Golf's Heretic: Mo Norman
The Mad Heretic of Golf Moe Norman Preaches A Revolutionary Swing Technique Known As "Natural Golf"
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96
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Yet that unorthodoxy is also his charm, for the athletic movements of a Jack Nicklaus or a Nick Faldo--demanding the keenest coordination of hips, shoulders, arms, hands and club--are generally too complicated for the Everyman. The average guy will occasionally reach the promised land of blasting balls with a square club face, but for every scratch shooter, there are thousands of slashers struggling in hellish rough.
Their desperation has spawned a multimillion-dollar industry of golf instruction, featuring a supermarket array of swing doctors along with scores of "miracle-working gizmos."
Amid all these traditional tipsters and gurus, it takes a certain leap of faith to discard the teachings of a Harvey Penick or David Leadbetter, men long celebrated for working with the PGA Tour's brightest stars. But for too many weekend golfers, the old-time religion just doesn't work. Instead of improving, they only know the continuing frustration of infernal double-bogeys.
Among these sufferers, Natural Golf (a recent start-up corporation using Norman as a consultant) is sounding a message of hope and redemption. Very 1990s, the catch come-on is, of course, "user friendly," for unlike those Richard Simmons-like contortions in conventional golf, Norman's "less maintenance" system promises "by keeping everything so simple, there's less potential to screw up."
"People laugh at me, but that's OK," insists Norman. "They also reviled another reformer, Jesus Christ. I'm the only person who can make tight fairways seem wide and open. I'm one of a kind."
After that Messiah-like reference, Norman shows that Natural Golf is indeed on the upswing. He gets into his car and drives off, smiling behind the wheel of his new gold Cadillac DeVille.
A few days later I'd enjoy my own taste of "Heaven." But first came a trip to golf school.
Stuck with a 14-handicap, unable to improve even with repeated instruction, I was an excellent candidate for Moe's less-is-more approach. His $100,000 price tag for a month's worth of personalized teaching was a bit too steep for me, so I did the next best thing. I took my troubled swing to a Natural Golf executive camp, checking into The Registry Resort in Naples, Florida, for two days ($1,900--higher for longer visits) of sumptuous beachfront accommodations and a golf overhaul.
Natural Golf will dismantle your entire swing--starting anew with totally different mechanics--so be prepared for a radical break with conventional teaching. That's why Natural Golf advocates like to say their program is best suited for beginners. These unseasoned golfers come to The Registry with little baggage, fewer bad habits--and much less skepticism to overcome.
My own transformation began pleasurably enough. No boot camp wake-up calls. No drill sergeant barking orders to a platoon of wanna-bes on a firing range. Remember, this wasn't one of those oversubscribed "factory" schools where you're given the shaft and told to bomb away. It was an executive camp, so I lingered over breakfast, reporting for work on the putting green at a very manageable 10 a.m.
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