NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — In its nearly 100-year history, Muskegon-area Oak Ridge Golf Course has played host to thousands of golfers, but there’s no one who knows the course like Andrew Ruthkoski.
“More or less since, I don’t know, 10 years? I would love to come here to play golf,” Ruthkoski said. “Each hole has its own distinctive character. It’s a good place to go out and play.”
Oak Ridge is where Andrew started. He then played golf at Michigan State University before trying his hand at the professional circuit. Oak Ridge is where Andrew returned after being unable to continue as a professional golfer.
“It wasn’t that I wanted to hang him. But eventually you have to save some money, which is why I started working at UPS in the morning,” Ruthkoski said. “It would be nice to have a break.”
When you most needed a break, Oak Ridge had a surprise in store.
“The way it started was, ‘Let’s go out and play! We’ll play until dark,’” Ruthkoski said. “We started playing and I chipped hole one for eagle.”
What started as a casual game with his stepchildren quickly turned into something more.
“I’m under 9 through six holes, it’s not like I’m making a big deal out of it or anything because the kids are out there, they don’t know,” Ruthkoski said.
“I was playing with him the whole time, because he was wearing sandals,” said Dave Buck, Ruthkoski’s longtime friend.
Buck had noted that the sun was setting on Ruthkoski’s historic day.
“I googled ‘Muskegon sunset’ and it said 9:28,” he said.
That’s when Buck realized he needed to step in and help.
“Dave has his own golf cart, lives across the street. He and Max say, ‘Dude, you can’t quit now.’ He drives and tells me to put my clubs down,” Ruthkoski said.
With Buck driving and filming, Ruthkowksi faced the back nine, down 11 shots. With some hiccups, he found himself looking for his fifth eagle, to make 18 under par on the 18th hole.
“I put it down maybe 5 inches from the cup and hit it. In the mode I was like 17 under, but man, it could have been 18,” Ruthkoski said.
Ruthkoski shot a 55, a score so many golfers dream of approaching. Now Ruthkoski is ready for his day to come. He has been playing professionally for the first time in five years and is ready for another chance to make a living doing what he loves.
“He can play with anyone, he just needs a chance to go out there and prove it,” Buck said.
No one knows where Ruthkoski’s second attempt at turning pro will end up, but he does know that it started on the same course that taught him a love of the game.
“It’s about playing golf, enjoying the game and seeing what happens,” he said.