Moe Norman

How about reflecting on those of us who don’t fit in?  Many in society look at them and sneer.  They don’t talk right.  They don’t dress right.  They make some of us very uncomfortable.

Moe Norman was a Canadian professional golfer.  His constant chatter was punctuated with repeated phrases, such as “Not bad!  Not bad!”  At the same time, he was overwhelmingly shy in social situations.  His clothes were old and ragged.  He sometimes smelled bad.  He often slept in his car.  He stood on the tee with feet that looked impossibly far apart, and swung straight back and straight through – no classic turning of the body.  He’d walk up to his ball on the fairway or green, and just hit it – no waggle of the club, no studying the line of the putt.

Moe never made it to the big bucks of the PGA Tour.  During his few tournaments on the Tour, he was ostrasized by some of his competitors.  Moe went home.

And yet … golfers such as Tiger Woods say that he was one of the purest strikers of the golf ball who ever lived.  Moe hit it straight and true – over and over again.

Here are a few stories:

At an exhibition in Toronto, Sam Snead warned Norman that he couldn’t carry the creek 240 yards from the tee.  “I’m not trying to,” said Norman, who calmly stroked his drive across the walking bridge to the far side of the hazard.

Leading by three shots on the final hole of a tournament, safely on the green in regulation, Norman putted deliberately into a bunker, just to make things interesting. He got up and down to win by a stroke.

Norman died a week before the 2004 Canadian Open.  He’d had bypass surgery several years before, and upon waking from anaesthesia, he was asked if he knew where he was.  On the third green, he said, at the London Hunt and Golf Club.  Doctors were concerned, but in fact the hospital where he lay was built on the former site of that club.  The building that held his room was located where the third green used to be.

I need a world that makes room for Moe Norman, in fact a world that embraces him, and those who follow him down the streets and fairways of life.

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