By Matthew Selman
Michael Block, a professional golfer born just outside of St. Louis erupted onto the golf scene last week during the PGA Championship.
Block, a 46 year old golfer, is the head pro at Arroyo Trabuco Country Club, and coaches golfers for $150 an hour. He is one of 28,000 PGA Professional Coaches in the United States. In order to become a PGA Professional, you need to pass a three year course, teaching the best golfers how to become a professional coach.
The PGA Championship has always been known as one of the hardest tests of golf. Many professional golfers have gone on record saying even a scratch golfer would have a difficult time breaking 80 in these conditions. The rough is thick, the greens are fast, and the course is long. It’s a test of every single part of a golfer’s game, including mentally. Shooting even par in these conditions will keep you in contention for the weekend.
Michael Block spent the majority of his career teaching as a PGA professional and a head pro at Arroyo Trabuco. Every year though, the PGA Championship selects a limited number of PGA Professional Coaches to participate in the major championship. Block was selected as one of these pros.
In the first round of the 2023 PGA Championship, Block played a strong opening round of even par 70. This was nothing too out of the ordinary, anyone in that field can put up a solid round, that is why there are four rounds to determine the best player in the field. In the second round, the course started to show who was faking it, and who was really playing well. Block shot another round of even par, which kept him in the top 20. People started to catch on and see that the “average” guy on the course is beating more than half of the professionals who spend their entire career trying to win these types of tournaments. The gallery began to follow him, and he became a crowd favorite. Going into the weekend, Block was in a great spot to jump up the leaderboard and get into a top 10 finish. Although he didn’t have a low round, he shot another round of even par, which set him above the majority of the field.
Going into Sunday, the entire gallery knew who they were going to be watching. Block had media surrounding him, and questions were constantly being asked to him. “It feels like a dream,” he said, “Feels like I am on cloud 9”. It was clear that Block was already starstruck at his popularity, and it seemed like his week could not get any better. But on the 15th hole on Sunday at a Major Championship, Block stepped up to his ball, and did the unthinkable. He slam dunked a hole in one to set him back to even par for the tournament. The crowd went absolutely insane, and it was the icing on the cake to a beautiful underdog story. He finished the tournament +1, inside of the top 15. This automatically gave him an invite to next year’s PGA Championship, and his popularity went off the charts. He was getting more recognition than this year’s winner, Brooks Koepka. He was immediately invited to this week’s tournament, The Charles Schwab Invitational. Since last Sunday, Block has been on several podcasts, news shows, radios, and he has become the current face of TaylorMade Headquarters, partnered with the quote, “Why Not?”.
Fans are hoping this is just the start for “Blockie” and they hope he will put up a good performance in this week’s tournament. Whether his stardom continues to rise or not, it is clear that magic happened at the 2023 PGA Championship and it was something fans have been waiting for. There was a true underdog story as well as a competitive Sunday. It will be hard to top this year’s PGA Championship.