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Jun 14, 2018 6:46 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

East Hampton Native And Professional Caddy Duane Bock Talks About The U.S. Open

East Hampton native Duane Bock caddied for Kevin Kisner at last week’s U.S. Open. 
Jun 19, 2018 9:32 AM

East Hampton native Duane Bock has been immersed in professional golf his entire adult life. Last week his job as a PGA Tour caddy brought him back to the South Fork to help golfer Kevin Kisner at the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the fifth time the pair have appeared at an Open.

Bock and Kisner’s best finish came in 2015, when they placed 11th at Chambers Bay in Washington. They had also made the cut in nine straight major championships, but that streak ended last week, when Kisner finished 12-over par after two rounds on Friday, well over the 8-over cut-off.

While Kisner, a 34-year-old South Carolina-native who has won two PGA Tour events and is ranked 30th in the world golf rankings, worked on his game with swing coach John Tillery on the driving range at Shinnecock a few days prior to start of the tournament, Duane talked with Press reporter Michael Wright about his career in professional golf.

Michael Wright: Tell me about your career in golf.

Duane Bock: My dad got me started. He gave me every opportunity to play. I played four years in high school. Lee Deon was the coach then, he was a chemistry teacher. Then I went to Campbell University, a small Division I school. And I caddied at the Maidstone Club. The club was so good to us employees. They let the caddies play after 5 p.m. Dave Spencer was the pro there when I first started and then Dave Alvarez came in and he really took me under his wing. He and his assistants, they would bring me to Shinnecock and National in the fall and spring. The membership there, for whatever reason, really took a liking to me. I’d go out and play with some of them in the afternoons, after caddying. When I wanted to turn pro, Eric Gleacher and some other members got together and raised some money to help me go out on tour. I owe everything to the membership at Maidstone. I played professionally for 12 years, mostly on the Canadian Tour, the South Africa Tour and some mini-tours around the Carolinas. So to come back home here and see a lot of those members—Mr. Gleacher came over and said hello—it’s just been great to see those people that I haven’t seen in 25-30 years who really did a lot for me.

MW: How did you get into professional caddying?

DB: Playing professionally is really, really demanding. It takes all of your time. It’s not just the traveling 30 or more weeks a year. You have to put in so many hours even when you’re at home: practicing and working out. My daughter was born 15 years ago, and I lost that desire. You’ll be at the range hitting golf balls and you’re thinking about what your kids are doing. I didn’t want to go practice anymore. But I wanted to stay in the game, and this job gives you that. I enjoy the competitiveness.

MW: How did you hook up with Kevin?

DB: When I first met him, I was working for Doug LaBelle on the PGA Tour. We played a round together at the U.S. Open qualifier in Memphis and he and I kinda just hit it off. A year later I was looking for work and I gave him a call and he said, “Yeah, c’mon, let’s go.” In 2009, we did Q school and he got his Nationwide Tour card and he finished 11th on the money list that year and we moved right to the PGA Tour. Those first two years, he lost his card again both years, but went to Q school and got it right back and went back to the Web.com tour and earned his way back onto the PGA Tour again. Now the last 4-5 years, he’s really taken off, he’s playing really well. He’s won two PGA Tour events and had lots of other opportunities and that’s what’s really important, he’s there, he’s in the hunt.

MW: What makes a good caddy, are they mostly former professional golfers?

DB: A lot of caddies are former teammates or played with [their professional] in college or junior golf. Because it’s not just a matter of getting the right information and numbers and handing them a club. You have to gel. It’s a marriage. You’re together most of the time. And in the heat of the moment there can be a lot of pressure. There’s a reason why 50 percent of marriages fail. It’s the same thing out here. When you’re around someone for that amount of time, you have to learn when to say things and when not to say things.

MW: What do you see being the most important trait in a professional golfer?

DB: A strong head. All these guys have a ton of talent. But you can’t be afraid to fail. When you do fail, it’s in front of millions of people. And now you can really get beat up on social media. This guy [Kisner], he’s not afraid to be stripped naked in front of everybody. He gets back up and says let’s do it again. He works hard and he knows he has the ability, so he wants to get out there. In final group at the PGA Championship last year, someone asked him if he was nervous, and he said, “What’s there to be nervous about, I’m playing great. I get nervous when I’m fighting to make the cut on Friday because things aren’t working.” That year when we lost the playoff in the Players Championship and a couple weeks before that lost to Jim Furyk in Hilton Head and we kept finishing second and losing those playoffs, he knew he just got beat. But he loved the moment, he never backed down, he never was scared. He loves that situation.

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