The True Moe Norman golf swing and How Clubs fit into the Single Plane Golf Swing Theory, Anatomy and a Simple Understanding
In 1993 I was finished with golf. Working with the best instructor in the United States had worsened my ability to play the game I loved so much. My frustration had grown so great that I decided to quit playing and find another direction with my life.
This new direction didn’t last long. I couldn’t stay away from the game. One year later, I found my mind asking a question that would result in the founding of the Graves Golf Academy. The question was this: “What is the easiest and best way to hit a golf ball to play the game of golf”.
Many take this question for granted looking at the PGA tour for the answer considering the tour players are the best ball-strikers. However, I had played my share of tour events to know that this was not true. The guys on the PGA tour were some of the best scorers in the game but they were not the best ball strikers.
This question also implies that there is a simple way and that simple is better. I assumed that simple was better because so far golf was difficult. Who wouldn’t want and easier way to play the most difficult game on the planet?
This question also suggests that there is a best way. Best, in my opinion, meant relative to physics, kinesiology and science.
By asking this question, I was trying to do what few had ever done in the game of golf, solve the mystery of why everyone did not swing the same way.
Ironically, the best players in the world; my tour playing friends, led me to my answer. It came in the form of Moe Norman and his single plane golf swing.
During a clinic, watching the amazing ball striking that my friends raved about, the very first words I ever heard Moe speak were: “It’s so simple it’s laughable”.
Moe Norman: Anatomy and Kinesiology Meet a Golf Club
It is a fact that Moe Norman swung the golf club on a single plane, which simplified the golf swing. This simplification made Moe one of the greatest ball strikers in the history of the game. To see a further explanation of Moe’s single plane, click HERE (will open in a new window).
After years of knowing Moe, analyzing, practicing and discussing with him his golf swing, my knowledge goes beyond just conjecture. Moe was the best ball striker so far in the history of the game because he moved the golf club in such a way that made it easier to get the clubface square to the golf ball, more often. As Moe put it, “I have the fewest moving parts”.
I discovered Moe’s genius for myself. Not only did Moe have the fewest moving parts, he also had the most efficient moving parts. It was this simplicity and effortless that allowed Moe to hit a golf ball so efficiently. Because of his swing mechanics, Kinesiologists would agree, that Moe had an advantage.
So what was the Kinesiology behind Moe’s swing?
The answer to this question reaches beyond a simple grip change and is the magic to Moe’s single plane, simplifying golf and helping you achieve Moe-Like results.
Before we go too far into the technical aspects of Moe’s perfect biomechanics; a simple, Todd Graves, understanding of anatomy will help. It is relatively painless and goes something like this:
Your hand is attached to your arm, which is attached to your shoulders, which are attached to your torso, and spine, which is attached to the pelvis, which are attached to your legs, which are attached to our feet.
That is all you really need to know about anatomy to understand Moe’s genius and if you have questions about the golf swing or club design, this understanding will help you realize how Moe intuitively learned a golf swing that used his anatomy most efficiently. This understanding will also help you understand that improperly fit equipment can be destructive and harmful to your ability to Swing Like Moe.
The term swing plane is often used and often confused when discussing the golf swing, yet swing plane is not a mystery. Using some simple logic, you can understand that swing plane is directly related to club design, which makes sense. In other words, the way the club relates to the body is swing plane. This relationship is in the form of the club length and lie angle. Knowing that simple understanding leads to what might be the most important question that you can ask:
How does the club design relate to Moe Norman’s single plane golf swing and the single plane?
We continually discuss that Moe’s genius was how he held the club in such a way at address that he aligned the club shaft with his trail arm forming a single plane. You can see a detailed picture of swing plane HERE. This single plane is significant for one main reason; this is where Moe impacted the golf ball. This impact position is where the club design meets anatomy. If you don’t think you need properly fitted clubs, think again.
Where club design meets anatomy suggests that your swing plane is pre-determined. This is true. You have a correct swing plane based on your anatomical structure. Use a highlighter on this sentence; based on your anatomy, properly fit equipment with correct hold (grip) and posture can enhance and will produce your single plane golf swing.
The contrary is also true.
With improperly fit equipment and an improper hold, you will never achieve the simple Moe Norman Single Plane Golf Swing.
So what does it mean to have your golf club match your anatomy?
(As a side note, if you look at our Seven Principle of Golf Improvement Series on your bookshelf (aligning the spine of the DVD covers), you can see Leonardo DiVinci’s Vitruvian Man appear; my way of representing that the game of golf is a blend of the physical and mental.)
The first part of the answer to this question is to look at Moe’s address position to understand the correct anatomical relationships. The one in particular is Moe’s alignment of the club with the spine and shoulders. We are going to do that but take note that with Moe being the model, I take nothing that he did for granted. I learned that lesson the hard way. So take my word for it, if Moe does it, then it is correct.
The Trail Shoulder Plane and Spine Alignment
When you look at the clubshaft and spine alignment of Moe’s address position you must take into consideration not only the fact that the trail arm aligns with the club shaft but that this alignment has a relationship to the spine. This relationship is significant. Moe even referred to this relationship when he said “I swing the club underneath me like a pendulum”. Click HERE for a detailed picture.
It only makes sense, based on my earlier anatomy lesson; correct arm movement will result in correct club movement. To achieve Moe’s feeling and this correct club movement, you absolutely must have correct spine and clubshaft alignment for one main reason; the trail shoulder must be moving parallel to the plane of the clubshaft. If you stand too tall, you can not achieve the proper movement of the trail arm, trail shoulder and clubshaft.
Looking at Moe’s relationship, you see that his spine was tilted between 40 and 50 degrees from standing. This spine tilt forward achieved the correct right shoulder plane and in doing so, also achieved the correct club length.
In other words, Moe did not ever change this relationship of club shaft to spine relationship. If the club was too long or too upright for Moe, he moved his hands down or “choked down” on the golf club to maintain the correct club shaft/spine relationship.
This is an important lesson for all of us. We need not fit the club, the club must fit us. Clubs that are too long and upright do not promote Moe Norman’s golf swing.
Club Fitting, The Single Plane and a Golf Lesson
With an understanding of anatomy and the single plane, it is relatively simple to fit golf equipment to someone wanting to Swing like Moe. A few measurements tell us your hand size, arm length, height and swing speed. With these calculations we can determine how a golf club can fit your anatomy for your Moe Norman Single Plane Golf Swing.
The goal is to fit a golf club to impact where your spine, right shoulder arm and club shaft are correctly positioned. We call this impact.
Impact alignment is the purpose of great golf instruction. The goal of any instruction is to help you achieve correctly aligned impact. Ultimately this is impossible with improperly fit equipment. In fact, during schools we fit clubs with our students to help them achieve correct Moe Norman Single plane impact alignment.
You can see our online fitting information- Free Club Fitting.
To summarize – your clubs need to fit you. Improper length and lie angles will greatly interfere with your single axis swing as you will not be able to set up properly. In addition, grips that are too big will inhibit release and proper hold on the club – greatly limiting distance (you can see more conversation about this topic on the Moe Norman Forum.
In conclusion, you may have heard us say in the past that we spend the majority of our time teaching the grip (hold) and the setup positions of Moe Norman’s swing. As I hope you will conclude from this article, it is the grip, setup, and having correctly fit clubs that will help you achieve the bio-mechanical advantage of Moe Norman’s swing. I hope you can also see the relationship of how Principle #1 of the 7 Principles teaching philosophy, is closely related to Principle #4. You must have the correct grip and setup positions to achieve the ideal swing, just as you must have properly fit equipment in order achieve the correct grip and setup positions.
Please let us know if you have additional questions /comments – Please feel free to call or email anytime, Good Luck – Remember – “Always Practice with a Purpose”