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.