Inside Michael Block’s first day at Colonial
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America’s favorite club pro proceeds to Charles Schwab Challenge; new fans include Michael Jordan
Written by Kevin Robbins @kdanielrobbins
FORT WORTH, Texas — It was close to noon when Michael Block trudged the hill to the eighth green at Colonial, one of the most secluded spots on the property.
No one cheered. No one chanted his name. No one requested an interview, a picture, a fist bump or a swing tip. That’s because no one was even present, except for the middle-aged man with a bag from the merchandise tent who said to Block: “Looking forward to Sunday.”
For that he got a smile.
Taking his first swings since his captivating week at the PGA Championship, Block played nine holes Tuesday with Beau Hossler, then nine more with Peter Malnati. Block had never even seen Colonial Country Club, the historic site of the Charles Schwab Challenge, into which the 46-year-old club professional from Southern California earned the last sponsor exemption after becoming, in one week’s time, a modern golf influencer with 194,000 followers in Instagram.
PGA Professional Michael Block reflects on PGA Championship experience
His first visit to Colonial felt like a casual round at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, where Block administers lessons and routinely shoots 65 or better with friends. He told stories about Oak Hill. He quoted a line from the movie “Tin Cup.” He smirked when Malnati asked him what time on Monday he’d originally scheduled his flight home from Rochester, New York.
“Saturday,” Block corrected. “Ten o’clock in the morning.”
That changed. A lot of things did. Block now has an agent. He has another exemption upcoming, at the RBC Canadian Open in June. He has 10,000 texts to answer (and twice as many DMs). He has significant financial offers to consider for the 7-iron he swung to make an ace on No. 15 Sunday at the PGA.
Michael Block on offers to sell 7-iron after PGA Championship ace
More urgently: His 26th start Thursday on the PGA TOUR at one of the most historic — think Ben Hogan and Scottish royal tartan plaid — tournaments in the country.
“I’ve said it a lot, but it’s just a dream,” Block said. “I’m just cruising.”
He and his caddie arrived early Monday evening to typical Dallas-Fort Worth rush-hour traffic, preventing them from even a cursory tour of Colonial. Block’s wife did an admirable job of packing for her husband, but the suitcase included no shorts. Block wore black pants Tuesday in the Texas heat, which he called a “horrible choice.” He was depleted by the time he conducted five media interviews after his round, in person and online.
Michael Block on what the future holds after performance at PGA Championship
He had walked the entire 18 holes with Geoff Cram, the director of golf at Arroyo Trabuco. Cram also spent the week in Rochester, watching his friend since 2004 manage both a difficult golf course and his sudden fame.
“It’s been an avalanche,” Cram said of the attention. “There are times when he looks at me and just says, ‘Is this real?’ He just absorbs it.”
Another longtime friend and fellow competitor in Orange County, Hossler left Colonial at the turn. But it was Block’s only chance to see the rest of the course. Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson watched him hit his tee shot — perfect, just left of the right edge of the fairway bunker, exactly where Spieth told him to aim — on No. 10. Volunteers wished him well and asked for selfies. Block signed flags and balls and hats for kids. A tournament staffer in a golf cart told Block he’d remember his week at the PGA Championship for the rest of his life.
“The standard golfer can relate way more to a club pro than a TOUR pro because you see them at every single course,” Hossler said, attempting to explain Block’s popularity and relatability.
“Blockie,” he added, “is like the dude hanging out at your club.”
Max Homa called him “a legend” and “a joy to be around.” Michael Jordan texted with congratulations.
A week ago, Block was known widely in PGA of America circles and the amateur scene in Southern California. That was about it. Now he’s a borderline household name.
What’s next? Not even Block knows that.
“I'm not trying to guess what's going to happen. I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing,” Block said. “Just keep doing exactly what I've been doing, exactly what I did last week, and exactly how, honestly, I've lived my whole life. Whatever comes of it comes of it. I'll enjoy it one way or the other. I've got a great life both ways.”
It had been at least three hours since he and Hossler had climbed that hill, just themselves and their caddies, on the loneliest part of Colonial.
Looking forward to Sunday, that one man had said.
“Hopefully,” Block had replied with a smile, “we’ll be there.”