After every round, San Benito High seniors Nick Wells and Andrew Hoefling compare scores while reviewing their rounds. The friends push each other to improve daily, whether it’s in the matches or during practice. Wells and Hoefling are the top two players in the Haybalers’ lineup, and both of them have goals of having a top-tier finish in the Monterey Bay League tournament in hopes of qualifying for the Central Coast Section tournament.
Through last week, Wells’ best round consisted of an 83 over 18 holes and 37 over 9 holes, while Hoefling has a personal-best 84 over 18 and 39 over 9 holes. Wells was the team’s No. 3 player and Hoefling the No. 4/5 player in the lineup a season ago. Both players work at San Juan Oaks, the place where they also hone their game.
“I’ve improved a lot over the past year,” Hoefling said. “From the end of last golf season to the beginning of this season, I was working out to improve my game.”
Wells acknowledged he and Hoefling have a responsibility as the top players on the team to set a good example in practice and help the less experienced players with their respective games.
“During practice we try to help the new freshmen who will have the future spots in our program,” Wells said.
The San Benito team also includes Dawson Biersdorff, Brian Plemmons, Brady Figone-Gallagher, Brandin Mulcahy, Christian Puccinelli and Austin Wilson. Hoefling and Wells have different strengths on the course. Wells is potent off the tee—“He can drive it a mile,” Hoefling said—while Hoefling has an excellent short game that allows him to score well.
“My chip shots around the green and my putting is what I do best,” Hoefling said. “I’ve got at least 20 pounds on Nick, but he hits the ball crazy far. But I like to say I can get the ball closer to the hole most of the time.”
Friendly competition drives both players, and Wells loves playing a team like Palma, which has upwards of five players capable of shooting a sub-40 round in the same match.
“You learn a lot playing with those kind of people,” Wells said. “Playing with them makes me better and puts pressure on me to feel the need to put more work in.”
Wells was utterly delighted when he got to meet golf greats Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in the AT&T Pebble Bach Pro-Am in February. Wells, who was carrying mini scoreboard signs for the players on the penultimate day of the tournament, had a short interaction with a future PGA Tour Hall of Fame player in Mickelson and a player who has the potential to win 10 or more majors in McIlroy.
“I got to meet with them and talk a little bit,” Wells said. “I couldn’t believe it—it was so surreal.”
Hoefling and Wells both have lofty goals outside of golf—Hoefling plans on being a sports data analyst and Wells in the realm of aerospace engineering and physics—but before that happens, they would love nothing more than to play golf in college. Hoefling will attend Chico State and will explore his options there, while Hoefling said, “There is a strong possibility I will play golf in college.”
Whatever happens, the two have thoroughly enjoyed their time together in high school.
“We’ve got a similar drive to play a lot and always wanting to get better,” Wells said. “The competition is always fun and super friendly.”
Hoefling and Wells have worked tirelessly honing their games at San Juan Oaks. Wells credits Balers coach Reggie Synegal and San Juan Oaks Director of Golf Manny Freitas for helping him with the technical aspects of his swing and overall game. Hoefling actually lives 5 minutes away from San Juan Oaks, and his dad took him to the course when he was 8 or 9 years old.
“But I didn’t take things seriously until high school,” Hoefling said.
After gradual improvement from his freshman to sophomore year, Hoefling’s game started to take off as a junior and now as a senior. Wells is also at the top of his game, a byproduct of hitting balls for hours at a time five to six times a week. For Hoefling and Wells, hard work has paid off, and their scores reflect it.