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Wednesday, 11 October 2006 22:13

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The Legend Called Moe Norman



'Mit Sicherheit Charles Mickle ist einer der besten Golflehrer Europas in der heutigen Zeit'

'Without doubt Charles Mickle is one of the finest and most accomplished golf instructors in Europe'


He is the role model ; the ideal ; one of the best golf instructors in Germany and Europe. Charles Mickle combines the characteristics of a fair, witty and intelligent personal teacher "or:" A relaxed, student understanding teacher who knows what he is doing, guides, encourages, praises but also tests.






Charles Mickle Golf Academy





Moe Norman





Moe Norman may not be the first name that springs to mind when we think of a great player or an eloquent golf swing but he was perhaps the most accurate golfer that the world of golf has ever seen. Moe was a Canadian who won the Canadian PGA seven years running, a phenomenal player. Moe used what we would call a Single Plane Swing which should not be confused with a one plane swing he also had many technique characteristics that are contradictory to the modern golf swing. The single plane swing that Moe used was probably the reason for his success.



Moe Norman shot 41 course records, he had 17 Holes in One, he shot 3 rounds of 59 and four of 61, we doubt there has ever been a more accurate player except for Iron Byron the ball testing machine used by the USGA.




A few quotes from Great Players.

Lee Trevino said of Moe, "I don't know of any player, ever, who could strike a golf ball like Moe Norman, as far as hitting it solid, knowing where it is going and knowing what he wants to do with the ball. Moe Norman is a genius when it comes to playing the game of golf."


Vijay Singh was asked this question: Who's the best golfer you've ever seen?"
Singh's answer: "Moe Norman. I've hit balls with him lots of times. He was incredible. Whatever he said he could do, he could do. If you talk to Lee Trevino and the other greats of the game, they'll tell you how good he was. He could talk it, and he could do it. God gives people little gifts, and Moe had a gift for golf."



Moe Norman once played an exhibition match with Sam Snead in Toronto, Canada in 1969. On a par-4, a creek crossed the fairway about 240 yards from the tee. Snead warned Moe that he couldn't clear the river with a driver. "Not trying to," Moe said. "I'm playing for the bridge." Snead's shot landed safely on the near side of the creek. Norman's drive landed short, and rolled over the bridge to the other side.


Sam Snead and Lee Trevino have openly said Moe was the best striker of a golf ball in the game.


Tiger Wood's commented in 2004, "Only two players have ever truly owned their swings - Moe Norman and Ben Hogan," Woods said. "I want to own mine. That's where the satisfaction comes from."


Moe was a very shy man and although he tested his skills on the PGA Tour, he never felt at home there, and returned to his beloved Canada, where he was idolised by the Canadian public. Moe once sensationally hit 1,500 consecutive drives into a 30 yard circle 265 yards away, without missing once. In fact he was known the world over for this accuracy but his swing or method was called many things “ strange, weird, different, unorthodox” , but his genius in hitting a golf ball was revered the world over.


So, What made Moe Normans Swing so Accurate?

Moe was known for putting his hands on his swing plane as he addressed the ball, and bringing the club back to the identical position during impact. View the photo’s below.



Address                                                                                             Impact




Moe stood far from the ball as the blue line shows, he also stood or addressed the ball with both legs pretty straight. He held is right arm very high and on a plane with his shaft plane, which is pretty much unique. Norman, however was not totally on the single plane throughout his swing. He swung back slightly flatter than the ideal single plane yellow line and in the downswing brought the shaft back onto plane, where it stayed until impact. The swing,  as the distance from the ball would indicate was very in to in or around. Moe transferred his weight quite excessively during the backswing and then kept his right foot rooted to the ground during the impact zone, which reduced his hip movement.. As the above photo on the right shows.



Mark Calcavecchia below like most players holds his hands much lower at address with a normal and distinct two axis arm position. The blue shaft plane line with the yellow circle on it indicates the turning and axis point of his spine. The spine would normally rotate around this circular axis point. Which is what Moe Norman did really well , but we can see how Mark changes angle his during the swing.



The photo on the right shows us something alarmingly different to Marks address position, Mark Calcavecchia’s axis point has risen and it is now shown by the yellow line and circle on this back. The axis point has changed quite remarkably, his arms are also very much higher than his starting angle. Nearly all of our modern players do this exact same movement, (good one plane players are excluded from this statement), but Moe Norman did not, compare Moe's photo’s with Calcavecchia's and it will become apparent that the circle on Moe’s back remains exactly the same, this is a single plane swing. In fact, Moe’s big secret was that his spine angle changed by only 2 degree’s during address and impact, whereby a normal player can change their spinal axis point by up to a massive 15 degree’s.




This has huge implications for the design of the iron head and particularly it’s lie as you can appreciate. The image above would certainly dictate that if Mark had properly fitted lie angles on his irons at address, they most certainly would not be correct during the impact zone, causing a digging in of the toe and a spinning out of the club head, most notably leading to an open club face. Is this the reason for Moe’s Normans accuracy?

Moe would have had more upright lies on his irons because of the upright shaft angle at address and also his upright shaft position was parallel to his right arm, bringing the club shaft back to the exact same position during impact, implies no need to manipulate the club face as others need to do, and the impact properties of the clubs lie would be neutral.




The importance of a flat club head angle during impact cannot be over emphasised, as it is this property that heavily influences how the ball will fly. We know that if the heel digs in first the ball will fly left of target and if the toe digs in first the ball will fly to the right of the target. Moe’s club head angle would have been absolutely flat through impact with no twisting and turning of the club head and resulting mostly in straight arrow like shots.




So what do the other professionals do in their swings? They hold their hands lower at address and allow centrifugal force to lift and straighten the arms through impact, enabling an explosion of power. This centrifugal force causes the players body to either stand up during impact or to move backwards , or the spine angle must change to allow for this straightening up or moving out of the address plane axis.

Because this happens during most two plane swings an extra 4-7 degree’s can be added to the distance between the shoulders and the club head, failure to stand up, move backwards or change spine angle would in essence cause the club to strike 4-7 degree’s behind the ball. One of the major drawbacks is that the player must stand up exactly the same amount of degree’s on each and every swing in order that the contact is good and consistent, otherwise the ball will be hit either thin or fat.





Bringing the arms up to a single plane position allows the player to keep a constant spine angle and work within the axis. The photo’s of Moe show how little that axis changes throughout the backswing and the impact zone. The average player needs to hit many thousands of balls just to have the chance of getting the timing and rhythm right in correcting to between 4-7 degree’s of shaft angle change with every swing and that’s a major reason for inconsistency, and it doesn’t tend to function that well either, primarily because the clubs sole cannot be flat through impact and that causes twisting and turning of the club head and the balls off target flight.


Moe held the club not only on plane, but on his swing plane and that enabled a constant spine angle throughout the swing, making him the most accurate golfer the world known,  except for Iron Byron.




"What's the longest walk in golf? It's from the practice tee to the first tee. I don't care if it's 10 yards. It's the longest walk in golf. Winners take their swing with them. Losers don't." - Moe Norman.





Iron Byron.






One day in the 1950s, Moe and Ben Hogan were on the practice tee together at a pro tournament when a spectator asked Hogan to take a look at Moe.  Hogan believed any ball hit dead straight was an accident.  After each of the first six balls he watched Moe hit Hogan said, "Accident."  After watching Moe hit several more Hogan said, "Just keep hitting those accidents, kid."



So, there you have it. We now have four totally separate and successful working golf swings. All with their separate operating properties and rules. There are many players, Men, Women, Kids, and Youths, Professionals and Tour Players who unfortunately incorporate many or only some of the properties or key moves/positions of these four separate working golf swings into their own golf swing movement. This is one of the major reasons that players become inconsistent, or have loss of form.




Finding a Professional Instructor who knows his way around these totally different swing types, their rules and their key functioning positions is going to be your hardest task in my opinion. Just like in school, a Teacher is either good or bad and just because a Professional calls him or herself a Professional does not:



A) Make him/her a good player.

B) Make him/her an Excellent and knowledgeable Coach/ Instructor.

Many Golf Clubs and their Committees, sadly, do not have very much idea of what a good Professional is and often just hire one because his/her eyes have the right colour, sort of thing.


This is absolutely not in the interests of the Golf Clubs members at all, they will only end up going elsewhere for lessons etc. A Golf Professional can have many different qualifications, attributes and skills that make him/her great. However, a professional from Columbia or Poland is certainly never going to have the skills that a British PGA Professional can offer, even though they also call themselves “Professional” there are massive differences.

So what makes a British PGA Professional better?



a) We have the hardest handicap entry, which makes us the better players from the outset and we then have to pass the tough PGA Test Playing Ability at the Belfry, venue for the Ryder Cup


b) We are schooled in Business Education and Merchandising ,Marketing and Hospitality Management.

c) We know all about Clubs, Shafts, Club Repairs and Custom Fitting.

d) We know all about the Rules of Golf.

e) We are excellent Golf Swing Technicians, some are outstanding.


d) Sports Science, Biomechanics and  Tournament Administration.


f) We are all professional Ambassadors and protectors of the Game of Golf.




There are many countries in the World and each country has its own set of rules governing entry as a PGA Pro, some have abysmal standards in my view, if you want a great Pro look for a PGA Professional from Great Britain as they have the highest entry standards in the World and also the hardest and most stringent PGA Qualification, which also incidentally is the hardest 'Sports Examination', in existence.

If you have a bad Pro, I'd bet my last Pounds he has a qualification from a third World country (sort of thing )....




There are 7 levels of membership within the PGA, a Class AA or Qualified Professional being one of the lower membership levels. The better qualified professionals have all continued to study and have achieved greater things in their fields of expertise…..


The British PGA prides itself on being the ‘Best in the World‘, a leader in its field. That is why they produce the finest PGA Professionals.


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