Long Before Michael Block Became a PGA Championship Legend, He Was Semi-Famous for Starring in the Greatest Local TV Golf Course Ad of All Time
You don't have to have followed the PGA Championship over the weekend or even give a tinker's damn about golf in general to be aware of Michael Block's triumphant arrival onto the national stage. At my gym this morning, he was at various times being discussed on four different networks on the bank of TVs hanging on the ceiling, including simultaneously on both CNN and Fox News. Everyone loves a feel-good underdog story. And his is about as good as they come. As Dan Rapoport explained after the final round:
Michael Block, man, what a story. Virtually every angle of this has been covered, so I’ll highlight a cool aspect of it: he’s actually a club pro. Like, he deals with members and gives lessons. There are a few club pros in ever PGA Championship who play year-round, don’t really spend any time at their “home” club and yet reap the benefits of having an affiliation with a club. He is the exact type of club pro that this opportunity to play in the PGA Championship is supposed to reward. A 10/10 performance from him, capped off by a pairing with Rory McIlroy and a hole-in-one on 15 on Sunday. I would say it’s Hollywood stuff but it’s even too cheesy for Hollywood. Hard to believe this actually happened.
Swishing his tee shot on 15. Birdieing the 18th to secure a spot in next year's tournament. Earning as much in one weekend as he would if he gave roughly 2,000 lessons at $150 per at his home course. And best of all, this reaction from the 19th hole at that course:
Try as I might not to fall into the trap of talking about golf with all sorts of pretentious, purple prose, Legend of Bagger Vance type claptrap, there are times when it's hard not to see some metaphysics when it comes to this game. Times like this when one inch on one shot changes someone's life for good and it makes you feel like the "Golf Gods" you talk about on the course when someone catches a break maybe aren't just a metaphor.
But at the very least, that hole-in-one was a reminder of something my brother said a while back: That no matter how many times you play this game, every time you step onto a golf course, you'll see something you've never seen before. Granted, he said it when our other brother hit a tree down the left side, his ball caromed across the fairway, and then hit a tree on the right side and ended up in the short grass. True story. But the point remains.
Anyway, before sink any deeper into the sand trap of my own digressions, it turns out Michael Block's performance at Oak Hill wasn't the beginning of his fame, it was just the latest iteration. It seems that long before he was all over cable news, he was a local TV legend:
Holy moly. Block might be our greatest living actor. Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis and Denzel Washington all rolled into one. But with the deft comedic timing of Tom Hanks and the charisma of Bradley Cooper. All of which is captured by the kind of production values you only find in a local basic cable ad for a car dealership or a furniture store.
You might not consider yourself much of a joiner, but how can you not want to put your application in for Arroyo Trabuco after seeing this? The shaky cam that doesn't show his whole head half the time. The guy inexplicably going around in a giant Easter Bunny head. Taking the props from the Pro Shop into the bar and giving them out? Not since Al Czervick rolled into Bushwood and started buying out the store have we witnessed such golf clubhouse-themed improv. Then the Mr. Steal Yo Girl twist. Followed by the divine ending that even Mel Gibson wouldn't have had the audacity to include? An absolute tour de force from beginning to end.
We're all happy for Michael Block. How can you not be, and still claim you have a human heart. But that said, the PGA Championship's gain is low budget local TV's loss. Let's hope he doesn't retire from the profession he was born to do.