Hitting a golf ball correctly takes years of practice. Center yourself over the ball. Start with your arms straight and bend a little at the waste. Rotate the club backwards in an arc up towards your shoulder while twisting the hips to follow suit. Drive the clubhead through the ball like a hockey slapshot with your hips, arms, and shoulders. Finish with the club on your opposite shoulder.
It’s the move we’ve seen countless professionals and struggling amateurs perform thousands of times at the most elite tournaments on the planet. It’s the stroke Tiger Woods learned from his father at 6 months old.
If you want to win a golf tournament, the pros say, follow those steps: pull back; twist up; drive down; rotate through.
The pros agree that’s the only way.
Except it isn’t.
At 26, Moe Norman stepped into the tee box on Augusta National for his first shot of the 1956 Masters Tournament.
And broke every convention known to golf.
No hip rotation. Instead of swinging back at one angle and slicing down at the ball on a much steeper angle, it was a perfect arc with a noticeable bend in his knees as he makes contact, ending with the club straight up in the air, instead of resting on his shoulder.
It was weird. But accurate. A technique he started formulating on his own at 15.
A technique that made him radically better than anyone else on the planet.
He could hit 20 golf balls back-to-back-to-back into the area of an apple crate.
Over the span of 7 hours, he smashed 1,500 drives–all of which landed within a 50 foot radius.
His shot was so consistent, golf legend Ken Venturi nicknamed him “Pipeline Moe”.
He shot 17 holes-in-one.
9 double eagles.
3 times he shot a “perfect round”, averaging at least a birdie on all 18 holes.
He broke 33 course records.
And at just 26, he was invited to The Masters, the greatest tournament of them all, where the golfing world learned of his prowess.
But at his first appearance at The Masters, he had to drop out after 36 holes–because his hands were bleeding.
He had spent the previous night hitting an additional 800 golf balls. He just wanted to master a tip given to him by Sam Snead, the man known to have the “perfect swing”.
He was driven to succeed in his own weird way, and people mocked him for that.
The same weirdness that led to greatness led to countless ridicule.
He dressed funny – even for a golfer.
He was incredibly shy and repeated his words often. He had bad teeth. His golf clubs didn’t have covers and so were known to have dirt on them.
Top ESPN golf correspondent Scott Van Pelt painted him as “a man who lived far outside the pristine, cookie-cutter world of the PGA tour.”
And at a PGA tournament in New Orleans, PGA officials were fed up with his “weirdness”. In 1959, Moe shot the greatest game of his PGA tour, finishing just off the podium in 4th place.
He was getting noticed. And not in a good way.
PGA officials told Moe to stop being so weird, stop rushing his play, and stop hitting off gigantic tees.
Stick with the system. Blend in. Do what everyone else is doing.
If he could change, they’d let him stay and keep playing.
But Moe knew that wasn’t for him. He liked who he was.
So he left the PGA scene and went back to Canada.
The game he loved so much rejected him.
That’s when the revolution began. Moe would set the world on fire.
He tore up the Canadian circuit with brutal accuracy while American golfers swung frustratingly inconsistently.
Moe had an incredible career in Canada, racking up over 50 wins and winning the senior tournament 7 out of 8 times.
The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame inducted him in 1995.
The Ontario Sports Hall of Fame inducted him in 1999.
The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame inducted him in 2006.
But Moe’s greatness never made a splash on the biggest scene of them all: the PGA. All because he let personal attacks drive him away.
Just like we all do.
“Sit down.” “Be quiet.” “Obey the rules.” “Don’t make a scene.” “People are looking at us.”
It’s what we tell kids every day. It’s what’s been ingrained in us since we were kids: “Stop being so weird.”
And that’s why success seems impossible
You can’t win if you want to fit in more than you want to accomplish your dreams.
You aren’t willing to do what it takes to be successful.
And what it always takes is being weird. Being laughed at. People pointing fingers at you. The crowd mocking you behind your back.
Tiger Woods, the most dominating player in his era of golf, said about Moe Norman that it was “frightening how straight he hits the golf ball”.
Most professionals consider Moe the greatest ball-striker of all time.
In a game where placing the ball where you want it is the only thing that matters, Moe was the best.
Just because you are the best doesn’t mean that you’ll get to where you want to be. It doesn’t mean that you will accomplish your goals.
You have to be willing to be that weirdo. Are you?