I had a dream last night about Ken Duke. I ended up at a party and he was there in the corner smoking a cigar.
Now I don’t know if Ken even smokes or not but, hey, it’s a dream so anythings possible.
If Ken Duke were here, I’m sure he’d be like, “What are you dreaming about me and not Tiger or Rory or some other young gun?” It’s a little odd that he popped up in a dream – or maybe not.
A while back, I had no idea who Ken Duke even was but as a regular golf leader board watcher I would always see his name, and after you keep seeing it time after time you begin to see the pattern – the pattern of playing well.
But I began to wonder who he was and sort of kept an eye on him. I was always secretly rooting for him as I began to know his story. He’s the quintessential journeyman. An Arkansas boy who finally wins on the PGA tour (after 187 attempts) at age 44 at the 2013 Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT.
It’s a hard story not to like. He’s the Rocky Balboa of golf. He started playing on the Nike tour in 1995. Played in 22 events and made 5 cuts for a total of $3,000. I guess we can’t really imagine the thoughts that go through your mind at this point but they must have been severely taunting.
He slowly kept chipping away. Back and forth from Q-school to the tour and back again. Some good years. Some not so good. But he persevered – amazingly so.
Here’s just a glimpse of what he was thinking:
You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do. That’s why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It’s kind of one of those things once you finally do it it might come easier the next time. And that’s kind of the way I feel.
A lot changed when he met Bob Toski, the famed player and legendary golf teacher. Bob grew up around the area I grew up in (Western, MA) – so you see a lot of his pics around here in golf clubs, restaurants, etc. He must have had a really calming, wise influence on Ken.
I have even taken lessons from his brother Tommy who works out a golf range in Hadley, MA and still going strong at 85+. He had a demo a few years back and that old coot could hit it farther than I could with the back of his driver! Crazy!
So back to the dream. I asked Ken about the golf swing and he would just look at me with a wiry smile and say, “keep practicing, just keep practicing, you’ll get better – time’s on your side.” The other thing I remember him saying is “dig deep.”
I guess you could interpret those things in many ways but after writing them it’s almost like he has the “secret” now. Be patient. Believe. Be humble and quiet about it. Let the power accumulate. Stay positive. Don’t keep digging up the seed to see if the tree is still growing. It will happen, time’s on your side.
He even hinted at that in one of his statements,
You have to be patient. You can’t make things happen out here. You can’t win by pushing everything. You just have to be patient. And that’s kind of the way I live life. I’m an easy-going kind of guy, just kind of go-with-the-flow kind of guy, and that’s the way I play golf.
I’m glad I had this dream about Ken Duke. It made me start to think about patience and work and growth. It’s not all instant gratification (as almost everything is these days). You can’t go from seed to fully blooming plant over night. You have to cultivate. Somehow Ken Duke knew this or certainly believed it.
Maybe it was somehow instilled in him in his humble boyhood years in the fields and farms of Arkansas. Seeing how worthwhile things take time and love and hope.
It was so cool to see him hit that shot to within 2 feet get or so in the second playoff hole and calmly can that putt and finally get his first PGA Tour win at the Travelers. You sort of knew it was his time.
I only wish that Ken comes out with a book one of these days soon. I would just love to know more of his journey, his thought process, his incredible determination and perseverance against all odds. We can all learn a lot from Ken Duke. I know I did.
Image: courtesy of Golfweek