You might say Juan Jimenez grew up on the golf course.
From the age of eight, his father would take him out to the course where he would hone his skills, all while the two of them forged a strong father-son bond. “My dad actually cut me my first set of clubs,” Jimenez recalled. “Back then they didn’t have youth clubs, so he took a men’s set and cut them down to my size.”
Today, the duo has come full circle.
In January, Jimenez took over the reins of the Artesia Country Club as golf pro, a job he never envisioned having as a child or even a young adult. “I wanted to become a doctor,” he admitted. “I’ve always loved biology, and I just thought I’d go to medical school and become a doctor. I never dreamed I’d be doing this instead!”
A 1996 graduate of Artesia High School, where he played varsity football and golf, Jimenez went on to attend Western New Mexico University in Silver City on a golf scholarship. After two years, he transferred to Texas Tech University to continue his education.
“When I moved back here, I went to work at the Wellhead (Restaurant and Brew Pub) for a little while and then Joe (Smith) offered me the assistant pro job here at the Country Club,” he said. “I had initially just planned on working through the summer, but then I got into the golf program and pretty much decided to make a career of it.”
Not to be taken lightly, the “golf program” Jimenez completed isn’t just your run-of-the-mill program offered at a local community college. In fact, it is the premier program in the nation for golfing professionals – the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA).
“It took me about four years to complete the program,” he said. “And I still have to do continuing education classes and we get points toward our certification.” Because the program was based out of Florida at the time he participated, Jimenez said he had to fly to the Sunshine State each time he was required to “test out.” All together he made three trips.
Currently, Jimenez holds an A-1 certification with the PGA, which means he is classified as a head professional for a PGA recognized golf course.
“It was a lot of work but I’m glad I did it,” he said. “It has allowed me to do this for a living – really, it doesn’t even feel like work most days!”
It might not feel like work, but Jimenez logs an impressive number of hours most days at the Club to ensure everything runs like it’s supposed to. Typically, he can be found on or around the green from about 7 a.m. to sunset, however long that might be. An average day consists of planning and organizing golf tournaments and scrambles, manning the Pro Shop and all its inventory and general oversight of the golf course and several employees, including his father.
“My dad retired from the State (of New Mexico) last year and now he works out here with me doing pretty much whatever I need help with,” Jimenez said. “It’s been nice to have him around, helping out.”
It turns out, the Jimenez family has made running the golf course and pro shop a family affair. His wife, Peggy Jo, quit her job and went to work at the pro shop part-time as well, and she oftentimes brings with her the couple’s daughter, Karsyn, who is almost a year old. “My wife comes out and helps with the books and she does a lot of the ordering,” he added, which, according to long-time pro shop employee Jeanie Estrada is why the shop has so many nice women’s items in stock now.
“She really has a good eye for things and has gotten in some nice women’s apparel,” Estrada said. “Between the two of them, they have really updated the pro shop and people seem to be very pleased with what we offer now.”
Avid golfer and long-time Country Club member Michael Wadkins agrees and said he thinks Jimenez has been a good fit all around for the local golf course. “So far Juan has been a great choice as head golf pro at the Artesia Country Club,” said Wadkins.”He has implemented some new technology that is making things easier on his staff, as well as the members, and his personality is a perfect match for the position of head golf pro. I think, overall, people seem to be very pleased with his work.”
And why wouldn’t they be! Course tournaments and scrambles are now running more smoothly than ever, thanks to the new computer system Jimenez implemented earlier this year. Now, rather than waiting on someone to manually update a score board by hand, players can see results immediately on a computer screen outside the pro shop once Jimenez plugs the information into the computer.
He has also added computers to the pro shop, which has made inventory and bookkeeping much easier.
“Before, everything was done by hand and things just took longer,” Jimenez noted. “Now, we are able to do things more quickly and more efficiently with the use of computers and special programs.”
Back to the sport at hand! There are two things that Jimenez said draws him to the game of golf, and the same can likely be said for most golf aficionados. One is that it can be played whether you’re 8 or 80! “It’s not really as physically demanding as most sports, so people of all ages can play,” he said. “And really, it’s 90 percent mental and only about 10 percent physical ability, which can actually be very difficult sometimes. Momentum can change in a heartbeat!”
The second thing he said he likes about the game of golf is that it’s a “gentleman’s game.”
“There are no officials and you have to call your own shots,” he said. “If you screw up, you have to be honest enough to penalize yourself.”
He continued, “There are a lot of things about golf that I like and that I think people in general like about the game as well. I’m fortunate to get to do this for a living. I can’t imagine doing anything else now.”
In addition to golf, Jimenez also has a passion for hunting, with a preference for bows. “I do a lot of hunting, mostly deer and elk, but I like to go bow hunting; it’s just more fun to me (than hunting with a gun),” he said. Like his job at the Country Club, Jimenez said hunting, too, is a family affair. “My son, Gage, went with me this year and he is actually the one that spotted my 10-point,” the proud dad said. “Hunting is something else that we do as a family; my wife goes with me most of the time.”
Having been married for more than eight years, Jimenez credits his wife with helping him shape his career as a golf pro. “I couldn’t do this without her support and my family,” he admitted.