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Moe Norman: The Rain Man of Golf

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This is a true golf legend never truly getting his deserved recognition. Many golf pros stood in awe at his swings.

Moe never really fit in.

Moe never really fit in.

The Canadian Golfer Known as the King of Swing

Murray Irwin "Moe" Norman was born on 10 July 1929 in Kitchener, Canada. Life was not easy for Moe. When he was about five years of age, he was on the back of a toboggan with his friend when they crashed and slid under a car. He managed to walk home bruised and sore; days later, his teacher and mother noticed a change in his speech. During his life, this injury was suspected to have contributed to some small brain damage. He showed some symptoms of autism, but this may have simply been the effects of his untreated head injury.

In his pre-teen days, Moe started caddying at a local club, playing the game with Gary Cowan and Gerry Kesselring. To make ends meet, he set pins at the local bowling alley. In 1949, Moe had his first win in a one-day event at St. Thomas Golf and Country Club, where he hit a 67. He eventually turned pro in 1957.

By that time, it was noticeable that Moe was a little different. He was considered eccentric and a poor dresser. He would repeat himself over and over when he talked, annoying the other golfers. Moe was a solitary man who avoided newspaperman and the public.

Moe was unique with his turtleneck sweaters, his sneakers, and his ratty golf bag. But when he was swinging a golf club, onlookers stood in awe of the accuracy in his consistent straight shots.

Moe never won a U.S. Open or a PGA Tour. He rarely competed in tournaments outside of Canada. However, he won 65 Canadian PGA Championships between the years 1966-1974. He won the Canadian Senior Championship every year except for one from 1979-1987. Over his career, Moe won 54 tournaments, had 33 course records, shot 59 three times, and had 17 holes-in-one.

In 1995, Moe was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, and in 2006, he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. He is considered to be one of the greatest Canadian golfers of all time.

He did play briefly on the PGA Tour, but he was bullied by the officials and some players. He was so upset that he vowed he would not play on the American tour again. They told him to fix his teeth, dress better, and keep quiet.

Moe's Swing

Moe's Swing

Moe's Famous Grip

Moe's Famous Grip

PGA Pros Give Credit to Moe Norman

According to Tiger Woods, "Only two players own their ball strikes, Ben Hogan and Moe Norman." Agreeing with Tiger was Paul Azinger and Lee Trevino. Vijay Singh has said that Moe was "God's gift to golf."

Moe had a few good friends such as Gus Mauve and his wife Audrey, as well as Wally Uihlein, the president of Titleist. During a merchandise show, Uihlein shook hands with Moe and asked him what golf balls he used. Moe said he only used Titleist for 40 years, and Uihlein was astonished that he never had sponsorship and immediately offered Moe $5000 per month for life. When Moe asked what he had to do to earn it, he was told, "Only use Titleist balls."

For years, Moe was barely making it financially. He wasn't on the PGA Tour making millions. He lived in motels, his car was his closet, and he sometimes slept in bunkers at the golf courses. Now with the sponsorship from Titleist, his living arrangements would improve.

When Moe died in 2004, his funeral was attended by a mass of pro golfers and Uihlein, all giving eulogies of high esteem for him. He would have been great on the PGA Tour, but his shyness and idiosyncrasies held him back.

Moe is buried in Memory Gardens, Ontario, Canada.

When Gus Mauve was asked to go through his things after his death, he found in his pants a couple of Titleist golf balls, 3-4 golf tees, and a watch. In his truck, he found $20,000. Hidden in his Cadillac were 1000 golf balls, 10 pairs of golf shoes, and two sets of irons. Norman hated banks and kept his cash handy.

In the Rockway Golf Club in Kitchener, Canada, there is a room dedicated to Moe Norman filled with memories and achievements.

In 2002, a movie about Moe's life, King of Swing, was released. The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story by longtime friend Tim O'Connor, is both heartwarming and full of facts about the life of Moe.

Moe's Room Rockway Golf Club

Moe's Room Rockway Golf Club

Comments

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 27, 2020:

Thanks for your visit MG. my son loves golf also. He had a double eagle on a Par 5 once!. Enjoy your golf.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 26, 2020:

Very interesting article I play a lot of golf but I hadn't heard about this gentleman. it was wonderful to read about Moe Norman.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 25, 2020:

surovi99, thank you for your visit. Love your comments.

Rosina S Khan on December 24, 2020:

This is an interesting account of Moe Norman, a great golfer. Although I am not a sports fan, I enjoyed reading his biography. Maybe I will develop an interest in sports through your gorgeous articles. Merry Christmas, Fran. God bless!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 24, 2020:

Very nice information. Amazing.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on December 24, 2020:

CJ, thanks for reading. My son loves to golf and I never heard of Moe but my son, of course, knew of him. Moe was a special person who overlooked bullying and kept to himself.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on December 24, 2020:

Did not know anything about Moe. Great story. Thanks. Sharing.

Merry Christmas.

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