Monday, March 19

When a U.S. Open Champion Calls, I Answer

I have to admit that I often don't answer my phone at the office. I'm usually working on a project and don't want to be disturbed. So I don't pick up -- unless it's my wife, of course.

But a week or so ago I made an exception when I heard this on my office speaker phone:

“Hello. This is Jack Fleck.”

An unheralded pro from Iowa, Jack Fleck pulled off what is widely regarded as the greatest upset in golf history when he defeated Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff at the Olympic Club to win the 1955 U.S. Open. Hogan was denied a record fifth U.S. Open title and never won another major.

Jack Fleck and I were introduced by a mutual golf contact. (Thanks, George.) Jack wants to talk and I'm listening.

Mr. Fleck is like a great uncle who has amazing golf stories, the kind that might cause you to roll your eyes. Only they're true.

Imagine talking to the ultimate underdog who went head-to-head with the mighty Ben Hogan on golf's biggest stage -- and won. The circumstances and subplots of his U.S. Open victory could not be hatched in Hollywood. (I won't go into them now.)

Jack Fleck is 85. He still plays golf. (He will be playing in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf Tournament in Savannah next month.) He volunteers and raises money for the First Tee Program in Fort Smith, Ark. And he speaks affectionately of the game to which he has devoted 68 years as a professional.

Jack tells me he still has a lot to do. I believe him. I'll share more later.

The Armchair Golfer

2 comments :

Artful Golfer said...

what a great opportunity... looking forward to hearing more about it!

The Armchair Golfer said...

Thanks, Artful Golfer. Jack jokes to me that people sometimes think he is dead. Far from it. And his memories of the '55 U.S. Open are still vivid. More to come.