Born: January 29, 1969
Birthplace: Hope, Arkansas
Height: 6’ ft 1 in
College: Henderson State University
Turned Pro: 1994
Sponsors: Taylor Made
The thought of making a living as a professional golfer was probably the furthest thing from Ken Duke’s mind when he was a young teenager growing up in Hope, Arkansas. Diagnosed with scoliosis when he was in 7th grade, Duke wore back braces and underwent two spinal surgeries, one to attach a metal rod to his spine, in an effort to correct a spine that had a 72 degree curvature before his second surgery.
Somehow, someway, Duke would recover and doggedly pursue the game, becoming a standout golfer in high school where he captured the conference championship in 10th grade. Duke went on to play collegiate golf at now Division II Henderson State University. There, he led the Reddies to four straight conference titles. Duke was named an NAIA All-American in 1994.
Duke labored between mini-tours all over the globe before finding his groove on the Canadian PGA Tour, where he won twice in 1994 and led the tour in earnings. These performances allowed Duke to graduate to the Nike Tour in 1995. Duke would bounce between the Nike Tour and the PGA for the next decade and a half before breaking though in his 187th start. In June 2013, Duke won the Travelers Championship in a sudden death playoff over Chris Stroud. Duke would go on to make 15 cuts that season and earn more than $1.7 million.
Duke didn’t fare as well during the 2014 PGA season but managed to retain his card. Duke rebounded during the first half of 2015, recording three top tens and earning more than $600,000 through 23 events.
Duke credits the legendary Bob Toski with refining his swing. Away from the course, Duke enjoys listening to country music and fishing.