East senior making leap to No. 1 golfer

Thomas Ruch’s progression from junior varsity player to No. 1 golfer at Columbus East has been a long journey.

To the Olympian senior, however, the four years have flown by like one of his booming drives.

“It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m already a senior,” Ruch said. “It feels like I just started playing golf yesterday for East.”

That “yesterday” would have been three years ago when Ruch was a freshman. He played in one varsity tournament that year, the rest on JV.

His sophomore year, Ruch didn’t play in any varsity tournaments. But as the No. 6 golfer, he did get to play in most of the Olympians’ dual matches.

Following that season, he went to see Jeff Smith, the teaching pro at Otter Creek.

“I knew we would have some seniors leaving, and I put in a lot of work over the summer and worked with Jeff and got my game to come around,” Ruch said. “It’s still coming around and getting better.”

Last year, Ruch was East’s No. 3 golfer behind Austin Proffitt, who now plays for St. Francis, and Derek Anderson, who is a senior this season. This year, Ruch has been the Olympians’ top golfer in all three tournaments, breaking 80 in each.

Ruch feels he has gained distance off the tee and is more consistent with his ball-striking and short game.

East coach Tom LaBarbera said Ruch has become much more consistent and has eliminated his big mistakes. He’s making far less double-bogeys, much more pars and a few more birdies.

“He’s developed quite a bit,” LaBarbera said. “He’s probably one of the least emotional young men I’ve ever coached in any sport. He’s a hard worker. He has a great positive attitude and is just a fun kid to be around.”

Ruch ranks 11th in his class with a 4.12 GPA. He plans to attend Indiana University and major in physics and maybe astronomy.

His competitive golf career nearing an end, Ruch’s goal is to help the team win the Hoosier Hills Conference and Greensburg Sectional and perform well at the Providence Regional. Today, he’ll lead the Olympians against crosstown rival Columbus North at Otter Creek.

“Individually, it’s sort of been a goal of mine since last year to be playing my best golf at the end of the year and give myself a chance to qualify for state individually,” Ruch said.

If you go

What: Columbus North at Columbus East boys golf

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Otter Creek Golf Course

Admission: Free

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.