When I was a stick at Audubon for one brief season in the early 1990s, Richie Weber and I got it in our heads that we were going to travel to Ontario to seek out the legendary, perhaps mythical Moe Norman. We never did and I’m still pissed about it. I had a chance to take a course with Maya Angelou at Wake Forest and didn’t, so my ability to play hunches should always be in great doubt by anyone with common sense or prescience.
Lorne Rubenstein, recently-retired golf writer for Toronto Globe and Mail and author of a number of solid golf books, has written a tome on Moe Norman, the golfing talent from Kitchener, Ontario. Lorne met Moe in the early 1960s, at a driving range. He was friends with the great one until the latter passed, in 2004. That’s nearly ten years ago and a 40-year friendship.
I’ll be honest from the get-go and let you know that this is a personal book. Rubenstein may have tried (I suspect not) to keep his emotions in check and not take up a sword in Moe’s defense, but that’s what he does. Moe Norman twice played in the Masters. Moe won the Canadian Amateur and challenged for the Canadian Open. Moe was a late inductee into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Moe Norman was unique, singular, solitary and matchless, yet also marginalized, disconnected, disengaged and sequestered. How and why (the former) and from whom or what (the latter) is the kernel of Rubenstein’s Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius. Knowing Norman as Rubenstein did, the words and tone he chose to tell the tale are understandable.
I was a Moe Norman fan before I read this book. Rubenstein, I sense, is frustrated that he doesn’t have a diagnosis (and never will) for what Moe’s true situation was. I suspect that Rubenstein would be even more frustrated if he had such insight, as he would then be angry that he didn’t have it back in the 1960s, 70s or 80s, when he might have been able to guide Moe with proper coping strategies.
I hope that Lorne Rubenstein knows that Moe is smiling in gratitude at him from his particular, singular, unique, diet coke-filled heaven, where he sits in a Cadillac.