I’m at 36,000 feet, on my way home from a golf business trip. I’m currently flying over Kansas or perhaps Nebraska. I had to start this post now, having just finished reading The Longest Shot – Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open, a book by my fellow golf blogger and friend Neil Sagebiel. My apologies to Neil for taking as long as I have to finish the book, but I’m not the fastest at reading books. And I even moved this one up to #1 in my book queue.
I must comment at how amazed and proud I am of what Neil has accomplished in this book. The depth of research Neil must have gone through to produce such a fantastic accounting of not only the 1955 U.S. Open, but the backgrounds of Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan and the supporting cast of this story, must have been massive.
The research was only part of it. The way Neil puts it all together into such a great flow and timeline is brilliant, especially considering much of the play by play had to be assembled so intelligently. You see, back then tournament player positions did not have the same structure they do today, with the leaders being put in the final groups. Players and their positions were all over the proverbial course map in Saturday 36 hole finals. There was no play on Sunday with the leaders positioned in the final group.
I knew a little about Ben Hogan, his golf career, the auto accident and the Ben Hogan golf company. Reading this book just for that information alone is worth the price of admission if you are into golf history.
Sagebiel’s shot-by-shot coverage of the tournament and especially the 18 hole playoff had me glued to the book, despite my already knowing the outcome. I felt like I was experiencing the tournament from the perspective of the players, feeling the emotional swings and pressure in what will likely forever be known as the toughest test in major championship history.
There are many great side stories in the book as well, from the beginnings of Arnold Palmer’s and Jack Nicklaus’s careers to what members of the press had to go through to cover golf in the typewriter era.
Neil Sagebiel obviously poured his soul into researching and writing this fantastic book. I strongly recommend you pick up a copy and give it a read.
Very well done Neil. Bravo.
I know Neil is up for an interview about the book and I do have many questions I’m dying to ask. Stay tuned.