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Longest Shot, The Hardcover – 9 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (9 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312661843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312661847
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,093,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


**A Top 100 book and Top 25 Nonfiction book** **Named one of "Booklist"'s Top 10 Sports Books of 2012** **Named one of the Best Books of 2012, According to Business Leaders by BloombergBusinessweek**"Fifty-seven years after the fact (and in time for this year's Open at Olympic), two books about one of golf's most improbable upsets have surfaced simultaneously. Like the clash between Hogan and Fleck, the works pit an established, celebrated veteran against a relative upstart. And as in 1955, the upstart wins. But, unlike in 1955, it's not close. "The Longest Shot" is the first book from Neil Sagebiel, the founder and editor of Armchair Golf Blog, and he makes a strong bid to create shelf space for himself alongside 21st-century golf literati like John Feinstein, Mark Frost and Don Van Natta Jr. Sagebiel takes his time, working leisurely as golf demands, but does a thorough job. And his narrative pace during the last hour of that final round, as he bounces back and forth between Hogan in the locker room and Fleck on the course, may have a rhythm more suited to a tennis rally, but here it aces."--"The New York Times Sunday Book Review ""A compelling read...Golf historians can thank Sagebiel." --"PGA Magazine ""Long before a small circle of American kids dismantled the Soviets' Big Red Machine at Lake Placid, Jack Fleck's defeat of the mighty Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open was as stunning and stirring an upset as sports had ever seen. In "The Longest Shot," Neil Sagebiel not only expertly reconstructs the million-to-one tale of the Iowa muni pro who denied Hogan his chance to become the only man to win the Open five times, he honors the grand tradition of profound and poetic literature in golf." --Ian O'Connor, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry """The Longest Shot" is the remarkable story of how Jack Fleck, the improbably named municipal course pro from Iowa, defeated the great Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open. Moment by moment, Neil Sagebiel lyrically describes the drama of the David-and-Goliath clash at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Sagebiel persuades a new generation of readers that Fleck's triumph was not only the most unlikely result at a U.S. Open, but one of the greatest upsets in American sports history. "The Longest Shot" is destined to become a classic of golf literature." --Don Van Natta Jr., "New York Times" bestselling author of "First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, and Cheaters from Taft to Bush" and "Wonder Girl: The Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias ""Iowa golfer topples big-time golf legend. Zach Johnson over Tiger Woods at the 2007 Masters? Sure, that was a huge upset. But how does it compare to another Iowa golfer taking down an icon? Jack Fleck had never won on tour, was playing a few hours behind the immortal Ben Hogan--who had already accepted congratulations for winning the 1955 U.S. Open--and had to birdie the 18th hole just to tie the four-time Open champion. Then it was on to an 18-hole playoff the next day in which the unknown Iowa muni pro knocked off his idol by three strokes. In "The Longest Shot," Neil Sagebiel details how this remarkable outcome unfolded." --Bob Harig, senior golf writer, "Lost in the pages of golf history is a remarkable story of an unknown municipal golf professional who won the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Author Neil Sagebiel's account of the courage and determination of Jack Fleck, who late on a Saturday afternoon came out of the pack to tie the legendary Ben Hogan, and then go onto defeat him in an 18-hole playoff, is dramatically recounted in The Longest Shot. It is a Cinderella story of a young professional from Iowa who against all odds wins the U.S. Open. It is also the bittersweet account of Ben Hogan's last hurrah." --John Coyne, author of "The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan" "The Longest Shot is more than the story of the greatest upset in U.S. Open history. It's a book for anyone who's ever risked everything to follow a dream. Golfers owe Sagebiel a thank you for lending a voice to this oft-forgotten tale." --Bob Smiley, author of "Follow the Roar: Tailing Tiger for All 604 Holes of His Most Spectacular Season ""Upsets are the lifeblood of sports, and golf has provided its share--but arguably none so startling as unheralded Jack Fleck's triumph over the legendary Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. In "Dewey Beats Truman" fashion, NBC proclaimed Hogan the winner of his unprecedented fifth U.S. Open while there was still one man on the course, the unknown Iowan Fleck, who had a chance to tie. He did exactly that, with a birdie on the eighteenth hole, and then went on to beat Hogan by three strokes in the next day's playoff. Sagebiel wrings every ounce of drama and poignancy out of this remarkable sporting event, backtracking to tell the story of the lanky, teetotaling, socially insecure Fleck's improbable rise to success and judiciously reprising Hogan's life and career, including the nearfatal car accident and the inspirational comeback that followed it. And, of course, just like in a movie, Fleck idolized Hogan and was the first professional, other than Hogan himself, to use Hogan-designed clubs. But it's the on-course drama that golf fans will relish, Fleck, "whose long, fluid golf swing wrapped around his lean body like a loose belt," besting the man whose steely determination to win that fifth Open made him seem unbeatable. As fellow player Bob Rosburg observed about the outcome, "It defied everything anybody knew about golf." Great storytelling and great golf history." --"Booklist ""Neil Sagebiel of Floyd County captures the drama and the ambiance of professional golf in the mid-1950s in a book that will delight golfers but also enhance any reader's understanding of American society in post-World War II America. The story of Iowa club pro Jack Fleck's rise from obscurity to win the U.S. Open is the essence of the American Dream....Sagebiel brings to life the drama of the tournament and the long road to arrive there. He also re-creates a time when golf was just a sport, and the players enjoyed the game without the money and the fame that accompany modern-day athletes. Reading this book is like reading the golf coverage from a major newspaper in the 1950s when a keen ability to describe the players and their venue was the key to having readers."--"Roanoke Times ""The author's imaginative a fascinating insight into Hogan's character, avoiding death by inches in a 1951 car crash to become one of the game's great icons."

About the Author

NEIL SAGEBIEL is the founder and editor of "Armchair Golf Blog," one of the top golf blogs on the Internet. A former copywriter for a Seattle advertising agency and major newspaper, he is a freelance writer in Floyd, Virginia.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Markham on 19 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
We've all had dreams of sporting glory... going toe-to-toe down the finishing stretch against Tiger Woods at the Open Championship or the Masters... and beating him with a moment of pure brilliance on the final green. Yes, the underdog, the complete unknown, the mission impossible beats the world's greatest golfer. Come on, admit it - you've fantasised about it. We all have. If you don't have the ability then imagination is the next best thing.

Back in 1955, that underdog, that complete unknown became the biggest story in golf and delivered one of the greatest upsets in the game. It was the US Open and it pitched the mighty Ben Hogan against an Iowan by the name of Jack Fleck.

The Longest Shot is the story of these two men's paths to the Open and their ensuing battle (over an 18 hole play-off). Ben Hogan was looking to finish his remarkable career in style while Jack Fleck was looking to make a pro career a reality.

The author, Neil Sagebiel (of the Armchair Golf Blog), met Jack Fleck - now in his 90s - and decided to write the story of golf's greatest underdog. The story is one of grit and determination, on the part of both men, and anyone who swings a club will empathise with the mindset of Fleck as he tries to make a name for himself. Sagebiel gets under Fleck's skin so that you can understand the man's work ethic as well as his hopes and dreams. That is what is at the heart of this book... the battle at Olympic in San Francisco was the mere culmination of the man's drive for success.

A vast quantity of research went into this book and that is where my only frustration lies - frustration at myself I must add - I simply can't keep up with the names and dates of all the characters involved.
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By S. FENNY on 9 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read and perfectly captures the excitement of the tournament and the highs and lows experienced by Fleck and Hogan respectively. Having read many golf history books by well known and respected authors such as Curt Sampson, Mark Frost and John Feinstein I would say that this stands up there with the best of them. Well researched and well written, it takes you right into the thick of the action. It's an incredible underdog story which if you didn't know it was true seems almost too far fetched to believe. I can imagine people at the time saying " you just couldn't write it!", well Neil Sagebiel has, and has done it very well indeed.
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By Colm Burke on 30 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
An excellent read..easy on a tired brian in the evening but packed with interest. The book allows you an insight into the rank outsider Jack Fleck's mind as he wins the 1955 US Open. A lot has been written about the great Ben Hogan (whom Fleck defeated in an 18 hole play-off) but very little to date about Jack Fleck. This book puts that right with a bang. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Notable Contribution to the Annals of Golf History 26 July 2012
By Gary K. McCormick - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought a copy of "The Longest Shot" just prior to the 2012 U.S. Open, when the event would return to the site of the events recounted in the book - the Olympic Club, in San Francisco, CA. I attended the 2012 Open, working as a USGA volunteer, and I watched two days of practice rounds and all four days of the tournament. I waited until after the Open to start reading the book, and though the author does a great job of bringing the story to life for readers who have never been to the venue, my familiarity with the course after having spent the week of the Open there added to my enjoyment of the story.

One thing that I found special about Mr Sagebiel's telling of the story is the sense of anticipation I got as the events of that long-ago week unfolded in the pages of the book - as I read along, especially when reading about the final regulation round and the playoff round, I found that I couldn't wait to see what happened next, even though I knew how the tournament ended! I got that same sense of anticipation when watching the Tom Hanks movie "Apollo 13" -- even though I had watched those events unfold on TV at the time, the movie was so well done that I could feel the tension and the drama of the story playing out as if I had no knowledge of the ending.

I also like the way that Mr Sagebiel let the reader know what Jack Fleck was all about, what kind of a man he was at the time. Over the years this story has been told more from the point of view of this fluky thing happening to Ben Hogan; Mr Sagebiel tells the story from Jack's side, and bring out a fuller portrait of him than "unknown muni course pro". I especially liked the description of the aftermath of the Open, and the effect that the win had on Jack's life. I see parallels in the aftermath of Bubba Watson's Masters win. (Jack Fleck was at the 2012 Open, and I saw him there, though I did not meet him. He is still quite a character - vital and active at 90 years of age. It was a real treat to see him return to the site of his great victory.)

Bottom line - thoroughly researched and exceedingly well-written, "The Longest Shot" is a valuable contribution to the literature of golf history, and belongs on the bookshelf of every golfer who is interested in the history of the game. Mr Sagebiel deserves the thanks of golf fans for bringing this great story of a significant event in the history of golf more fully to light.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sure Shot of a Golf Read 6 July 2012
By rodboomboom - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sagebiel does the golfing community, especially its aficanados who enjoy reading about its history, a great service with this fine chronicle of one of golf's greatest upsets, Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan.

The Open upset in 1955 at Olympic Club was brought to all of our minds with the recent Open happening there and the TV interview with Fleck himself. This spurred my purchase of this volume and read it with pleasure and interest as it is very well written. It tracks the two different paths for the '55 playoff, one a obscure pro from Iowa and the other the renowed Hawk who was nearing the end of a marvelous career.

This is developed over the years and then becomes more detailed as the Open in San Francisco and what leads up to it. Amazing and fascinating to this Christian golfer is the faith of this man and that he took a portable phonograph (remember those) and played Mario Lanza singing "I'll Walk with God," and his hearing a voice several times saying to him "Jack, you are going to win the Open." This coupled with his saying to Hogan before the playoff, "You'll know what I mean," without his even knowing why he said it.

The connection between Hogan and Fleck with boy playing Hogan clubs is amazing. Finally, the Cherry Creek Open transceting the career of Fleck, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus. Truly this is a book worth reading and owning.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The is In The Leather. Masterful storytelling 17 Jun. 2012
By Roland Lazenby - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a great read about a fascinating piece of U.S. Open history. Just wanted to sample a bit, got started and couldn't stop until I was finished. From the start, you get the sense that the author has complete control of the material and that never falters throughout. Ben Hogan is a truly heroic figure, and you couldn't make up Jack Fleck. Sagebiel immerses you in 1955, and that in itself is worth the journey. Yet there's so much more, the fun with the bittersweet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sagebiel eagles with first book 19 Jun. 2012
By Pacific NW Reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recently finished Neil Sagebiel's first book, The Longest Shot. This is a well written tale about the 1955 U.S. Open and more importantly, about the rise of an unknown golfer at the time named Jack Fleck. Mr. Sagebiel also provided a great look into the life of the professional golf tour during the 1950's and how it differs from today's media driven events. I recommend this book to those who love golf and those who love a good underdog story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Incredible Book! 26 Nov. 2012
By Jon P. Scott - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not many books hold my attention like this one did. Chill bumps as the story of Jack Fleck unfolds. Get this book!
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