It’s all golf, all the time for Seth Sweet.

In other words, just the way the 26-year-old Madison native likes it.

Sweet’s in his fourth full year as a professional golfer based in South Carolina, where his career has taken on two prongs. One is as a player, looking for high-end tournaments, state opens and national qualifiers to enter and further a career that Sweet said is still progressing.

The other is as a teacher. After three years as a playing pro at Secession Golf Club in Beaufort, Sweet moved at the start of this month to Chechessee Creek Club in Okatie, a short drive from Hilton Head. There he’s the assistant pro, where he gives lessons and helps guide other players in addition to representing the club in tournament play.

The job and location allow Sweet to be around the sport at all times, which for someone who first grew up in, and then conquered the Maine golf scene, is a perfect situation.

Seth Sweet tees off at Sunday River on the final hole of the 2012 Maine Amateur Championship at Sunday River Golf Club. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“It’s really incredible. I don’t feel the stress of being up in Maine and (thinking) ‘It’s raining today, I’ve got to go out and hit balls because we’ve got five months to play golf,'” said Sweet, who won two state individual titles at Madison before winning the Maine Am in 2012. “I’ve been able to take my game gradually to another level without that layoff that’s obviously going to influence your game a lot.”

One of the facets that drew him to the job at Chechessee was that the club wanted him playing. Some courses look for their pros to primarily run the shop and serve the members, but Chechessee, as Secession did, wants him to represent the club in competition. The course helps Sweet with some of the entry fees, and benefits from having one of its own play well. While COVID-19 has limited play this summer, Sweet said he averages around 10 tournaments a year, and won the Hilton Head Open last season.

“I have to be at a place that’s going to allow me to play golf,” he said. “I still love to play golf and compete. There’s nothing better than competing in golf, for me.”

Seth Sweet putts onto a green during the first day of the 2015 Maine Amateur at the Augusta Country Club in Manchester. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file photo

Sweet still eyes big things as a player. Q School (the hyper-competitive qualifying tournaments for a PGA Tour card) is on the radar, and at 26 there is still time for his career to take off. The key is for his game to have room to grow, and Sweet feels his does.

“I think my best golf’s still way ahead of me,” he said. “…As of right now, I don’t think my game’s quite good enough to go and put all that money up and really commit to it yet. Once I show myself a little bit better showings here, which I think is right around the corner, I might be ready to go and give it a shot.”

Mike Harmon, a former PGA Tour player and the longtime director of golf at Secession before retiring this year, got to know Sweet well, and liked what he saw.

“He’s a very strong player. Hits the ball long, drives his ball really well,” he said. “Good, sound fundamentals, so he’s going to hit a lot of greens. … His fundamentals are so sound, he’s pretty much going to hit his ball decently every day.”

Seth Sweet, left, gets a handshake from J.J. Harris at the last hole after Sweet won the 2012 Maine Amateur at Sunday River Golf Club in Newry. Gordon Chibroski / Portland Press Herald file photo

Sweet’s golf ability always came naturally, but he’s also had to teach players who don’t have the ability to shoot 67s on tournament courses. At Secession and now Chechessee, that has meant playing rounds with members looking to take their own games up a level. Sweet prefers to get on the course with his players and see them during a round, as opposed to watching them hit shot after shot on the range.

“You just have to have patience. Everyone learns differently, everyone learns at a different pace,” he said. “It’s a bit of a learning curve, getting to know your students. I’m more of a feel player, I don’t think a lot about methods or anything in my golf swing. For me to transfer something methodical to someone else who thinks that way, it just gets tough.”

The solution, Sweet said, is to keep it simple, especially with the less skilled and beginning players.

“The one thing that everybody can do like Tiger Woods is set up like Tiger Woods,” he said. “If I can teach someone to do that, it’s very, very hard to make a bad golf swing.”

Seth Sweet looks at the line as he fixes his ball mark on the 18th green in first round of the 2012 New England Amateur at Falmouth Country Club. Gordon Chibroski / Portland Press Herald file photo

With the better players, Sweet focuses on the mental side. Here, he’s in his element; Sweet saw a sports psychologist while in high school, and majored in psychology at Old Dominion University.

“The scratch golfers, the way they get better is not really through their mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s so hard when you’re out there to stay focused for four and a half, five hours. Just working on that with better players, people come in and say ‘Hey, I shot the lowest I’ve ever shot, thanks to you.’ It’s terrific to hear that.”

He’s always loved playing the game. He’s starting to like teaching it as well.

“I truly do enjoy it,” he said. “It kind of makes me feel as though I’m growing the game a little bit, and just helping people out that enjoy the game as much as I do.”

Sweet’s true home, though, is on the course with the club in his hand.

“On the golfing side, I would love to just keep up what I’m doing,” he said. “Playing in these opens, and if I start winning a couple of those, then I really start thinking about trying to take it to another level.”


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