It’s been a Block party all week at the PGA Championship, and the man at the heart of festivities is not done partying just yet.
Michael Block, the 46-year-old club pro who teaches golf lessons at a public course in California, is schooling many of the game’s biggest stars on New York’s notoriously challenging Oak Hill East Course.
Having been the only one of 20 PGA Head Professional’s to make the cut, Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club’s very own shot his third consecutive even-par 70 in Saturday’s third round. With 18 holes left to play, he sat tied for eighth, six shots behind leader – and four-time major champion – Brooks Koepka.
In his wake, a who’s who of golf’s elite; Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and Phil Mickelson, to name a few.
One shot ahead was Rory McIlroy, Block’s playing partner for the final round – though he didn’t initially believe he’d be walking the course with the four-time major winner.
“Are you serious?”, a stunned Block asked in an uplifting video posted to Twitter by the PGA Tour when he was told who his playing partner would be.
There was a deafening roar as Block followed McIlroy in striping his opening tee shot down the fairway on Sunday, merely another day of huge partisan support as he goes in pursuit of history.
In the 105 years of the PGA Championship, no PGA Professional has ever finished inside the top 10. Not since Steve Schneiter in 2005 has a PGA pro finished inside the top-40.
It’s been a dizzying week, but Block is determined to relish every second.
“I’ll look back at it and I’ll say, I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he told reporters after his third round.
“I’ve learned at this point to enjoy the moment, to sit back and relax and enjoy it because it goes by fast, and life goes by fast. Before you know it, you’re 60 years old and retired and look back at the videos on this and remember that was the best week of my life, and more than likely this is probably going to be the best week of my life.
“So I’m going to sit back as much as I can with my friends and family at the house we rented and watch the videos tonight and see all my new followers on Instagram. It’s been crazy, it’s been awesome.”
Contender for hire
Sunday’s champion stands to win $3.15 million of a $17.5 million total prize purse. Block’s biggest cash-in to date? $75,000, earned at the Club Professional National Championship in 2014.
Should he remain eighth at the end of play, Block will earn $545,000, according to CBS Golf – even 30th place would see him take home $110,000.
It could be a potentially life-changing payout should Block maintain his stellar play Sunday, and a far cry from the sums he receives for teaching golf in California. According to a PGA Tour profile, he is hireable from $125 for 45 minutes, but in a walk and talk interview with CBS during his third round, Block informed viewers that the price was going up.
“Actually, it’s $150 for an hour, it hasn’t been updated,” Block, laughing, told CBS’ Trevor Immelman.
“I give a couple lessons and I’ve learned, the people I give lessons to are the people I like to hang out with. The first 10-15 years while I was instructing I would say yes to everybody because I was trying to put a dollar in the bank and raise a couple boys and be along with my wife.
“Now I’ve been fortunate enough to play decent golf over the last couple years and make enough money to where I don’t have to grind it out on the range all day long. So now I give usually about two to three lessons a week to people that I love to be around.”
Yet teaching is just one of the tasks of a club pro, many of which do not involve golf at all. According to Block, he hits less than a bucket of balls a week.
“You deal with 600 different personalities. You’ve got a lawyer telling you how to grow grass and you’ve got an accountant telling you that the burger wasn’t cooked right,” Block explained.
“That’s a natural thing for me … I’m just being myself, that’s my big goal …”