Kyle Ringhofer grew up with a nine-hole putting green in the basement and rolled golf balls toward the holes before he could walk.
At age 4, he first swung clubs at a driving range. At 6, he played in his first tournament. He won regional events at 9 and 11 and earned trips to national tournaments.
Ringhofer, a junior at Mounds View, admitted his gaudy golf résumé got to his head. But he found perspective last summer though injury and selfless actions.
In June he tore his ACL and meniscus. Throughout the month of July, he volunteered at a Christian youth camp. Those experiences changed his outlook on golf and life.
Ringhofer started with a flourish this season, winning three of his team's first four matches and earning a top-10 individual ranking in Class 3A.
He wears a bracelet that reads "In Jesus's name I play" and uses a ball marker coin inscribed with the words: "With God all things are possible."
"His faith is very important to him," Mustangs coach Joe Voeller said. "He's just a fun, carefree kid who works hard but keeps things in perspective."
Ringhofer spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about faith, swinging his way out of jams and two state tournament near-misses.
Q In what ways did working the Christian youth camp help you gain perspective?
A When I was volunteering at camp it was kind of humbling. I was on housekeeping duties. I cleaned toilets and swept and did all of the dirty work at camp. You don't get much recognition for any of that work, I guess you could say. Before that, whenever I was playing golf I felt like I was playing to get recognition for myself. I was good last year and had about the same ability but I was just out there with a different mindset, like golf was the thing for me.
Q What impact did your knee injury have on your state of mind?
A When I tore my ACL and meniscus, I couldn't play and I was struggling to figure out what to do. Now I put God first. Obviously golf is fun for me and I enjoy playing it, but it's not the most important thing in my life.
Q Your coach, Joe Voeller, said you have a lot of Bubba Watson's game in you, meaning you will invent crazy shots to get out of tough situations.
A I feel like I visualize shots better when I get in trouble. It's almost more fun to get in a little trouble sometimes because then you can create some crazy shot to get out of it. A lot of times in the past I'd go to the negative. Now I feel like I can pull off a shot and have a chance at a birdie.
Q Voeller also called you an unbelievable putter, which makes sense given your secret weapon in the basement.
A [Laughs] Yeah, it really does help to be able to go down there over the winter. That helps you get up and down for par when you're scrambling.
Q How close have you been to the state tournament?
A My freshman year I shot a 76 at sections and 75 was the cutoff. Last year I birdied the last hole to get into a five-man playoff. It was down to me and another guy on the third hole and I bogeyed and he made par.