The Upset

The Upset

Jack Fleck's Incredible Victory Over Ben Hogan at the U.S. Open

By Al Barkow

Chicago Review Press, Hardcover, 9781613740750, 240pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2012

Jack Fleck had the slimmest of resumes as a professional tournament golfer. He had never come close to winning on the PGA Tour, and was in the mere qualifier category when it came time for the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco. A qualifier, in the parlance, is not even a contender; he just fills out the field. Yet Fleck got himself into a playoff with Ben Hogan, one of the greatest players in golf history, for the game's most prestigious title. And when Fleck defeated Hogan, it was not just surprising, it was incredible. How could a nondescript journeyman pro defeat a golfer who was revered as the ultimate champion golfer? Especially after Hogan had won it four times already? This book presents a thrilling play-by-play, shot-by-shot recounting that brings back to life the look and feel of the entire three days of regular play and, most tellingly, the fourth-day playoff itself. Relying on first-hand sources, "The Upset "reveals the players mental processes as they strategized their game and handled their emotions. And it finally offers a convincing explanation for Fleck's mind-boggling victory, which was considered at the time and remains to this day one of the most unexpected outcomes in all sports history.

About the Author
Al Barkow has been the editor-in-chief of "Golf" and "Golf Illustrated" magazines, chief writer on the original "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf" television series, and writer of countless articles on the game for such publications as "Sports Illustrated", "Golf Digest", "The New York Times", "Golf Monthly" (UK), "Golf World", and "Travel & Leisure". He has co-authored numerous golf instructional books with professionals that include Ken Venturi, Billy Casper, and Dave Stockton. He has written previous histories of golf, including "Golf's Golden Grind: the History of the Tour and Gettin' to the Dance Floor: an Oral History of American Golf", which in 1986 won the first annual United States Golf Association International Golf Book of the Year award. Barkow also appeared for some ten years as a television commentator for "Inside the PGA Tour" and the Senior PGA Tour programs seen on ESPN. A native of Chicago, he was a member of the Western Illinois University golf team that won the NAIA national championship in 1959 and also competed in the US Amateur Championship in 1971 as well as other national and regional golf competitions. He currently lives in Clifton, New Jersey.

Praise For The Upset

“Al Barkow knows more about golf than any man alive.” —Rick Reilly, author of Who’s Your Caddy? and The Life of Reilly

“From Getting to the Dance Floor in ’86 to this piece of great non-fiction writing and reporting, Barkow has emerged as the pre-eminent golf historian of the past quarter century.” —Tim Rosaforte, GolfWorld and Golf Channel

“Fleck beat Hogan. Fleck beat Hogan? Huh? In the 1955 U.S. Open, no less. That's fact. It's golf history. But the story behind that win! It's never been told in the way Al Barkow tells it [. . .] It's some tale.”  Lorne Rubinstein, author of A Disorderly Compendium of Golf and A Season in Dornoch

“Al Barkow, golf’s leading historian and storyteller, unfolds the improbable Ben Hogan–Jack Fleck tale, and the results are as wondrous as the golf itself. Al knows exactly what we really want to know and he gives it to us with rich detail and a light, sure touch. Nobody evokes time and place in golf like Al Barkow.” —Peter Kessler, host of Making the Turn on the PGA Tour Network, Sirius XM

 “If Al Barkow hit the golf ball as straight as he writes about the game he’d be playing the Tour.” —Lee Trevino

“Golf is rarely more delicious than when a hero and an underdog square off. In his thorough and engaging account of the 1955 U.S. Open, Al Barkow skillfully dissects the showdown between Ben Hogan and Jack Fleck, delving deeply not only into the play but the personalities of the two men, which were as different as their stations in the sport when they arrived at Olympic that fateful week.” —Bill Fields, GolfWorld