Editors' BlogNovember 8, 2007

A fresh look at Moe Norman

Nick Weslock was an obscure but exceptional amateur from Canada who played in four Masters and won more than 400 tournaments worldwide, including four Canadian Amateur titles. Weslock's death at age 89 on Oct. 27 was chronicled throughout Canada, including this nice farewell story in the Toronto Star.

Weslock bore another important distinction. He was one of the very few souls whom the legendary Moe Norman knew and trusted. When I sought to interview Norman at length in 2004, Weslock was a very vital emissary. He not only escorted Norman to a course outside Toronto for the visit, he did much to help the shy and wary golf genius open up. He cajoled the child-like Moe, encouraged him, jogged his memory and, best of all, helped him articulate his thoughts on his incomparable golf swing. It was the last interview Norman ever gave. He died suddenly two weeks later. I was grateful to Weslock, for the My Shot with Moe Norman was one of the most interesting in the series.

Shortly after Norman died, I received a letter from Weslock in which he reminisced about his friend and talked about his golf swing. Weslock felt, as do many others, that Norman was the greatest ball-striker of all time. Along with the hand-written letter were two small, original photographs of Norman taken by Weslock himself. I've had them blown up and posted on the wall of my office, for they are unique. During one of their many casual rounds together, Norman, at the behest of his friend, froze a couple of his positions during the swing to emphasize what he was trying to do. They provide a nice bit of insight into what Norman thought he did during his swing as opposed to what actually happened. Moe Norman's perception of the swing is as interesting as as captivating as the real thing.

Moe_norman_pic1_4

In the first picture (click on it for a larger view), Norman staged his position midway on the downswing and explained to Weslock that he was "trying to stick my right elbow into my stomach." Weslock noted this was an anti-hook device which, combined with Norman's exceptionally weak left-hand grip, ensured he would never hook the ball. Note how open the clubface is.

Moe_norman_pic2_2

In the second photo, taken on a separate occasion, Moe is demonstrating impact. Weslock noted that Moe took enormous pride in how straight he hit the ball, and on this occasion was again demonstrating why he never hooked. The openness of the clubface is almost comical, as it is aimed a good 45 degrees to the right of his target. Moe obviously was stretching a point. "It's unusual and very difficult to keep your head so far behind the ball and not rotate the clubface closed, especially with your right heel stuck to the ground like that. But Moe wasn't like the rest of us!" Weslock wrote.

Norman and now Nick Weslock are gone now, but I thought this episode from their friendship and mutual love of golf was worth sharing. We won't see the likes of either of them again.

--Guy Yocom

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