GOLF

World record: How a Muskegon-area golfer shot a 55 of 17 under par

ADVERTISEMENT

Follow Josh VanDyke on Twitter

Muskegon’s Andrew Ruthkoski jumps onto the green at hole no. 1 during the US Open golf qualifier at Muskegon Country Club on May 12, 2014.

ADVERTISEMENT

MUSKEGON – It’s a Father’s Day round of golf that Andrew Ruthkoski won’t soon forget.

The 39-year-old golf pro 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 evening of June 19, but he got into the groove early with his swing and carved his name into golf folklore 18 holes later.

The Mona Shores graduate already held the course record with an 11-under par 61 in 2012, but tied his previous personal best on the front nine, where he carded four eagles, three birdies and two pars.

As daylight started to become a factor, Ruthkoski went on and birdied six more on the back nine and settled for three pars to finish his round with a 55 of 17 under par. The mark equals a world record and was only a timid stroke away from what is considered a perfect lap.

The only other golfers to record a 55 are Rhein Gibson in 2016 and Alexander Hughes in 2020. The PGA Tour record was set by Jim Furyk with a 58 in 2016.

“I always wondered if I would be able to break into the 50s at some point on this course,” Ruthkoski told MLive. “I had come close to an 11 under in 2012 and when I realized I had matched that after the first nine holes I just decided to keep playing and pick up the momentum I had. started.

“I really found a rhythm and I kept a good rhythm from start to finish. I’ve already birdied every hole on this course and I’ve probably birdied half the holes, so I’m very comfortable with this course I just started riding early and continued to trust my swing and muscle memory and continued to play throughout the course not thinking too much about what 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 hit the No. 1 hole, a par-5 for 488 yards, and added back-to-back birdies on the No. 2 and 3 before carding another eagle on hole 4, a par 5 of 526 yards.

“I felt pretty good after that start,” admitted Ruthkoski. “I just remember looking at the girls and telling them that I doubt anyone has ever started a round on this course going eagle, birdie, birdie, eagle. They didn’t really understand the meaning and just asked me why I didn’t do this all the time.

The Michigan State University grad added another eagle on hole 5 to continue his historic pace and followed that up with a birdie on hole 6 and back-to-back pars on holes 7 and 8 before capping the first nine with a birdie on the 9th hole to finish 11 under par.

Ruthkoski's record round

Andrew Ruthkoski’s scorecard during his record-breaking 17-under-par 55 round at Oak Ridge Golf Course on June 19, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Ruthkoski).

The historic round of golf was put in jeopardy as the back nine approached, however, as the evening had pushed into 8:45 p.m. Most courses require golf carts to be returned around 9 p.m., so Ruthkoski’s daughters-in-law brought back the carts, as Price tried. to convince Ruthkoski to continue the round.

Turns out he didn’t need much reassurance.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to play the back nine,” Ruthkoski said. “My buddy, Dave (Buck), lives right next to the course and has his own cart. He had watched me complete my first nine holes and offered to drive me the rest of the way, so I just kept up the pace and finished the last nine in about an hour.

Ruthkoski birdied the back nine on the 10th hole, followed by consecutive pars on the 11th and 12th holes. He chained three straight birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes before saving a par on hole 16 and finished his round with two consecutive birdies on holes 17 and 18.

As he got closer and closer to history, news of Ruthkoski’s game spread through the local golf community, as Buck posted videos of his friend’s record-breaking performance on Facebook.

“I guess Dave was getting a lot of likes and comments on his Facebook posts and a few people even considered coming to see me finish my game,” Ruthkoski said. “A friend of mine tried to get there on the 18th hole, but didn’t quite get there until we were done. It was always really cool to have that kind of support and all the texts and Facebook messages were really awesome.

Ruthkoski helped the Mona Shores men’s golf team win a Division 1 state championship in 2000 and later helped the Michigan State University men’s golf team win a Big Ten championship. He won the Michigan Open in 2007 and won 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 others. Ruthkoski’s ultimate goal – a regular spot on the PGA Tour – still eludes him, however.

“It’s nice to be able to say I was 11 under par over nine holes of golf and shot 55, but playing on the PGA Tour has always been a lifelong goal for me,” said he declared. “Hopefully this round of golf could potentially lead to more opportunities or sponsorships down the road. You never know how these things will turn out, but it’s definitely a round of golf I’ll never forget. .

Ruthkoski plans to compete for a spot in the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit later this month (July 28-31) and continues to battle 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 laid-back Sunday night at Oak Ridge Golf Course.

ADVERTISEMENT