Merrimack’s Chelsea Sedlar ready for breakout summer on the links

Walking through the gymnasium at Bishop Guertin High School, you’ll be immediately engulfed by a wall of champions.
Up there lie the names of some of the great athletes to ever represent the school, its esteemed athletic program and its countless championship teams.

One name that stands out is Tracy Martin, who had a record-setting career as captain of the golf team. Martin continued her success at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., where she was an All-Conference player, and after graduating last year, finished off a memorable summer on the links with a New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association State Amateur championship.

Beside Martin rests the name of another up-and-comer in the local golf scene: Chelsea Sedlar. An incoming senior at BG, the 16-year-old Sedlar has admired Martin since she first started golfing competitively, and hopes to follow in her footsteps as the area’s next great women’s golfer.

“I’ve always kind of looked up to her because she’s gone through the same path I have,” Sedlar said.

Sedlar enters the 2014 junior season, starting with Thursday’s NHWGA Junior Championship at Intervale Country Club in Manchester, with high expectations following her five-stroke victory at the NHIAA state tournament at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands in Salem in October.

The NHWGA Junior Tour gives the Merrimack native a chance to not only improve her game and further establish herself throughout the state, but it also takes her back to the local courses where her competitive golf career began.

Late start, early success

Sedlar wasn’t born with a golf club in hand. She didn’t first learn to walk on the green. And a golf cart wasn’t her primary mode of transportation as a kid.

Golf began as just a nice hobby for Sedlar, her father and her uncle to bond over once a week when she was in eighth grade.

“It didn’t start off as a serious game for me,” she said. “It started off as fun.”

But after attending a few casual golf camps and developing a feel for the game, Sedlar’s hobby quickly turned into a passion.

She started competing in high school and state tournaments as a freshman. And in just two years, she’s become a state champion who’s competed in national junior tournaments.

“She’s really mature, and she’s got a great work ethic,” BG coach Paul Rousseau said. “She practices all the time, and she wants to get better and better. She’s willing to put the time in.”

Calling golf a year-round commitment for Sedlar is no hyperbole. She said she practices about six days a week, and in the winter, she uses an indoor facility in Massachusetts with a driving range and putting green. She also sees a swing coach and has regular meetings with sports psychology consultant and Boston University professor Adam Naylor, who she said helps mentally prepare her for tournament play.

“I’ve always been told if you’re not nervous then you don’t care. I get nervous a lot over big situations,” Sedlar said. She said the meetings with Naylor have helped her stayed composed in the biggest situations. It proved useful last fall when she calmly completed the 18th hole at states, which she considered the defining moment of her career thus far.

Sedlar is also trying to improve the technical aspect of her game. She said she has a “unique swing” because she started playing at a later age. She said her shoulders fold inward and her head stays back during her swing, but she’s working on opening her shoulders and getting her hands forward and onto the ball.

“It doesn’t affect the swing too much, it’s mainly for looks,” she said. “But if I can learn to do that then that gives me another five yards.”

And if that’s not enough, Sedlar spent the last three weeks at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., working on things such as ball contact and tournament preparation for 12 hours a day before returning home last Thursday.

“It’s really helped my game a lot so I’m looking forward to starting in tournaments up here now that I’m home and improving my game so my scores improve,” she said.

The next goal

Thursday’s event is just the start of what Sedlar hopes will be a fruitful next few months as she tries to get noticed by colleges and continue on a similar path to Martin. She said she’s been trying to mirror Martin’s success even before she first met her.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best I can possibly be,” Sedlar said.

So far, she’s off to a good start.

Sedlar said she’s been talking to numerous colleges throughout the country, but stressed the importance of academics in her choice. She’s said she’s hoping to have a decision by the early signing period next fall.

Like Martin, Sedlar has the success on the links to fulfill that dream.

The wall in the Bishop Guertin gymnasium is there as permanent evidence.