (99.9% of us) would be crazy not to use this method. I teacher I know out here who teaches both methods says his students are 90% Natural golf and 10% traditional.

    I could go on and on since I have seen the light, but do not think this is a system for old men who can’t turn that have to hit 1 million balls to get it to work.

    You learn it in a day or 2 and never have to practice again.

    That, my friends, IS the Holy Grail of golf…

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      I will just respond by say we can agree to disagree and Moe rolls his wrists more than any great player. Watch the video in slow motion.

      I am not going to respond on this debate because no one wins and it ends up in an argument where we all waste our time.

      Reply
      • Banner 12

        OK. I don’t want to get into a long back and forth on this either.

        Last thing I will say is that Natural Golf is a 1 plane swing (that is, the wrists cock on the plane of the club, not 90% to it), and a that 1 plane swing is a lot easier to preform than a 2 plane swing, hence the ease of learning it and the remarkable consistency using it.

        Reply
  3. Monte Scheinblum

    Banner 12. Sincerely, if it worked for you I am thrilled. There is no one way to do anything in this game. Whatever works and we just have our opinions.

    Reply
  4. Mike

    Just wanted to say that your blog is terrific – I really look forward to reading each new post. I actually know a guy who, years ago, traveled all the way to Canada to try to get a lesson from Moe to learn his “secret.” Unfortunately, he neglected to tell Moe he was coming. When he got there and located Moe, Moe refused to even talk to him. Memo to self: Don’t travel a thousand miles for a lesson unless the teacher knows you’re coming.

    Reply
  5. MS Golfer

    Best story I heard about Moe (no idea if its true) was during a golf tournament. He was leading by 2 shots and hit his ball 10 feet or so from the pin on the last hole. As he was walking up the fairway the guy he was playing with starts talking and says, “You know, there is this guy coming up on tour and I’ll tell you he’s pretty special, by far the best bunker player I’ve ever seen, his name is Gary Player and I know you’ll hear of him again.”

    Moe (supposedly) walks up to his ball, and to the amazement of his playing partners putts his ball back into a bunker. He then hits it out to tap-in range, knocks it in for a bogey and a 1 stroke win.

    He then walks over to his playing partner and says “Now I’m the best bunker player you’ve ever seen, best you’ve ever seen…”

    Reply
  6. peter

    Monte…what is your understanding of Hogan’s comment”Its in the dirt”?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Never heard it before. Don’t know the context, but I have found with comments form Hogan that what he feels and what is actually happening is often two different things. No offense to Hogan, it is that way with pretty much all golfers.

      Reply
  7. Michael Lavery

    Moe Norman had Popeye forearms and unless you have his grip strength and forearm density you will never get his distance with his type of swing. There are so many players using Natural Golf that hit it straight but I have rarely seen anyone using this system come close to the length that Norman achieved.

    Reply
  8. craig

    Yes, Mr. Scheinblum, we have our opinions. But, maybe you should consider the science/physics of the golf swing before you attempt to shut off “debate” because no one wins. I believe that you don’t know as much as you would have us believe. Moe was the greatest (straightest, pure backspin) ball striker ever by age 19, winning the Canadian Amateur Championship twice in his mid-twenties. As Lee Trevino said, “he would have won them all (majors).” He was the only golfer ever tested by Titleist whose shots had no sidespin. Now well past your prime, I submit that you could only wish to have been as good a ball striker. Moe’s swing well into his thirties was longer than the video(at about age 60) you have and above his right shoulder at the top of the backswing. You state that we should copy what all the great players have in common. So you are not against teaching others what great players do. So why can’t I copy Moe? Because he doesn’t look like other great players, NONE of whom hit it straight as Moe? Maybe I should copy what these great players have in common: Furyk, Couples, Hubert Green, Trevino, Gay Brewer, Miller Barber, Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Snead, Nelson and all of those guys who have so much in common. By the way, Moe also held the club better than anyone, in what is the optimum way to hit a ball resting on the ground with a stick, because there is PROVABLE less rotation of the club head through the impact zone. But, that might be too complicated you to understand, Mr. S, as you continue to copy that great golfing scientist of 125 years ago, Harry Vardon. His finger grip must be the best, since everyone (except Moe) has copied him for the last 125 years. And, Mr. Lavery, there are many who use Moe’s grip and hit it farther than he ever did.

    Reply
  9. Rflex

    Wow. Craig is absolutely convinced as to the correct way to hit a golf ball and you’re suggestions are not it! I can only say that if Moe Norman was as great as the legend, golf gurus and players would have beaten a path to his door and there would be dozens and dozens of golf books and videos displaying the “Moe Norman” way. No doubt Moe Norman was a great ball striker, but that doesn’t mean the best way to hit a golf ball was Moe’s way. Hang in there Monte, a lot of us enjoy what you are writing, and of course the anti-“made for TV” golf videos with t-shirts and cargo shorts. Just move into the sun a little more instead of standing in the shadows….P.S. seriously….that’s not a metaphor…you need to get in to the sunlight so we can see you better.

    Reply
  10. craig

    Poor logic, Rflex. Gurus and players follow the religion as passed down to them without questioning. They won’t allow the scientific facts to interfere with their perceptions, and so they never will be as good as they could be, including Mr. Scheinblum and Tiger Woods, because they would definitely hit many more fairways and greens. Despite the advancements in teaching tools and golf equipment, there is little improvement in the average golfer’s score and as many quit the game as take it up. I have seen every great player since Hogan in person and know that Moe was as good as his legend. No one ever hit it straighter. No one will ever hit it straighter. If you’re really interested in the facts, suggest you check out single axis golf, which by the way several top players are using or are close to, though they probably don’t know why they have evolved to the method.

    Reply
  11. Zebadee

    All I can say is that the Mo Norman methos works for me

    Reply
  12. Yannick

    Any way you can can swing the clubhead fast enough while squaring the club face to the target line and having a constent club path to the ball is the way to go.

    Reply
  13. Kent De Matteo

    Hi Monte, Kent De Matteo here! I played @ Essex Golf & Country Club with you and terry Treblecock way back when! You shot 67 and I have been following youre career ever since then! I thought you would make it big, but it take a lot more out on the PGA than just massive distance, I guess. I had a back operation in 200a to reapir a ruptured disc. L-4, L-5, S-1 and switched to the Moe Norman swing about 5 years after that and it is definately, Let me repeat that definately easier on the back! As a matter of fact I can not even swing conventionally without the fear of ending up in traction. You are right about swings for different horses, but this swing should be copied by all with back issues. I look forward to hearing from you, Kent

    Reply
  14. Nommo

    I made it to the European Senior Tour with a Moe alike golfswing. Watch The Open next month and you will see who I am ha ha

    Reply
  15. Bill

    I took up Moe’s swing and I have never hit it straighter, or more pure. I do not roll my forearms. I set the club 12″ behind the ball as did Moe, take it up at a 45^ angle across my shoulder and bring it straight back to the ball and straight down the target line for approximately 2 feet and up at 45^ thereby finishing a one plane swing. Again, I never roll my forearms and I have the sweetest feeling of impact ever. I have watched many of Moe’s videos and never saw his forearms turn over until they were halfway up to the finish position. That means his forearms did not turn as they traveled down the target line.

    Reply
  16. tony

    Moes swing is the easiest on the back period, tried 2 plane for 25 years low round 67, now my back is broken. Moes swing works for some(me) but not all, you need to swing flat and retain your core bend ( butt out) on the downswing. If you can do that , swing like Moe, ball goes straight, very straight.

    Reply
  17. Leon Berkowitz

    I am also so sick and tired of these so called marketing companies advocating methods that take advantage of desperate people. And if one has played this horribly addictive game for any length of time, we all know how desperate one gets when your game goes south as it sometimes does:) I am talking about the leadbetter’s of the world as well, with he’s so called A swing which came out around 3 months ago.
    As the great swing teacher John Jacobs said ” If you learn a grip that brings back the club head square and if you learn the correct setup you are 90% of the way to hitting a golf ball to the best of your natural ability” Let the flight of golf ball be your teacher and learn the geometry of the golf swing.

    Reply

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