Locals reflect on memories of Ruxer courseMay 28, 2020
BY JONATHAN SAXON
JASPER — There are a lot of feelings around town about the closure of the Alvin C. Ruxer Municipal Golf Course. The course, which opened in 1992 with land donated to the city by Alvin Ruxer, served as a gateway for new and casual golfers of all ages, and members of the golf community recalled the importance of that purpose.
“It served three different roles,” said Forest Park boys golf coach Chris Tretter. “For someone who just wanted to go out and hit some balls on a driving range, [Ruxer] provided a nice place. It served as the developmental course for young and old alike. Anybody who was new to the game could go out and start to learn some fundamentals to the game. It also served as a quick nine-hole round after work for some people. You get good exercise because it was an easily walked course.”
“Historically, a lot of people had gotten their start there,” added Brent Sternberg, a long-time youth golf advocate. “It’s an executive course, mostly par threes — a really short golf course that’s much easier for those that are starting out. Less intimidating as well.”
Missy Krempp is another youth golf advocate who played a pivotal role in introducing the Game of Kings to hundreds of youths. She recalled how Ruxer was the center of the Jasper Middle School junior golf program, which she started along with Greg Leinenbach and Bob Boyles. Krempp also partnered with Hedinger Beverage to start the Dad’s Root Beer Tour, a local event for young golfers, which ran in summers from 2009-14.
“I knew Ruxer was so perfect for the youth,” she said. “Parents feel good dropping their kids off and let them go on the golf course. We would have 60-90 kids teeing off on a Monday. We filled that course with young golfers. That is so empowering that we were able to offer that to our kids.”
Unfortunately, Ruxer could only serve its purpose if the weather allowed it. The course’s location near the Patoka River left it vulnerable to flooding, which caused it to close for extended periods in the spring and summer. It costs a lot in time and manpower to clear the course of silt and get the greens back in shape after the waters receded, and the city, unable to keep on eating the flooding expenses, decided to shut it down.
“It’s hard to sustain a program when you’re always having to reschedule,” said John Bertges, who was the director of golf at Ruxer and Buffalo Trace beginning in 2014. “You call the parents and tell them the course is flooded, and they have to wait several weeks or a month. There’s no way to get around that fact. We had the demand, but we couldn’t produce the supply.”
But that doesn’t stop others from remembering how fun it was making a run to the course when it was in good order.
“My parents would drop me off there in the summer,” said Jasper boys golf coach Caleb Begle. “I’d go up there with a couple of my buddies, we’d go play nine holes after school. That’s where I grew up learning how to play.”
“I could remember as a kid going out and playing,” added Southridge golf coach Brock Matthews. “Any of the high handicappers or the people just learning the game, it’s a great place for them to go. You could just get out there, do your own thing and not worry about pace.”
Some of the coaches found Ruxer useful for helping their players train and sharpen certain parts of their game during the spring season.
“I take my high school team over there from time to time,” Tretter said. “If we’re working on approach shots, it’s very easy to go play that course.”
“Last year we really used it,” Begle added. “We used the putting greens to chip and putt. You could play some of the shorter holes to work on different things.”
Bertges isn’t bitter about the decision to close the course, but he’s worried about whether the other Dubois County golf facilities will be able to fill the niche that Ruxer served, even with adjustments to infrastructure.
“Without replacing Ruxer with another Ruxer-type of course, there can only be a void,” he said. “There’s things that can be done to the existing courses to accommodate, but it’s never going to be like a Ruxer. Ruxer was built with that purpose.”
Others are more hopeful that the remaining courses can be tailored for beginning golfers.
“I think I already see Sultan’s Run step up their game,” Krempp said. “Even with the front nine at Buffalo, I hope we can still bring those young players to those courses and just make it more playable for them.”
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