Ruth Gravholt

Although she’s played more rounds of golf than anyone else at Fox Run Golf Course, Ruth Gravholt wasn’t always a golfer. That passion didn’t really take root until the early 90s when the course opened.

Raised in rural Utica and a 1956 graduate of Yankton High School, Gravholt worked for a time at the Human Services Center in the 1960s. It was there that she and her husband of now 56 years, Loy, would occasionally play a round at the facility’s now defunct golf course.

After raising two boys, Ruth became involved in golf again when Fox Run opened. Her oldest son, Jay, had taken up golf and he encouraged both of his parents to play a few rounds when he would come home for a visit. Although Loy and Jay don’t play much anymore, it’s a rare day when Ruth isn’t spotted out on the course playing a round or two.

“It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed, but didn’t always have the time to do,” Gravholt stated. “Once I began playing regularly, I found that golf truly was my passion.”

Anyone who’s a regular at Fox Run or on the local golf tournament circuit recognizes and has probably played a round or two with Ruth.

“I have my usual golf partners, but I’ll play with anybody,” she jokes. “It’s such a relaxing game and a great way to get to know a lot of people.”

At the young age of 77, Gravholt sports a 30 handicap and is about as consistent as anyone on the course. She may not drive the ball 200 or more yards, but you can be guaranteed it will be straight down the middle and in the fairway almost every time. “My chipping is always a project,” she laughs.

While most people associate golf with sunny, fair weather days, Ruth will go out in just about any weather condition.

“My cart is covered for those cold days and I prefer the hot temperatures, but if they’ll let me play, I’m usually out there.”

To give the reader an idea of her dedication, she was out playing a round of golf a decade ago in the middle of December.

Yankton had a record-setting winter that year with warm temperatures and golfers were allowed to play without carts. It turned out to be a December to remember.

“I was five holes from finishing the front nine when I stepped in a badger hole and hurt my ankle,” she says. “It was very painful, but I wanted to finish the round.”

Ruth played the last five holes, drove home and waited for her husband to return home. By that time, the ankle had swollen and become severely bruised.

“We drove up to Avera Sacred Heart and, sure enough, I had broken it,” she says. “It’s a good thing it happened in the winter time. That would have been tough sitting out a season for that.”

Unfortunately for Gravholt, she is currently sitting out this summer season – to a point – due to a broken wrist. “Loy and I spent the winter down in Parker, Ariz., as we do each winter, where I usually take part in a winter golf league. This year, though, I had a few setbacks and didn’t get to enjoy as much as I usually do.”

When the Gravholts returned to Yankton in March, Ruth was chomping at the bit to get out on the course. Unfortunately, Yankton experienced a very wet and cold spring. By the time the weather started cooperating in early May, she broke her wrist in sort of a freak accident. “I was so disappointed at the timing of it,” she explains. “After not getting to golf much in Arizona this winter, I was really looking forward to coming home and golfing locally. When this happened, it was quite honestly heartbreaking.”

After getting patched up by orthopedic surgeon Brent Adams, however, Ruth is nearing her return to the course. “It’s getting better every day,” she says. “I’ve been putting and have started chipping. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I can play without restrictions.” As a matter of fact, she’s already played in a tournament only being able to putt. “The game itself is magical,” she continues, “but the social aspect is also very important to me. The friendships I’ve developed have been immeasurable.”

One of those friendships includes an annual November trip to Phoenix for Gravholt and fellow golfers Barb Olson, Gail Kennedy and Connie Rucker. “We have such a good time down there,” she says. “The courses are magnificent and very challenging. They’re also very expensive. I don’t think some people realize how fortunate we are with the local prices we have for golfing and the beautiful courses we have in the area.”

So, next time you’re out on the course, look for Ruth in her yellow bug golf cart. She’ll probably even invite you to join her in a round.