With 18 years of golf instruction expereince teaching the golf swing taught to me by Moe Norman, I have learned much about the process of learning the perfect Single Plane Golf Swing of Moe Norman. The thousands of students I have helped have had many similar questions and circumstances regarding learning to transform their golf games. With this question and answer format, I will give insight into many of these common issues and questions.
Q. I have taken numerous lessons from various instructors and found it difficult to change my swing – why is this so?
Todd: There are two parts necessary to answer this question. First, it could be WHAT you are trying to learn and secondly, HOW you are trying to learn it. In other words, it could be that the methods you are trying are simply too difficult or you are not, as Moe would say, “giving yourself a chance” to learn.
By giving yourself a chance to learn, first you must understand that what you do and what you think you do are very different. Until you understand this simple concept, learning can not occur. Once you accept that you really do not know what to do, you then become willing to learn and receive instruction.
You may think that the goal is to swing the golf club like Moe Norman yet this is just the result. What you are really trying to do is move your body like Moe Norman which will, in turn, swing like Moe which will, as a result, strike the golf ball like Moe. This realization of process and not result is the difference between successfully changing your golf swing or not.
Q. Why is Moe Norman’s golf swing easier to learn?
Todd: The goal of great ball striking is to move the golf club with correct path, face angles and speed to impart proper spin and distance on the golf ball. Therefore, a great golf swing is a matter of proper club movement. Proper club movement has two dimensions, you (the person swinging the club) and the golf club. I call this “Where anatomy meets a golf club” because to move the club correctly, you must use your body as a machine using the golf club as a tool. The question therefore is “What is the easiest way to strike a ball on the ground using the body and a golf club?” Moe Norman, figured out that if you set the club on the same angle at address that it will return at impact, that he could repeat ideal impact more easily. This is what we call the Single Plane simply identifying that address and impact can be in the same place.
Every good golf swing must impact the golf ball on the plane of the golf club design. This simple fact of addressing where you impact simplifies what the body must do to achieve perfect impact.
Q. How then, can I make changes to swing like Moe?
Todd: There are a number of things that must happen for significant changes to occur. There are two basic ingredients to the success formula: Repetition and Time.
Scientists have discovered that it takes 10,000 hours to master any skill. This amount of time separates the average from the masters. When you learn to drive a car, you begin as an unskilled, conscious, driver who, through repetition and practice, learn to drive a car unconsciously without thought. You learned this through repetition and time. We all know this formula yet when it comes to golf, many people want to skip the learning process, run to the golf course and play golf. They get frustrated and often quit the game.
Q. How do I shortcut this process?
Todd: This is the one million dollar question that the western society spends much of their time focused on. The answer is to make sure that when you are using repetition and time, you use them wisely. The more wisely you spend your time with quality practice, the shorter the learning process becomes. This means that every moment and every repetition counts. So don’t waste time and don’t waste repetitions.
The New York Times published an article where they interviewed various coaches teaching the best athletes in the world. They asked the question “what is the worst thing you can do to a athlete in training”. The coaches answered, “have them do it wrong (fundamentals) ONE time”.
Q. Tell me more about the learning process.
Todd: I can tell you both about my experience learning from Moe and my experience helping others swing like Moe. Many people think they can think their way into a better golf swing. If this were true, better thinkers would be the best golfers. You must realize that your mind does not teach your body a skill. While you might read books to learn about something, learning how to do something does not occur until you actually DO something. It is the doing that is the teacher. You can know that a flame is hot but you can never learn that a flame is hot until you touch it. It is not the mind that teaches the body, it is the body, through experience, that teaches the mind.
A common misunderstanding is that there is a phenomenon called “muscle memory”. While it seems that when trained, the muscles remember to move correctly, muscle memory does not describe the total picture. A more accurate understanding of how the body represents learning would be better described on a cellular level where every cell of your body remembers. You can not have a sick heart and a healthy body nor can you have an arm remember the back-swing but a leg that does not. The body works holographically (a sum of parts acting as a whole) where the entire entity learns and remembers. Moe expressed this brilliantly to me when he said; ” I don’t know how to swing it badly”. What he was telling me was that he really only knew what he was trained to do, and what he had repeated thousands of times.
Q. What did Moe tell you that helped you learn his swing?
Todd: Moe taught me how to do this in a number of ways. He called his swing the “Feeling of Greatness” and often discussed with me that he learned his swing by teaching his “body-mind”. When Moe talked about the “body-mind” he would tell me “my body memorizes my golf swing”. In other words, he was teaching himself through the repetition of movement. Moe often made the comment ; “i learn from every shot, even the bad ones. “This “body-mind” teaching is what separates those who change and those who do not and when I finally understood and learned to teach my “body-mind”, I realized that it is actually very simple and fun.
Q. How do you suggest I start learning the Moe Norman Single Plane Golf Swing?
Todd: Where most people make the mistake is that they do not have clarity in their objective. They start running before they have learned to walk. What I usually say is that “baby steps always move forward while those who move too quickly before they are ready often go in a circle and end up where they started”.
To begin learning, you must understand what EXACTLY you are attempting to achieve and you must start by taking small steps. This is why we use the modeling process by observing Moe Norman’s perfect golf swing and using this as our guide. Once you are committed to the model and you are willing to dedicate time and repetition, you are ready to start the transformation which can occur rapidly if you take baby steps.
Q. Once I am willing and committed, what should I do?
Todd: Develop and Understand the exact fundamentals. This means that you must get the fundamentals perfectly correct. I suggest training aids, mirrors, video cameras, instruction and any way to make sure you are practicing correctly each time your practice. Remember, use your time wisely.
Q. I understand all of this, tell me more about how, if you had it to do all over again, learn to swing like Moe?
Todd: I love this question because I wish I could do it all over again. You must understand that when I learned from Moe, all I had was Moe and my mind. Moe knew the feelings but I had to interpret them with my mind. It was still a trial and error process for me and it took me at least two years to grasp the full understanding to train my “body-mind”. Today, I find it quite easy to train myself anything new because I know the formula of time and repetition. Knowing this formula, here is what I would do if I started all over again. First, I would only hit golf balls into nets where I could not ever see a result. My only measurement of success would be whether my body moved like Moe or not. I would then, slowly use tools to achieve perfect fundamentals including the PVC drill, training club and alignment trainers learn to move exactly like Moe Norman. I would start extremely slowly with the PVC. During this practice time, I would video every movement to make sure I was like Moe. Once I was exactly like Moe, I would repeat it.
My goal would be to move exactly like Moe and train my “body-mind”. I would also make this process fun and interesting.
Q. Do you consider Moe Norman’s golf swing a method?
Todd: I believe that there are mainly two types of instruction in the world today – those who teach methods such as “stack and tilt” and those who blend all of the methods together and try to just help a golfer get better. I call this the “tip of the day” type of instruction. In my opinion, there are many ways to “get the job done” and this opens the door for many methods and theories. You can hammer a nail with a sole of a shoe or a wrench. These are methods for hammering a nail. Once you learn that a hammer works better, you realize that the hammer is easier and designed for the job. The hammer is the solution for the task and you never use a shoe again. Many would consider Moe’s golf swing a “method”. I do not. I consider Moe’s golf swing the solution. Why? Because of bio-mechanics and the fact that Moe’s golf swing was the perfectly designed tool for the job because he discovered a way for the human body to strike a golf ball more efficiently. He found a way to make the body a hammer. Moe found the answer.
Q. Do you agree with Natural Golf and don’t they teach Moe Norman’s golf swing?
Todd: I have an extensive history with Natural Golf. Much of this early history is good where we have partnered on various levels. Over the years as Natural Golf changed owners, our relationship increasingly became strained severing this partnership. Mainly do to the fact that Natural Golf does not teach Moe Norman’s golf swing yet they continue to use his likeness to sell clubs. One reason for the separation is the fact that I do not believe that you do not need special clubs to swing like Moe. Natural Golf manufacturers clubs that are long and upright with large grips. After teaching thousands of students with these clubs, they have shown to inhibit people learning to swing like Moe. I believe that all clubs must be custom fit to you when you swing like Moe therefore, you need to work on Moe Norman Single Plane fundamentals and have clubs fit to you and those fundamentals. Furthermore, Natural Golf continues to use Moe’s likeness and reputation in their marketing, yet they do not use him as a model for their teaching. I believe this is a mis-representation of Moe Norman and always has been. Now that Moe has passed, I believe it is important to uphold Moe’s legacy accurately otherwise, companies like Natural Golf will paint a confusing picture of Moe Norman for future generations.