I shall resist the call of Moe no longer

moeswing 2


My first glimpse of the light was about 20 years ago. For more than two decades, it has pulled at me, but I have resisted, fought it off, turned away.

No more. I am giving of myself, fully, completely. 

In 2014, I have moved to Moe, sided with the Single-Plane, gone straight.

My golf swing was far from dead—actually, last year was pretty swell—but I have walked to the light of the late Moe Norman, creator of the incredibly unique golf swing that earned him renown as the greatest ball-striker in the history of the game.

However, similar to what might happen when an Anglican turns Roman Catholic, when I have mentioned my conversion to golf pro friends, it has been met with a cocked eyebrow, a chortle and an insincere “good luck.”

It’s a tale that goes back generations. Well, one. In researching my book The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story, which came out in 1995, I watched Moe give at least a dozen clinics and played golf with him three times.

I was truly fortunate to have a front-row seat for the fellow considered by folks such as Lee Trevino and Ken Venturi as the best ever at hitting a ball exactly where he wanted it to go. Every time.

I studied his swing and spoke to some of the world’s top golf instructors of the time—including David Leadbetter, Dr. Jim Suttie, and Chuck Cook—all of whom raved about the efficiency of Moe’s swing. Cook, who coaches reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner, told me: “Moe’s swing will become the swing of the future.”

As an avid player who ranged around 7-8 index, I kind of gave it a whirl, mainly focusing on keeping my feet on the ground well past impact.  But I didn’t try his straight-arms-and-legs address. I don’t think I wanted to look weird.

As his biographer, I was often asked if I swung like Moe. My reply was typically pedantic, along the lines that I was an OK player and at my age, I didn’t want to submit to a complete rebuild. Oh brother. As if I didn’t want to hurt my chances in the upcoming majors.

About six years ago, Todd Graves showed me the address. His Graves Golf Academy teaches the Single-Plane Swing (SPS) method which he based on Moe’s swing. About six weeks into the season, I discarded it, rationalizing that without access to Todd—he lives in Oklahoma—I couldn’t get proper feedback. I wasn’t committed.

Since writing Moe’s bio, I have written hundreds of instruction articles with many top Canadian golf professionals, including Ben Kern, Tom Jackson and Sean Foley. I took lots of lessons from them as well. I edited a book on Ben Hogan’s Missing Piece

Despite all the lessons, knowledge, and the very occasional foray into mid 70s, I’ve largely judged myself to be a chronic under-achiever. I recall Ben saying, “You should be better than an 8.” Ouch.

All the while, I developed a friendship and business relationship with Todd Graves, who became a partner in The Feeling of Greatness. I did some small projects for him, and we wrote a proposal for a Moe Norman instruction book that a major publisher seriously considered.

All the while, Moe’s swing beckoned, and I resisted.

But praise the eccentric genius of golf, the magnificent ragamuffin, the wearer of many watches, I have finally moved to the light.

Next blog: With apologies to the Borg, Resistance to Moe is Futile.

Picture credit: Grave Golf Academy



About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!


  1. Welcome to the family, Tim ! 🙂

  2. John Cochran says

    In my youth my hero was Doug Sanders. I loved his unorthodox short back swing and emulated it for years. I had as much success with it as my game allowed, but the one thing that if afforded for sure was control. I quit playing the game for many years, but when I went back to hitting some balls again for some inexplicable reason I went to a more conventional long back swing. The results were about as good as one might expect from someone who hadn’t played in years. Then I read about Moe Howard and became very interested in both the character and his unusual single plane swing. It seemed to make sense and when I tried it I had tremendous success at first. Then it seemed to leave me and I suspected bits of the old swing patterns were creeping into my play. When we we made our annual trip to visit friends on the California central course I played several games with some good friends and thoroughly embarrassed myself with that “conventional” swing. I wondered why I ever told anyone I was a golfer. Then by chance I came across some old videos of Doug Sanders’ short swing and I noticed how many characteristics Sanders shared with Moe Norman. He had a single-plane swing, albeit short. Now I’m practicing Moe’s swing with a short back swing and having great results. At my age I know I’ll never deviate from this short back swing -single plane approach to golf..

    • Sorry for the late reply. Great to hear that you’re having some success with Moe’s swing. I always found it ironic that a shorter swing gave me power and control. I think it was just because I was hitting the ball solidly. Moe’s swing is especially good for older players. I’m 57 and I’m moving it out there nicely with a shorter swing.

  3. John L Black says

    Just before Xmas at Glendoveer GC in Portland, Or, i played golf with my son an brother in law , who have needled me constantly about my single plane set up. I hit every fw that day on the front 9, and i beat both of them. Glad to hear you’re going to the single plane feeling of greatness. And as soon as i retire, i’m signing up for a school thst Todd and Tim put on.

  4. Robert Young says

    Does anyone really understand Moe’s swing?

    • Sorry for the late reply. A number of professionals know it well, including Jim Suttie and certainly Todd Graves. Todd has developed a business teaching the Single Plane Swing.