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Saturday Ticket: Lorne Rubenstein's Moe and Me

My Sympatico Saturday Ticket — a longer feature I write for the website every few weeks, is now live. The feature focuses on Lorne Rubenstein’s new book, Moe and Me, which I found an interesting read:

Meeting Moe Norman isn’t something you easily forget. For me, it occurred a couple of years into my career as a reporter in 1999. I’d been invited to a golf tournament at Devil’s Pulpit, a private club north of Toronto. The event was in July and the weather was hot and sticky. As we went down to the range after checking in, someone mentioned that Norman would be doing a clinic.

Even though I knew who Norman was and was aware of his incredible golfing career and his unique personality – some claimed he was autistic — but I wasn’t fully prepared to witness him in the flesh. As the thermometer pushed 30, Norman stood on the range in a pink long sleeved dress shirt and pants that were some version of pale green. As a group of golfers gathered round, Norman pointed to one of the men and loudly proclaimed, “I’m going to show you how to hit it straight – hit it straight.” He then took his exaggerated stance, with his legs far apart and his arms reaching forward towards the club and whacked his driver straight as an arrow into the range in front of him. His swing ended abruptly, but the shot was perfect, made all the more impressive because it was the first swing of the day.

“You’d pay me a million dollars – a million dollars – to be able to do that,” he said, grinning and pointing at one of the nearby golfers. He was right – some on the range that day surely would have. Norman pounded balls in rapid succession for a half hour before the tournament started – high shots, low shots, hooks, cuts – all the while,chatting animatedly with those around him, often in clipped passages, repeating phrases and words. I continued to watch him as the other players drifted back to their carts and prepared to start the tournament. As Moe sweated and wound up his exhibition, with his pink shirt untucked, I quickly went up and shook his hand. He’d put on an incredible display, especially considering he was 70 years old at the time. His ability to enforce his will on a golf ball – to make it do exactly what he wanted – was something I’d never seen before and rarely since. It was the only time I met him.

The remainder of the column is here. 

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Jeff Lancaster

Jeff Lancaster is the Publisher of CanadianGolfer.com.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Rube! I look forward to reading your new book. Moe was quite the character and I know you were always intriqued by him.

    Be well and good luck!

    Lil’ Rube

  • Lorne,
    I can’t wait to read your book about Moe as I know you had a genuine affection for him, not as a golfing phenomenon but as a person.

  • For those lucky enough to have seen Moe in action on the golf course, it was a treat. Some, of many examples, include:

    – Taking a wedge off the tee on a par 5 (that was my wedge shot on this hole he would say). He then hit a 3 wood to 10 feet on his third shot;
    – A river with a concrete bridge was just in front of the green on a long par 5. He called his shot which was to bounce the ball off bridge (with his three wood) onto the green which he then successfully executed.

    We all hear about his amazing ball striking ability but to witness it first hand was something remarkable.

  • Moe was quite the character. to say this is an understatement. I was lucky enough to have met Moe a few times but would not go as far to sya we were friends. Henry Brunton was one of the true friends Moe had and that is how I met Moe whn working with Henry at Lionhead. Henry told me not to approach moe or try and start a conversation, which I always did. If moe wanted to talk to you, he would. A few years later I am Director of Golf at Cardinal. One day there is a 36 hole shotgun getting ready to go out and through the crowd of people I see Moe. I go up to him and say hello. He starts talking to me so i ask him what he is doing here. He looks at me and says “checking up on you, checking up on you” . With that he left.

    I called Henry to tell him what had happened. Henry started laughing and told me Moe knows where you are and if in the area he will drop in and say hi!

    That was Moe!

  • Nice work, Rob — I got my hands on an advance copy as well and it’s definitely worth picking up. Lorne’s writing is always good but really shines when he’s not constrained by column length. A revealing and powerful read.

  • I did not think the book Moe nd Me was all that good. It is clear to see Lorne Rubenstein is on an ego trip and did not have the real closeness to Moe he makes out from this lack of knowledge displayed in his book related to Moe’s actual character. The author Rubenstein certainly does not have a clue what Moe did in his golf swing or either does Craig Shankland who supplied little in sight to Moe’s golf swing in the swing section. It is a shame that journalists like yourself give props to another Journalist to keep good relations but the actual true merit of the book is buried. Robert, not only yourself but other journalists have made their comments of praise probably because the author requested as part of the boys club. It is time to speak out and I am the true authority on Moe Norman from my long relationship of practice, play and close friendship during the seventies and eighties. You can say I am the spoiler of opportunists that want a piece of Moe since I can actually determine what is truth and what is based on opinion that has no merit. Rubenstein can fool the public by utilizing his media connections though not with someone that lived it and really knows. Robert, you will soon have the opportunity to read the very best book that will ever be written on Moe Norman. The new book I have presently been working on will include secrets from Moe’s teachings to me. I have held back world class information from the public for over forty years that Moe only wanted Greg Lavern to know. Thanks GL

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