Some of area’s best aided by mind performance coach
Glenbrook North's Nick Hardy puts his ball away as officials call the Class 3A boys golf state tournament becasue of inclement weather Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington. Hardy is one of several area golfers who has worked with mind performan
Updated: October 20, 2012 7:26PM
Not that long ago, Glenbrook North senior Jon Goldstein considered giving up golf.
Or at least playing competitively.
Goldstein couldn’t stand to see himself card the scores he was shooting. The tipping point came in June at the Illinois State Junior Amateur Championship. At Makray Memorial in Barrington, Goldstein posted 86-83 to miss the cut by eight strokes.
“Something needed to happen,’’ Goldstein said. “Once I made a bad shot or had a bad hole, it was over for me. Then, I’d go get a lesson, and the teacher would say everything is fine. I didn’t know what my problem was.
“I thought it had to be a mental thing.”
Goldstein heard about a mind performance coach from teammate Nick Jan, who had been employing one since last high school golf season. Goldstein got in touch with Jon Sielsky a couple of weeks after the state junior amateurs, and the two enjoyed a long conversation.
A little more than a month later, Goldstein tied for second at the Midwest Junior Players Championship in Bloomingdale with rounds of 70-68-73.
“Jon’s father called me and wanted to get Jon some help,” said Bob Jan, Nick’s father. “Jon was ready to give up the game. I recommended he talk to Jon (Sielsky). (Sielsky) will help Jon mentally prepare.”
Goldstein reflected on his turnaround Saturday at the Class 3A tournament at The Den at Fox Creek. Despite Goldstein’s disappointment with Friday’s 81 and the team’s fourth-place finish, he was thankful for the opportunity to be playing in Bloomington on the final weekend of the season.
“Not a chance I would be here without Jon Sielsky,” Goldstein said. “After the state amateur, I wondered why I was playing golf. It all changed for me after talking to him.”
A 1986 graduate of Glenbrook North, Sielsky’s been involved with mental management for nearly five years and is now based in Charlotte, N.C. Seven of his clients, including Jan and Goldstein, played at the state tournament. Glenbrook North junior Nick Hardy, who tied for ninth following a 75, Glenbrook North senior Harrison Marick, Stevenson seniors Jack Spellman and Reed Aren and Loyola junior Michael Abrahamson have worked with Sielsky.
“I started right after tryouts,” said Spellman, who tied for 46th with an 80 in his first state tournament. “I was not in a good mental state. I am now more confident on the golf course and more consistent in my approach. I am better at keeping my composure, and I am more focused on the golf course.”
Aren tied for 14th this season after tying for 16th as a junior.
Sielsky also played at the state tournament in high school before going on to play at Florida Southern, a highly successful Division II program that has won 12 national titles and produced PGA Tour players such as Lee Janzen and Rocco Mediate. Sielsky’s exposure to those players opened his eyes to another way of thinking about the game.
“You have to stay in the present, but you also have to be able to turn your concentration on and off,” said Sielsky, who also has tutored U.S. Junior Amateur champion Andy Shim, a senior from Duluth, Ga. “I want the players to keep things simple and basic out there. We also have a tendency to intensify the negatives.
“One thing I remember more than anything is when Rocco was talking about how some of his best rounds started with a bogey. Now, when I bogey the first hole, I think about that.”
Bob Jan has seen the progress his son has made in the game, some of it thanks to Sielsky’s methods. Nick Jan has parlayed his successes in golf into a scholarship at Ohio State, where Jack Nicklaus once played.
“I saw the improvements right away,” said Bob Jan, who’s known Sielsky for more than 20 years. “Jon was preparing Nick’s mind to play golf. That’s something a very small group of junior players do.”
A lot has changed for Goldstein since he almost buried his golf game in Barrington. He was a major contributor to eight tournament titles this season and helped established the Spartans as a championship contender in the state.
Instead of becoming a weekend warrior in college, Goldstein now wants to play competitively for at least four more years.
“I couldn’t believe what happened to me,” he said. “After talking to (Sielsky) for the first time, I was just hoping to make the cut. But I saw so much improvement in my game. It was all in my head.” ~.