I have been haunted by a man called Moe Norman for a while. He was a nobody to those who don't know much about the game called golf. He had a talent for hitting golf balls with unerring acuracy, especially off the tops of Coke bottles. Described by one person as a "high functioning autistic", Moe would show up at Canadian golf tournaments and win. This pissed everyone off. The bourgeousie of golf laughed at his costume and his hitting style, but Moe pressed on, sleeping in his car, and winning. Jack Nicklaus sought him out among many others whom had heard of him. He talked funny; a kind of staccato stutter of half-finished sentences. But anyone touched by Moe knew they had witnessed something special.
He played a round of golf with Sam Snead once and both of them had long approach shots to the green. Sam laid up. Then Moe took out what Sam thought was too much club and advised his friend not to try for it. Moe said, "I'm not trying to clear the water... I want to bounce the ball off that walkover bridge." He hauled back, struck the ball, and it bounced off the bridge and came to rest in the fairway, just in front of the green. Wayne Gretzky played a round with him once and marvelled that the man used just one tee through all eighteen holes. Without ego, Moe commented he once went a whole season with one tee.
Moe joined the PGA Tour for a while and never once won a tournament. The laughter at his dress ... and address, was a constant source of open amusement from the other players and the gallery. But Moe had feelings and packed it in when it got to be too much.
Moe went on to win seven Canadian championships and when he finished pro golf he retired to a driving range somewhere in the United States and gave folks tips and a bit of a show. He lived in a small trailer at the range. Year after year Moe was nominated for the Canadian Pro Golf Hall of Fame, but never made the grade.
I was watching the golf channel one day and Titleist, the Company was announcing some new products. As almost an adjunct, the corporate fellow also mentioned that the Board of Directors of the company had passed a unanimous decision to give Moe Norman $5,ooo (US) a month until his demise, in recognition for his contribution to golf. Moe Norman died at 75. He was eventually admitted to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, but I will be always grateful to the people at Titleist, for their class and for representing the best of what America stands for.
Out of solidarity I should have used their balls. But frankly, my game is so bad, and their balls are so precious that I would have had to give up everything... live in a trailer... and work gathering struck balls in one of those tractor contraptions people aim at.