Thoughts on Leadership: A Chip Off the New Block

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in an early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call and today I joined Intero’s Rally, where I shared “10 Things to Do Right Now to Crush it in Today’s Market” before sitting down to write this post to you.

Today I want to share an incredible story about an event that happened over the weekend. It all began when Michael Block, head club pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, California – located just a stone’s throw away from our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices franchise headquarters where I spent time last week – played in the 2023 PGA Championship.

But this story isn’t only about a golf club pro entering the 105th PGA Championship, one of four major PGA tournaments that take place each season. After Block arrived at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York – the host of this year’s tournament – he went on to capture the hearts of golf fans around the world with a brilliant (and unexpected) run for the title.

On Saturday at the end of play, Block was in the Top 10, something that hadn’t been achieved by a golf club pro in a PGA Major in over 30 years. And he did it with humility and charm.

On Sunday, he hit not just a hole-in-one at the par-3, 151-yard 15th hole but slam-dunked it, meaning he hit the ball off the tee and directly into the hole without disturbing even a single blade of grass.

In a post-tournament interview just after he turned in his scorecard, Block explained how it all went down. He said he didn’t see the ball go in but knew it was a good shot and knew it was at the pin, though he thought it was a little short. Professional golfer Rory Mcllory, who was paired with Block for the round, walked up to him and gave him a big hug as the crowd cheered. Block thought, “Why in the world is he giving me a hug?” Then Mcllroy said: “Blocky, it went in!”

“Are you serious?” Block asked against the roar of the crowd.

He sure was.

Later, when describing the shot, PGA sportscaster Jim Nantz called it an “all-time up and down.”

In the end, Block finished the tournament in 15th place, winning $288,333, though he’d also be offered $50,000 for his trusty 7-iron, the one he used to make the hole-in-one. Two-thousand congratulatory texts poured in for the tournament hero, including, Block said, one from Michael Jordan. And when a reporter asked him how he felt about his performance over the weekend, Block said: “It’s amazing. I’m living a dream. I’m making sure that I enjoy this moment. I’ve learned that after my 46 years of life, it’s not going to get better than this. There’s no way.”

After Block finished the tournament, he received a sponsor’s exemption to compete at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas this coming weekend. Cameras captured the now-famous moment when Block received the news and said: “If you could talk to my boss real quick and tell them that I won’t be at work next week …”

So, what’s the message? Michael Block’s improbable tale of an Orange County golf club pro turned PGA Championship legend can be summed up in the same two words he’s had stamped for decades on every single one of his golf balls–including the ones he used at the tournament: “Why not?”

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