Zach Ayom tees it up for himself

Monache’s Zach Ayom hits the ball at Tulare Golf Course earlier this month.(Kason Clark)

Monache golfer holds first place in the East Yosemite League despite less than three years of experience of playing golf; Ayom aims to qualify for the Central Valley tournament in his senior season

PORTERVILLE – Zach Ayom has had a quick ascent to the top of the East Yosemite League. Unlike most of the top high school golfers, the Monache senior did not take up the sport until a couple years ago. He only got into golf because he started playing with some friends, but quickly fell in love with the sport and took it upon himself to learn how to play the game.

“I haven’t had a single lesson, just little pointers from people here and there,” Ayom said. “I just used that and just adapted off of it and it just worked for me.”

Ayom joined the Monache golf program in the summer right before his junior year. That was when Shane Focke took over as the head coach of the Marauders. Despite Ayom’s inexperience when compared to his teammates and other top golfers, Focke was impressed by how far along Ayom was in the sport.

“He was heads and shoulders above where I thought a golfer with his experience should have been,” Focke said. “I was immediately impressed with where he was as far as his overall game. He hit drives well, he had a good short game and he putted really well.”

As he has learned the game, Ayom has continued to improve as he now competes during his senior season. So far this year, he’s led the East Yosemite League and is averaging 79.5. And after all the hard work he’s put in over the past couple years, the results are now bearing fruit for Ayom.

“When you put in the time and effort, golf repays you with good play,” Focke said. “He’s put himself in a position now where our entire team is going to lean on him putting up really good scores week in and week out.”

Ayom’s improvement has helped the Marauders compete in the East Yosemite League this season. In both of the first two meets in league play, Monache finished second behind Redwood. Focke credits Ayom as a key factor in the Marauder’s success this season. Along with his scores, Focke said he believes Ayom’s strong play and determination inspires his teammates to work hard and perform well.

“It’s a great standard to set for kids to come in and see this is what they need to get to,” Focke said. “Zach’s not only doing his job as a golfer for the team, but as a leader and a captain.”

Along with Ayom, Focke expects golfers such as Landon Willis, Trayce Hornsby and John Rosa to compete to qualify for the Central Valley tournament. While he has performed well to start his senior season, Ayom is looking to continue improving so he can qualify for the tournament and end his high school career strong.

“I definitely want to finish out strong. There’s a lot of competition out here so I’m going to try to hold on to that first-place spot for our league,” Ayom said. “I definitely have to lower down my scores if I want to have a chance here.”

As he has improved over the years, Ayom has been fueled by his commitment and love for the game. Even though the Marauders did not practice over the summers, Ayom himself would head over to the golf course as much as possible to practice and perfect his craft.

“He doesn’t settle for just being okay. He wants to be the best across the board,” Focke said. “He is constantly playing and totally dedicated to just being a better golfer.”

While it probably should have taken him much longer to catch up to the competition, Ayom was driven to success by his support staff and himself. Despite some hazards along the way, Ayom has embraced overcoming them to become the golfer he is now.

Monache’s Zach Ayom lines up a put in a tournament at the Tulare Golf Course earlier this month. (Kason Clark)

“I want to push myself out there and my friends and family have encouraged me to push me past my limits,” Ayom said. “And my coaches have been supportive and they always want what’s best for me.”

On par with his success in golf, Ayom has also succeeded in other endeavors. Ayom enjoys welding in his free time and has participated in welding competitions. Last year, he competed in SkillsUSA where he got first place in state. As the California representative, Ayom traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to compete on a national level.

In both golf and welding, Ayom has been successful in beating out his competition. But at the end of the day, Ayom is driven more by perfecting his craft than beating others.

“I just took it at my own pace and I put in my own time to just satisfy myself,” Ayom said. “I’m never the type to really think about other people in a bad way. I just like to stay in my own lane and respect their own teachings and skills.”

When this season is over, Ayom hopes that he can get a scholarship or can walk on to play golf in college. If he does get that opportunity, Focke believes Ayom will continue to improve and excel at the next level.

“Any coach that has Zach on their golf team or trying to become a member of that golf team would be lucky,” Focke said. “Any coach that was going to get him next year, his ability athletically and his ability mentally to not let things faze him and then his overall coachability would be fantastic.”

But even if the opportunity to play collegiate golf does not come through, golf will be something that will always be there for Ayom.

“When I started golf, I knew it was going to be a thing I do for the rest of my life,” Ayom said. “I just fell in love with it and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.”

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