Five things to know: Michael Block
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Written by Kevin Prise @PGATOURKevin
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It’s a Block party in western New York.
PGA professional Michael Block captivated the golf world Friday morning when he leapt into second place at the PGA Championship, adding a Cinderella storyline to the year’s second major. Block, 46, was just a shot off the lead as he played the back nine of his second round at Oak Hill. He eventually signed for a second consecutive 70 to easily make the cut and remain in contention at the tournament's halfway point.
By holding his own against the best players in the world, Block is surely making his fellow PGA of America professionals proud.
"I'm just your local club pro," Block said Friday. "That's what I do. I don't hit balls. People think I've got the best job in the world. I do have a great job. I have a very supportive club that lets me go play, but the amount of times I hit a bucket of balls is not even once a week.
"Club pros, I always heard, figure it out within a couple shots. TOUR pros figure it out within one shot, and I was lucky enough to figure it out within one shot this time."
Here are five things to know about the PGA pro who is contending at Oak Hill:
1. LENGTHY RESUME
Block earned his spot in the field by finishing T2 at this year’s PGA Professional Championship. He’s also the reigning PGA of America Professional Player of the Year, which he described as “one of my last bucket list dreams.” A new bucket-list item is perhaps unfolding at Oak Hill.
This week marks his fifth PGA Championship start, and his seventh in a major (he also played the 2007 and 2018 U.S. Opens). He did not make the cut in any of them, however. His first-round 70 on Thursday was his lowest career round in a major by two shots. He had a 76.6 scoring average in majors entering the week.
He signed for another 70 in the second round and will start the weekend at even-par 140. It was a roller-coaster second round for the PGA pro. He birdied three of his first five holes Friday and was still 3 under par through 12 holes. He bogeyed the par-5 fourth, however, and made a double at the fifth hole before making par on his final four holes.
His lowest 36-hole score in a major before this week was 8-over 148 at the 2016 PGA at Baltusrol.
The PGA Championship also is his 25th PGA TOUR start. He has made four cuts in those 24 previous events. His best TOUR finish is T69 at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship.
2. FROM ST. LOUIS TO SOCAL
Block grew up in the St. Louis area and played college golf at Mississippi State before transferring to the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
After college, he attended the San Diego Golf Academy and graduated with a degree in golf course management. Block was an assistant pro at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, California, from 1998-2004. His next stop was Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California, where he still works today as the head golf professional. He received PGA of America membership in 2012 and has continued working at Arroyo Trabuco ever since.
3. SOCAL LEGEND
Block has become a dominant force in the Southern California PGA, and it is that success that has earned him the majority of his PGA TOUR starts.
He’s been named the Southern California PGA Player of the Year honors in nine of the last 10 years (2013-2022, with the exception being 2017). He’s a past California State Open champion and also won the Southern California PGA Championship in 2017, 2018 and 2022.
4. PUBLIC ACCESS
Block’s home course, Arroyo Trabuco, is a public course designed by former world No. 1 Tom Lehman and Casey O’Callaghan. The course measures 7,011 yards from the tips. A 45-minute lesson with Block is a relative bargain considering his impressive playing resume. He charges $125 for 45 minutes, with a nine-hole playing lesson running $500.
Block also owns the course record at Arroyo Trabuco after shooting 59 in 2019.
5. GETTING TECHNICAL
When he first began teaching, Block struggled to deviate from a cookie-cutter method.
As he became more experienced, he grew comfortable in providing specific instruction and strategies to each student.
“The old Arnold Palmer, ‘Swing your swing,’ is a huge thing for me,” Block said Thursday while doing a walk-and-talk interview on the course. “I don’t teach one way. I teach what that person has the capability of doing and learning, and that’s been a huge benefit of teaching for the last 25 years for me. I’m not trying to teach anybody Tiger’s or Rory’s swing, because that’s just not going to happen. So you’ve got to be realistic with what you’ve got. That’s a big thing. I try to be honest with my guys.
“The first couple years, you’re out there and you’re winging it. And telling everybody the same thing. Once you get confident in your teaching and your playing, it just gets better.”
Kevin Prise is an associate editor for the PGA TOUR. He is on a lifelong quest to break 80 on a course that exceeds 6,000 yards and to see the Buffalo Bills win a Super Bowl. Follow Kevin Prise on Twitter.