‘I got sick of myself’: PGA sensation Michael Block gets honest about whirlwind year

Michael Block

Michael Block last year at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

Getty Images

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Max Verstappen and the gang be damned. 

Breakfast was on. 

Bob Lasken loves this one. He can’t get through it without laughing, though, so we’ll try to help. Seems the newfound fame of his longtime friend and colleague has had folks calling. Like Verstappen. You’ve maybe heard of him. F1 megastar. Mega rich. The driver and his Red Bull Racing team wanted to fly Lasken’s man from California out to Qatar for a promotional shoot. A little golf. Some global exposure. He’d be in, right? Of course. Flight leaves Tuesday morning. 

No good.  

Michael Block had long ago booked a Tuesday morning meal with the local Rotary Club.  

“Are you kidding me?” Lasken said. “… I’m like, that’s so solid. 

“Then Formula 1 came back, ‘OK, fly out right after the Rotary Club breakfast,’ and they switched the whole thing around to accommodate him, but that just shows you how solid he is.”

Yeah, it’s Michael Block’s world — still — and we’re just waiting for him to finish his bacon and eggs. 

Where did you last see him? Where haven’t you seen him? Let’s start with where most of us first saw him, just about a year ago, in upstate New York, at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. Heading into the tournament, he’d been a self-deprecating, self-assured, self-proclaimed dad bod clumped among the 20 club pros who annually qualify for the major — a blend that made it all the more memorable when, in order, the then-46-year-old playing out of Arroyo Trabuco in SoCal hammed it up with Nantz, then made the weekend cut, then played with McIlroy on Sunday and then tied for 15th after a crazy up-and-down on 18, landing him a spot in the next PGA, which begins Thursday here at Valhalla Golf Club. 

Poetically, the Block ballad hit all the right chords. It touched on golf’s magnetism, that what-if fantasy — what if all of our very, very best showed up at the first tee and hung around, and Block’s mostly did, for four days even. But the story hit even harder. Here was a husband and father of two teens who thought he’d been good enough, and others told him that, too, only life happened, and that was OK. But then along came a chance, as he was creeping toward 50, and not only did he not miss, but he also literally made one on the fly — on Sunday, in front of Rory and thousands of delirious fans, he slam-dunked a tee ball

Only Block stayed true to his everyman-ism, too. He laughed. He cried. He shrugged. Back home, Lasken and company did, too. Their Blockie was being Blockie. On TV! At a freaking major! 

Then it was time for the 6 o’clock news. Golf was over. Roll the credits. The clock struck at 72 holes. Block waved. He exited Oak Hill. 

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But he returned Monday. TV networks wanted a word. Others, too, over the past year. The list is as ludicrous as it is long. Michael Jordan. Hey, what a run. The PGA Tour. Wanna play in our next stop, four days after the PGA? The Australian Open. Wanna come Down Under in December? Raising Canes and other businesses. Can we sponsor you? DJ Khaled. Wanna a spot in my Miami event?

And Verstappen. And the Rotary Club. 

And podcasts. Want to come on? We have a question about McIlroy’s distance. There, Block had a thought about the heights to which he could soar if only he had McIlroy’s speed. Maybe it was all too much. Overkill. And folks were over him. He was too much. Too thirsty. He was everywhere. 

A reporter also messaged him. 

Want to talk about it all? The post-PGA Championship ride, a most curious case of golf and celebrity and human nature? Say 9 Thursday morning?

Actually, Block needed to make it 9:30. 

He was practicing. 

Michael Block, Todd Graves
Michael Block and Raising Canes founder Todd Graves earlier this month. Getty Images

What’s the oddest thing you’ve done?

Block says he’s not sure, but he’s done “different” things, which says something else. He segues into a story. DJ Khaled, the hip-hop producer/golf fanatic, had invited him to lunch in his backyard in Miami during the week of his event. (Isn’t that a sentence?) 

Khaled offered a tip. 

“He tells me, Blockie, he’s like, just don’t say no to anything. This is your time, this is your place. Right now, you get after it and you go hard. 

“And literally that was kind of at the beginning, and I literally pretty much didn’t say no to any interviews, podcasts, places that I’m going to go play in a tournament. I mean, I went everywhere in the world, went on every podcast possible, did every interview possible, and I just haven’t said no.”

Below is a collection of the yesses:

— Played the week after the PGA at the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge. Played two weeks later at the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open. Played in November at the PGA Tour’s World Wide Technology Championship, where Jack Nicklaus used Block’s putter in a celebrity event. Played in January at the PGA Tour’s American Express event and at the Farmers Insurance Open. He missed the cut at each. 

— Played in December at the DP World Tour’s Australian Open. Tied for 27th. 

— Won the Southern California PGA Professional Championship in September. Won the Southern California PGA Match Play Championship a week later. Was named 2023 PGA Professional of the Year. 

— Played in the DJ Khaled event in July. Played in a Tiger Woods event in October. Played with long driver Kyle Berkshire 

— Was nominated for an ESPY 

— Did work for TaylorMade, GoodGood, Cisco, Corebridge Financial, Raising Canes, Michelob Ultra, DraftKings and Dewars

— Did the Verstappen shoot, which was released on Halloween 

— Appeared at an Anaheim Ducks game earlier in October

— Played golf at Valhalla in August. More on that later. 

Oh, and he’s now in a semi-regular game with Freddie Couples. Should have noted that higher. He’d been a Block hero, one of the pros he’d name as part of that dream-foursome question, along with Arnie and Payne.  

But then again, what the hell does DJ Khaled know besides beats and bass lines? 

Why always say yes? Why never say no? Why do any of it? Block had a job. Family. Friends. That’s establishment. That’s security. That’s what we really desire. He knew who he was. Some never find that. 

But talk to Lasken, or Lyon Lazare, a close friend and a fellow teaching pro who last year flew out to the PGA late Friday, and they’ll tell you fast-talking, B.S.’er Blockie had forever been fit for fame — and it was the spotlight’s fault that it hadn’t found him earlier.

Still, maybe there’s a benefit to that. 

We talked. 

It seems to me, it seems to others, that you’ve embraced it. Why have you?

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Block said. “Who doesn’t want to be a movie star or a rock star or a professional athlete, you know? We all mainly want to be one of those. And for me to kind of live that life of a professional athlete for a year or two is really, really cool. Would I want to do that my entire life? No, I’m actually really happy that I decided to be a working, stay-at-home father and husband and run a golf course. I mean, when it’s all said and done, could I have done this my entire life? I’m putting myself up with Tiger or anybody like that, but like one of the famous golfers, I don’t think I could have done that my entire life. I could see why a lot of them retract and don’t come out of their houses and they’re recluse and don’t talk to media a lot. I could see how that could go down. But for me, being able to enjoy just for a couple of years is just a perfect way to make it happen.”  

“Do you think that’s the benefit of being a little bit older and having seen things and experienced things, whereas maybe a 22-year-old version of yourself might not have been able to?”

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“Yeah, 100 percent,” Block said. “The 22-year-old version thinks this is going to go on for the next 20 years. I’m realistic with it and got to enjoy every moment of it, got to enjoy every conversation with these people that I’ve met, including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, basically in the same day. I mean, it’s insane to me who I’ve come across over this year and who actually knew me walking up to me and calling me ‘Blockie.’”

“Early on, as you mentioned, as things were coming fast like that, did you have to take a step back? Did someone talk to you about that? I’m trying to think if I were in that spot, if all of a sudden something I wrote or whatever came at me really fast. And the wanting to say yes, but — how did you manage that?

“Yeah, I mean, everyone knows the dumb Rory comment, you know, on the Bob Menery deal, and you know what, out of the one million interviews and 20 million things I’ve said, for pretty much one thing to be idiotic, those percentages were actually pretty good.”

That would beat my percentage, for sure. 

“So you know, I feel good about that part of it.” 

The Bob Menery deal? Have a watch above, or read below, with the conversation started by Menery and answered by Block:

“So what’s the difference between his game on — would you, I mean, you just assume that Rory is a better golfer than you are?”

“He’s a lot longer than I am, that’s what it is.”

“OK, so the length is the big thing.”

“Oh my god, what I would shoot from where Rory hits it would be stupid. … I think I would be one of the best players in the world.”


“Hands down. Oh, if I had that stupid length, all day. My iron game, wedge game, around the greens, and my putting, is world class.” 

That was from the “Ripper Magoo” podcast hosted by Menery, released shortly after the PGA, and while Block backlash may not have started here, the 32-second sequence put it on a tee for anyone wavering. 

Block backlash? Wait, weren’t we just toasting him? That’s how these things can go. But understanding the blowback is complex. There are layers. Did folks, especially those frequently on social media, now demand their one-time king’s head? They did, though to be clear, that would have likely come at some point, regardless of club pro Block thinking he was one club away from being one of the game’s best. It’s how fame works these days. Everyone’s a joke. Everyone’s poked. Everyone’s a meme. (The video of Block twirling around after learning he was being paired with McIlroy is particularly useful for showing surprise, if you’re interested.) 

It’s partially an effect of being out in the public eye often, which Block continues to be. But it’s more an effect of being out there longer than some deem sufficient. The beauty of Block, remember, was that he was getting his 15 minutes, but that, as the label says, has a short expiration date. Only he’s kept showing up long after his four Oak Hill rounds. He’s embraced the celebrityhood, though that comes in a time when some prefer our stars to play it more cool. Block’s also kept showing up as Block. They said he was sincere. But they never said he wasn’t shy. Under his TaylorMade “Raw” hat, he does believe he can hang with the Spieths and the Schefflers — because isn’t that how you’re supposed to think, regardless of reality? (Notably, Block has missed the cut in all of his PGA Tour invites since the PGA.) None of this, of course, is meant to apologize for his bravado. Maybe there should have been more humility. It’s grating to some. As is some of his cheese. Already the online gang is readying themselves this week for a Block deluge, of which this is a part.

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But Lasken and Lazare say this is how their guy has always walked and talked, and there’s also something endearing about that. 

Block, meanwhile, says he’s read the comments. Said he responds to them, too. 

We talked. 

“I would have still done the interview with Bob,” Block said. “I still would have said probably the same stupid thing because I was still kind of living on this high right there where I did just beat, you know, 85 of the top 100 players in the world. And, you know, when you’re doing that, you have to have this kind of mentality. You kind of have to be in this, I’m better than everyone else in order to succeed under those situations, you know. Like, when an NBA player’s shooting a free throw, he better think that he’s the best free-throw shooter in the world. And that’s just how it needs to be. And I still was kind of caught up in that moment of having to be like that. Because on hole 18, that chip that I had, to get up and down on the final hole, I had to think that I was the best chipper in the world at that moment. If I don’t think like that, I’m not going to succeed.”  

“But I’m curious about some of the backlash, be it the reaction to your Rory comment or seeing you in all the different places. How have you looked at that? When you see those things and you read the comments, what’s been your reaction?” 

“Oh, that’s easy,” Block said. “I learned a long time ago that I don’t judge anybody until I get to know them because I was very immature back in the day, too, where I judged people, talked bad about people before I ever knew them, and then I met all these people in my life that I had talked trash about and I meet them and I’m like, oh, my god, that guy is like really cool. And that’s one of the things that where at the beginning I’m going, how are these guys talking bad about me when they’ve never met me in my life. Most of the people that end up meeting me, they don’t hate me. 

“So it’s just kind of an interesting thing, where I wasn’t used to it, but at the same time, I mean that social media thing, it’s ugly out there, man. It’s really ugly, that Instagram hate thing. It’s a really strange thing that’s going on. But at the same time, I’m smart enough to understand that it isn’t just me. I mean, you look at it, the nicest guys, some of the best athletes in the world, they have all these people talking hate about them and trash and trolling them, which I just don’t understand it, but I guess that’s just kind of what’s happening right now in that world. At the beginning, I was hurt by it, and now, I honestly barely even look at comments and stuff like that. I understand how many people when I walk around enjoy what I’m doing and enjoyed watching me do what I did at Oak Hill. If you spend a day with me, you’d understand how I see 100 percent positivity and zero negative unless I get on social media.”    

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“I would imagine that would be something before Oak Hill where you were looking at your Instagram account and your social media and you would just naturally read all the comments, and now it’s completely flipped. How long did it take to shut that off?”

“Yeah, at the beginning, I was like, I would respond to the haters, you know, and I would be like, you don’t know me, you can’t talk,” Block said. “And then a lot of people — the crazy part is, the ones that I responded to DM’d me back and would go, hey, man, I’m actually a big fan, you know, I was drinking last night and stuff like that and I’m like, OK. Like, literally almost every person I responded to got back to me saying, oh, I’m actually a huge fan of yours. I’m going, then why the hell were you saying that? That was kind of interesting. I got to see that a little bit. And then when you also see the profiles of the haters, it’s always no picture, it’s always no one follows them. It’s the strangest thing in the world. It’s a very odd thing. But at the same time, I got over that very quickly. You know, and I think most of it has gone away in the majority. Obviously it’s not going to go away 100 percent. 

“But I mean, yeah, I got sick of myself I was so out there. I literally was sick of myself and seeing posts about me that I can only imagine people that weren’t me how much they hated — like, I was over it. So I don’t really blame people for being like, OK, that’s enough about Blockie, you know, and I totally get that.” 

DJ Khaled, Michael Block
DJ Khaled and Michael Block in July. Getty Images

There is refuge for those tired of Blockie, though. 

He almost assuredly won’t win this week. Even he doesn’t think so. 

He very likely won’t even finish in the top 15 again. The chances of earning a spot in next year’s PGA Championship by finishing among the top 20 in the club pro championship are better, but also small. 

The sponsors will likely stop coming. DJ Khaled will find another one. (A nod to the Khaled lyric, of course.) 

Two kids in Scotland won’t like seeing it, though. Block said he didn’t have an odd story, but we’ll say this kinda is. It came last summer, during an Open Championship qualifying event where Block said the boys had been tracking his plane on the way. Really? Why? They told him they were fans. They liked his story. They liked him. How did he react? He let them walk all 18 with him.  

Then there’s Lasken’s daughter, who’s loved the celeb stories. Even went with dad to a golf dinner. 

“And he’s in Miami with all these celebrities and so my daughter’s thinking like, hey, there’s going to be all these celebrities there, you know, I want to go,” Lasken said. “So she ends up going with me instead of my wife, and it ended up being the opposite of that. He got honored by the PGA, but everybody that he invited, he told them, he goes, hey, everybody I invited here tonight is part of the success I’ve had. And he went table to table telling stories of how this person was involved, how grateful he was to have that person in his life. And how they were instrumental to getting him to where he was. It was fantastic.” 

“What did he say about you?”

“You know, he’s helped me out with my golf game. You know, back in the day, I helped his kids. Just been there for him. That was really fun.”

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So the ride almost certainly is nearly over for the now-47-year-old who strung together four rounds of golf better than he ever had before, turned his 15 minutes into 365 days, became polarizing online and seems to have had the time of his dad bod life. What do we even make of all that, though? How do you encapsulate it? All good questions. Then again Block thinks he’s going to give the Champions Tour a run in a couple of years. And remember that list from the start? Where it was mentioned that he’d played a round at Valhalla last August?

Albeit from different tees that day, he shot the course record, so maybe the heady questions can wait another day because more actually could be written. Golf’s a strange and wonderful game like that, where you’re always just a shot away, and maybe that’s how it’s best to leave things there.

One more question then.   

“Do you miss the time before last year’s PGA Championship at all?” 

“No, I’ll have that soon enough,” Block said. “You know, in my mind, I’ll have that in the next couple years. I’m fine with it. I have no doubt that this will all simmer down. Unless I do something stupid again here in the next couple years. Because I did have a dream before that I was going to come down the stretch, but it was at Riviera against Tiger. I had always dreamt that what happened to me blowing up kind of like how it happened, was going to happen, but it was me against Tiger at Riv. My new one is I win the Senior U.S. Open. And I really believe in that. And that’s kind of like my next — honestly, that’s like my next big, big goal now is to get in the Senior Open in two years and give myself a good shot because I love very hard course setups and stuff like that. 

“I’m kinda leaning toward that, but I do realize, though, if nothing else big happens in golf, I’ll be back to normal, I’ll be back on the range giving lessons, I’ll be running a golf course and with my family a lot more than I had been. So it’s not a bad thing.” 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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