No turning back: life in full swing

Q&A with Max Sekulic, Pro Golf Athlete

No turning back: life in full swing
Max Sekulic

Max Seckulic has won many golf tournaments. But one championship conquest, in particular, stood out to him as the most memorable of all: that of the 116th Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in 2021. “It’s my national amateur. I get to say I’m a national champion,” he told The Central Peace Signal. Not only that. In 2021, he was at the tail-end of his amateur career and was making a decision on whether or not he should go ahead and play professional golf. His phenomenal finish that year not only did “open a world of possibilities” for him, he said, it also “made turning professional a reality.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Growing up, did you play other sports as well other than golf?
I played hockey up until I was 17. I played in Spirit River for the A-level teams. I enjoyed playing hockey a lot. I played basketball as well, and that was a lot of fun too. With an individual sport, it’s easier for me to sleep at night if I knew I was in complete control of the game’s outcomes. I was always fine with completely making a fool of myself if it’s just me. The team sport, I think, helped me to become more well-rounded in my thinking as an athlete. In team sports, you rely on others and you make sacrifices for others. Learning to do that is important as well. There’s a bit of selflessness in team sports, and I’m glad I did that. But it was through playing team sports I learned that I like an individual sport a little more.

Talk a little bit about what’s on your immediate horizon – say, in the next few months or next couple of years.
I will be trying out for a few tours, including the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour in the United States, and the Asian Tour, which operates in the Middle East and Asia and a little bit of Europe. My goal is to try and make both those tours. If I don’t make those tours, then I’m going to South America again next March. My general focus is to keep playing golf and keep winning. I like the mentality of playing to win, practicing to win, improving to win. Long term, my goal is to be on the PGA Tour – play in the best tournaments and against the best players in the world. And one of that would be to play in the Canadian Open again next year – that’s just a specific goal that I have.

What has been your greatest challenge as a professional golf athlete?
I would say the greatest challenge is to just keep getting better every day. That’s very cliche, I know, but it’s true that you have to think long term enough to keep yourself motivated every day, keep getting better, and keep finding ways to enjoy the game. I believe a lot in the quote, “Most people underestimate what they can do in a year, and overestimate what they can do in a day.” Sometimes, it’s a challenge to keep that in perspective. Some people want instant success. But success is often the result of getting better incrementally and keeping at it every day. Then there’s also the challenge – which came with being a pro golf athlete – to keep playing well to make money, travel and play. Having said that, I embrace the challenge; in fact, I don’t see much of what I do as a challenge.

No turning back: life in full swing
Max Sekulic shot a 17-under to win the 116th Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in 2021. He adds his name to a list of notable Canadian Men’s Amateur champions to hoist the Earl Grey Cup, among them, PGA Tour winner and Olympian Mackenzie Hughes (2011-2012), PGA Tour winner Nick Taylor (2007), and Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member Moe Norman (1955-1956).

What were some of your successes in golf that you consider your most memorable?
The one dearest to me is winning the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship in 2021. It’s my national amateur. I get to say I’m a national champion. And it came right at the tail-end of my amateur golf career, right when I had to make a decision if I was going to play professional golf. That win opened up a world of possibilities for me: I was going to make the Canadian amateur team and the young Pro team. I was going to play the Canadian Open.

Over the years, you must have had the best coaches in the game. What were some of the qualities of the best coaches you’ve worked with?
The best coaches in the world typically are the best observers. That’s one quality common among the great coaches I’ve worked with. They let you act in the moment and make mistakes then deal with those mistakes after. They’re also generally just good people. You enjoy being around them, and you appreciate their perspective and what they have to say. That doesn’t mean you agree with them all the time. I don’t think there’s a person in the world you can always agree with. Yogi Berra, who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball and went on to take on managerial and coaching roles for the New York Yankees, comes to mind. He had co-written a book titled, “You Can Observe a Lot by Watching.”

You want people in your corner who do challenge you, who will say what’s needed to be said. Those conversations can be hard sometimes, but you can never shy away from that.

What would you consider your top priorities right now?
Taking care of my body is No. 1 in my priorities. I can only do what my body allows me to. Secondly, I like to have an even-keeled and balanced frame of mind. I like to take things more relaxed. After that, my next priority would be the game of golf itself – areas I’m working to improve on all the while having fun playing. Another big priority for me would be the people around me, the people who helped me do what I do – family, friends, sponsors, national teammates, coaches – keeping in touch with them.

Would you say then that 2021 was your most-successful season?
Not really. I think I’ve played better golf at the professional level. I would say it was my breakthrough year; it was probably the most crucial year for me to perform well because I was in my final year as an amateur. And then I played phenomenal that year; it made turning professional a reality.

What advice would you give to kids in our area who are trying to carve a path of success for themselves in their chosen sport?
The one thing I learned as an athlete from our area was that when you go out there and start excelling, you will run into players who are better than you. You have to trust that, with time, you will improve at a greater rate than they do. Growing up, I was the only kid in the area in my age group that golfed, and I constantly ran into players who were better than me. But I always believed in my ability to improve. Where you are right now isn’t where you’re going to be in a few years if you keep at it. You can always improve incrementally. And while others are standing around comparing themselves to others, you can just focus on yourself and strive at improving.

What does your daily routine look like during your golf season?
I like to start things early. My mornings usually start at 6-7 regardless of what time I tee off. I usually have my workout before breakfast, then I head off to the course to play or practice, whatever the case may be. I usually have a small workout before dinner and bedtime. My daily routine varies, depending on where I’m at.

If you had to choose one area in your game that you’d like to improve on, what would that be?
It would be my putting. I need to make more short putts. That’s something I’ve been working on recently. I need to be a better putter. I also probably need to hit wedges better. These are the two areas I need to improve on to play at higher levels.

And what would you say is your strength?
My driving: I can drive with the best of them.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank my mom and dad, who were all about me pursuing my dreams as a kid. I realize that can be hard because there’s not a lot of golf competitions in our area. I had to go to Calgary and Edmonton a lot. So, we had a lot of days on the road, and they were always there to support me.

I received a lot of help along the way from all the coaches and instructors I’ve worked with – from when I was a kid with a long-term goal of playing professional golf and playing at the highest level, to the Canadian national team, to the Washington State University. Truly, the saying, “it takes a village . . . ” aptly applies in my golf life.

About Max Sekulic

  • Born on July 28, 1999 and raised in Rycroft
  • Parents: Nick and Caroline Sekulic
  • Post-Secondary: Washington State University // Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences — Graduated Magna Cum Laude in Spring 2022
  • Turned Pro: 2022
  • Notable Wins
  • Champion – Visit Stockton Pacific Invite (NCAA)
  • Champion – 2021 Northwest Open Invitational (pro)
  • Champion – 2021 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship
  • Champion – 2021 PGA Pacific Northwest Open (pro)
  • Champion – 2020 Saguaro Amateur
  • Champion – 2020 Alberta Match Play Championship