When Luke Ruffing of Maranacook sets a goal, he usually attains it. Ruffing set a goal of winning the Class B state golf championship and realized it.
He’s his toughest critic. That’s apparent when watching him play and the intensity he brings.
After finishing second in the Maine Junior Amateur last August, Ruffing set his sights on the schoolboy championship.
He had finished in second place for his sophomore and junior seasons.
Ruffing figured he was headed for another second-place finish last month at Natanis in Vassalboro. He was 3-over par late in his round and gave himself a little pep talk.
“Unless I do something quick, I’m going to be second again,” Ruffing said to himself that day.
Ruffing answered the call with four straight birdies to get to 1 under and a winning score of 71. A week earlier, Ruffing shot the same score in the state team championship.
Ruffing, who also was undefeated with one tie in regular-season matches, is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year.
As an example of his focus, Ruffing joined Natanis, which has held the schoolboy tournament since the 1980s, prior to his freshman year to get accustomed to the 36-hole layout. Ruffing lives minutes from the Augusta Country Club in Manchester; Natanis, in Vassalboro, is more than 10 miles away.
“You always play better on your home course,” said Ruffing. “The Browne family, which owns the course, are great. They’re very supportive of junior golf. All the people at the course are so nice.”
To get ready for the team and individual states, Ruffing spent extra time practicing. Augusta is Maranacook’s home course so Ruffing did most of his tuning up there.
“I would show up an hour and a half before I played to chip and putt,” said Ruffing, who is home-schooled. “Then I would play 18. I wanted to get my short game as strong as possible because that’s where you can save strokes. I feel my improvement in my short game is the reason I won. The added practice made the difference.”
Ruffing said he plays his best when he’s a little angry.
“Luke is the most competitive player I’ve coached,” said Coach Ryan Meserve of Maranacook. “He sets high standards and never goes into a match that he doesn’t think he can’t win.
“Luke has improved every year. He can make almost any shot on the course. He’s not a big kid but he’s added distance on his drives every year. He hits it out there with the best of them. He’s going to be a huge loss for our team.”
Prior to his freshman year, Ruffing played soccer, basketball and baseball.
“In the fall I had to pick soccer or golf. Golf is something I love to do,” he said.
“I got the No. 1 spot on the golf team my freshman year. I told myself that I didn’t want to relinquish it and worked hard to keep it.”
Ruffing still plays baseball and is a second baseman for the Black Bears.
“I can’t get started as soon as I want with golf in the spring, but I still enjoy baseball and the team aspect,” he said.
Last summer, competing against the best players in the state, Ruffing made it to the semifinals of the Maine State Golf Association’s Match Play Championship, where he lost to Joe Walp, 3 and 2.
Ruffing also played in his first Maine Amateur where he made the 36-hole cut.
Ruffing is young for his senior class. He won’t turn 18 until next August, which means he can still play in the Maine Junior Amateur.
It’s a goal to win it and Ruffing has shown what happens when he sets a goal.
Ruffing hasn’t decided what he would like to do next year after his graduation from Maranacook.
“I think I want to take a year off from school, get a job and work on my game,” he said.
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: