CLEWISTON — Tim Pruitt and Mateo Jimenez have high hopes for the Ahfachkee School golf program.
The coaches — Pruitt is the head coach and Jimenez is the assistant — look at the 2018 season as a building block to growing the program, one they envision will have a full varsity and perhaps a JV team in the years to come.
The school had some golfers a few years ago, but didn’t have anyone play recently until seventh-grader Dyami Koenes came out for the team this fall. Coaches are optimistic more kids will join the team next season once a few hiccups are ironed out.
“We had plenty of kids who had interest (in playing) this year. We had a problem getting the physicals in and transportation because some of the kids are from the Immokalee area and we don’t have transportation after practices and games,” Pruitt said. “We hope next year that we’ll have transportation from Immokalee so that they’re able to come. Next year our goal is to have a whole team, four players at least and maybe even eight so we could have a JV and a varsity team. We really want to build a strong program.”
Pruitt noted that a few girls are among those who expressed interest in playing this season. He said ideally the school would have enough kids to have both a boys and girls team someday.
As for this season, both coaches praised Koenes for the improvement he made from the start of the season right to the end when he shot a season-best 59 at the nine-hole Hendry County tournament Oct. 17 at Clewiston Country Club. Koenes’ round included a par on the opening hole. In his other tournaments, he shot in the high 60s.
Jimenez has worked with Koenes on all aspects of his game.
“The best part of his game is his short game, his chipping. From inside 50 yards, he’s real good. His putting has improved tremendously,” Jimenez said.
“He’s improved a lot this year,” Pruitt added. “He’s only in middle school and he’s playing against high school varsity players. So it’s a seventh-grader versus 10th, 11th and 12th-graders. He plays all their top players.”
With five more years of scholastic golf ahead of him, Koenes, who is new to the sport, has plenty of time to work on lowering his score and perhaps will even have some teammates in the near future.
“You have to start somewhere,” Pruitt said. “We’ve really enjoyed it this year.”