MUSKEGON – It’s a round of Father’s Day golf Andrew Ruthkoski won’t soon forget.
The 39-year-old pro golfer from Muskegon just wanted to enjoy a quiet round with his twin stepdaughters, Emma and Riann, and Emma’s boyfriend, Max Price, at Oak Ridge Golf Club on the night of June 19, but he had problems early. he dances to his swing and etched his name into golf folklore 18 holes later.
The Mona Shores graduate already held the course record with an 11-under 61 in 2012, but matched his previous personal best in the front nine, where he posted four eagles, three birdies and two pars.
As daylight began to become a factor, Ruthkoski pushed on and made six more birdies over the back nine and settled for three pars to finish his round at 55, 17 under par. The mark ties a world record and was just one stroke away. of what is considered a perfect round.
The only other golfers to record 55 are Rhein Gibson in 2016 and Alexander Hughes in 2020. Jim Furyk set the PGA Tour record with 58 in 2016.
“I always wondered if I would be able to make it to 50 at some point this year,” Ruthkoski told MLive. “I had gotten close with an 11 under par in 2012 and when I realized I had matched it after the first nine holes, I decided to keep playing and build on the momentum that had started.
“I really got into a rhythm and kept a good rhythm from start to finish. I’ve birdied every hole on that course before and I’ve probably eagled half the holes, so I’m pretty comfortable with this course. I got on a roll early on and kept relying on my swing and muscle memory and kept playing through the course without thinking too much about anything. I think as a golfer, or any athlete, the more you focus on your process and trust yourself, the more likely you are to be successful.”
Ruthkoski couldn’t have asked for a better start to his round that night, as he eagled the No. 1, a 488-yard par 5, and added back-to-back birdies on holes no. ° 2 and 3 before carding another eagle. on hole 4, a par 5 of 526 yards.
“I was feeling pretty good after that start,” Ruthkoski admitted. “I just remember looking at the girls and saying that I doubt anyone has ever started a round on this course going eagle, birdie, birdie, eagle. They didn’t really understand the meaning of that and just asked me why I didn’t do that all the time.”
The Michigan State University graduate added another eagle on the 5th hole to continue his historic pace and followed it up with a birdie on the 6th hole and back-to-back pars on the 7th and 8th holes before capping the front nine with a birdie. at hole No. 9 to finish 11 under par.
However, the historic round of golf was put in jeopardy heading into the back nine, as the night had come by 8:45 p.m. Most courses require golf carts to be returned by around 9 p.m. . to convince Ruthkoski to continue with the round.
Turns out he didn’t need much reassurance.
“I had no doubt that I was going to play the last nine,” Ruthkoski said. “My friend, Dave (Buck), lives right next to the field and has his own cart. He had been watching me finish my first nine and offered to drive me the rest of the way, so I kept up the pace and finished the back nine in probably an hour or so.”
Ruthkoski started the back nine with a birdie on the 10th hole, followed by back-to-back pars on the 11th and 12th holes. He made three straight birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes before saving a par. on the 16th hole and finishing its course with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
As he got closer and closer to the story, word of Ruthkoski’s round spread through the local golf community, as Buck posted videos on Facebook of his friend’s record-breaking performance.
“I guess Dave was getting a lot of likes and comments on his Facebook posts and some people even considered coming to see me finish my round,” Ruthkoski said. “One of my friends tried to get to the 18th hole but he didn’t get there until we were done. It was still great to have that kind of support and all the texts and Facebook messages were really amazing.”
Ruthkoski helped the Mona Shores men’s golf team capture a Division 1 state championship in 2000 and later helped the Michigan State University men’s golf team win a Big Ten Championship. He went on to win the Michigan Open in 2007 and win the Michigan Tournament of Champions in 2013 and 2014.
His recent exploits have earned him recognition from national publications such as Golf Digest, Golf Channel, Golf Magazine, and the PGA Tour, among a variety of others. However, Ruthkoski’s ultimate goal, a regular spot on the PGA Tour, still eludes him.
“It’s nice to be able to say I was 11 under par for nine holes of golf and shot 55, but playing on the PGA Tour has always been a lifelong goal of mine,” he said. “Hopefully, this round of golf could potentially lead to more opportunities or sponsorships in the future. You never know how those things are going to work out, but this is definitely a round of golf I’ll never forget.”
Ruthkoski plans to compete for a spot at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit later this month (July 28-31) and continues to compete for PGA qualifying spots at Korn Ferry tournaments throughout the Midwest.
Regardless of his future accomplishments, the Muskegon-area golfer has already cemented his legacy with a near-perfect round of golf on a lazy Sunday afternoon at Oak Ridge Golf Course.