Sometimes, Jack Whelan enjoys the mini-slumps that golf throws at him.
They don’t come along too often, but when the Topsfield resident struggles on the course it only pushes him to improve.
Whelan is now in his junior year at St. Lawrence University and is hoping to duplicate the success he had last year. A relatively slow start this fall has only increased Whelan’s focus.
Whelan was in the hunt for the individual title at this weekend’s Guy W. Kuhn Invitational hosted by Allegheny College, but he followed his first-round 73 with an 82 yesterday to fall out of contention. He finished second for St. Lawrence and 27th overall.
“There are a lot of ups and downs,” the 20-year-old Whelan said. “(Yesterday) was an ugly round and it gets you fired up to improve and do better to win a tournament — or at least have a better showing to see if we can get a win.
“It’s almost good to have one (bad round) occasionally. It makes you want to make sure you don’t have another one.”
Since arriving at St. Lawrence for the spring semester his freshman year, there have been very few ‘bad’ rounds for Whelan.
Whelan spent the first semester of freshman year at Loyola University in Maryland before transferring to St. Lawrence. He immediately made an impact and earned team MVP honors for his performance.
Last year was a record-setting season for Whelan. He won three tournaments, had six top 10 finishes and a school-record stroke average of 73.21. He set a St. Lawrence record with a low round of 66, and his 68-71-139 total in the Nazareth Tournament was also a program-best two-round score.
He finished the year with five rounds in the 60s, another St. Lawrence record. He was also named to the PING All-Region Team for the Northeast.
“I had a couple low ones last year and thought I had one (in the first round Sunday) but limped coming in,” said Whelan, who is majoring in sociology and minoring in sports studies. “I was playing pretty well, but every day is a different day in this sport.
“I’m getting close. I played real well in the Myopia club championship (this summer). That was probably the best I’ve played ever. I’m just looking for that spark.”
Whelan shot 71-79 in the St. Lawrence Collegiate Invitational, the Saints’ season-opening tournament.
The biggest thing for Whelan right now is consistency. The former Pingree star and Salem News Golfer of the Year feels it’s more about confidence, or that a mental adjustment needs to be made.
“As a team we’re just trying to do as well as we can and are still figuring out our starting five. We’re trying to get more consistent and that’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Whelan said. “A couple high scores really can hurt the team. Now we’re talking with a sports psychologist. We’re mentally frustrated and not confident. Hopefully the sports psychologist will help with that.”
It seems like it’s only a matter of time before Whelan completely returns to the form that helped him earn a place among the dozen golfers selected for the Division 3 PING All-Region Team.
“It was a pretty big honor and cool to see that, but I’m just playing as good golf as I can. Getting the award is great, but if not then so be it. I’m trying to play as well as I can,” Whelan said. “Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. It was a cool honor to have that award and just rewarding to have a good season.”