The Real Moe Norman Review by Greg Lavern and Lawson Mitchell
The first thing I would like to say about this book is “Thank You Guys” for writing it.
RMN is a down home real look at one of golf’s great ball striking geniuses and legendary Canadian players. Moe was more that just a great ball striker, he was a fine player and extremely accomplished.
The book is basically two books rolled into one. The first part takes a look at Moe on a more personal level and gives a great insight into who Moe really was, not just as a golfer, but as a person of integrity and a seeker of quality and truth both on and off the golf course.
The book is effectively narrated to us through the eyes and ears of Greg Lavern and Lawson Mitchell who were both very close to Moe. I’ll say this again, it is very important that this book was written because Moe didn’t leave us any substantial written or film accord of his life’s work in the game of golf.
The second part of the book deals with Moe’s thoughts and beliefs about technique and striking a golf ball. This is where Greg Lavern does a superb job of translating Moe’s visually unorthodox techniques into something tangible and applicable to all of us.
We also get an insiders view of Moe during his peak years as a player, not the sideshow circus act many perceived him to be through youtube videos or other instructors faulty interpretations of an elderly Moe doing clinics and so forth.
I like this book because Greg gets Moe right. He was Moe’s best friend and they practiced and played together for years both in Canada and down in Florida in the winter months.
Like all great strikers, Moe worked hard. A fanatical ball beater and obsessive practicer.
I’ll mention here that this book is basically an independent release unadulterated without the typical censorship of a major publisher. I’m thankful for that. This is a great reason to own this book. It is very unique in this way, honest and straightforward.
I won’t get into the very fascinating, informative and interesting relationship that both Lawson and Greg had with Moe, because you’ll will want to read this yourself.
There is so much in the first few chapters to entertain and amuse you, that it would be best to take that journey yourself as a reader. Being a member and player of the Canadian Tour myself from 1987 through 1993, I was fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time with Moe and in the Canadian Golf scene of that era.
Many of the names as places described in the book brought me right back to those days and I can attest that the authors are credible figures. But reading through the wonderful descriptive pages I’ll mention a few quotes of Moe’s that hit a chord with me.
As we move into the second part of the book we get Greg’s reflections on what Moe taught him with direct and personal knowledge. Moe’s swing secrets.
In the instruction part of the book, Greg discusses in great detail Moe’s thoughts on the grip and the suggested variations you can apply to your own grip. Greg discusses Moe’s thoughts on posture and stance and Moe’s unique arm position which I completely agree with for anyone using a swinging protocol as Moe did.
The illustrations demostrating Moe’s methods are telling and insightful.
Hitting or swinging, both Greg and I are big believers in a wide stance for support,
and also pre setting the backswing as much as possible to eliminate the awkward first initial move away from the ball at address.
Moe’s thoughts on the backswing and transition are discussed in detail and how important the vertical drop and the function of the lower body are in initiating the change of direction and flattening of the golf club into the downswing. The picture of Moe on page 112 making this vertical drop transition is unique and compelling if not outright inspiring. I like some of the lower body suggestions that Greg puts forth as exercises to master the move. Any suggestion that Moe was a “One Planer” should be quietly put to rest.
Greg discusses the advantages of maintaining left knee flex through the impact arena as Byron Nelson had shown us also. Moe was a big proponent of this kind of stable leg support which inhibits an OTT move of the shoulders. Moe was adamant about “swinging through the ball not at the ball”.
Though Moe swung the club on a more upright swing plane or as a “shoulder plane” based swinger he was well aware of the concept of a flatter shallow entry into impact. From Lawson’s notes from the early 1960’s:
“Moe made a flatter plane adjustment on the downswing. He came into the ball on this adjusted plane because he wanted to stay shallow and low through the ball. He reasoned that with this downswing plane his ball would not go left. When Moe did rarely miss a shot, the miss was to the right not to the left. Moe preferred a shot short right than long left”
That sounds all too familiar!
Moe was also a big fan of Gary Player’s swing because he made a great vertical dropping action.
Moe also didn’t believe in looking at the target from behind the ball, but believed that the game should be viewed from side to side or at a 90 degree angle… that being the proper perspective. I found the chapter on Moe’s preshot routine particularly interesting.
One of my favorite things about this book is Greg Lavern’s photo sequence demonstrations. It’s comforting to see that Greg can actually swing very similar to Moe. Much better than I have seen any other “Modern Moe” protege’ or instructor claiming to teach Moe’s methodology. I was impressed enough by Greg’s action that I hand crafted a persimmon for him from my collection and sent it to him in Moe’s honor. We both know Moe detested lightweight modern gear.
Greg goes on to discuss Moe’s approach to playing sand shots and his unique SW for doing so.
In finishing off the book I couldn’t have been more inspired to see Greg’s infusion of a Martial Arts influenced exercise regime to aid in learning Moe’s protocols. Greg clearly understands the importance of proper body conditioning to swing a golf club. Greg himself is a Shodan Black Belt. I have always felt a kinship between golf and the Martial Arts. Anyone swinging a heavy stick around their body at high speeds should see some kind of meeting of the minds.
If you are a serious student of the game, you need this book in your collection.
Thank you Greg and Lawson for taking the time to put this wonderful book together.