As a seventh-grader, was diagnosed with scoliosis. The Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Ark., determined he had a 26-percent curvature of the spine and advised him to wear a back brace 23 hours a day. Two years later, with the curvature reaching 51 percent, he underwent surgery. Without the procedure, the pressure on his lungs and heart might have become life-threatening. Surgeons attached a 16-inch metal road to his spine to facilitate straightening.
Remarkably, just months later he returned to his high school golf team—and playing in a back brace—won medalist honors at a district tournament. In 2009, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences established The Ken Duke Endowed Chair in Scoliosis. Funds from the chair treat spinal deformities, tumors and fractures.
He credits his dad for giving him his start in golf but says legendary instructor Bob Toski changed his swing and his life. His biggest golf thrill was playing a round at Augusta National in 2009 with Toski, who was 82 at the time.
Was inducted into the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame in October 2013 at Pleasant Valley CC in Little Rock. Pledged $25,000 to Travelers Championship charities at awards ceremony after his 2013 victory, issuing a personal check before leaving TPC River Highlands that evening.