In 1997 I was at the PGA West Palmer Course in the desert and was asked if I would like to caddy for a 70-something-year-old by the name of Jack Fleck. I said yes and quickly learned that Mr. Fleck was a U.S Open champion and had beat the legendary Ben Hogan in a playoff at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. The time with Mr. Fleck became a piece of my fabric and gave me a feeling that I was connected to the golf gods of yesteryear. I still have my caddy bib with “Fleck” on the backside in the family basement on Cape Cod.Richard’s encounter with Jack Fleck inspired this sonnet.
Jack Fleck Sonnet
1955 U.S Open – The Olympic Club
By Richard C. Welch Jr.
Copyright © Richard C. Welch Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
A golfer with humble Iowa beginnings,
Hard working Fleck was not known for his winnings.
An unassuming, well-dressed gentleman,
Modeled his game after the mythical Ben Hogan.
In ’55, the U.S. Open had gone West,
San Francisco’s Olympic Club, a true test.
“Rebel without a Cause” debuted that year,
Like James Dean, Jack Fleck acted without fear.
NBC signed off early before Sunday’s end,
Granting Ben Hogan his fifth U.S Open.
Fleck’s pressure packed putt on the 18th hole,
Forced the two scally capped golfers to tomorrow.
In Brookline, Ouimet shocked Vardon to make history,
Now Fleck startled Hogan in most dramatic victory!