Spring Grove's Karl Frisk looks to prove he belongs at NCAA D-I level at state tournament

Spring Grove's Karl Frisk chips out of the bunker on hole nine of the York-Adams Division I golf match at South Hills Golf Club, Tuesday, September 15, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • Karl Frisk is ranked No. 180 in the American Junior Golf Association rankings.
  • Frisk has yet to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship offer.
  • Frisk will play in the PIAA Class 3-A State Championships on Tuesday at Heritage Hills in York.

These days, when Karl Frisk enters a golf tournament, it’s a pretty good bet that he will be on the first page of the leaderboard.

Whether the Spring Grove High School senior is playing in York-Adams League events or on the American Junior Golf Association circuit, Frisk has shown he can post low numbers on any course. In AJGA tournaments this summer, Frisk finished as a runner-up and posted top-10 and top-15 finishes. There is one difference between Frisk and the other top youth golfers in the country — interest from NCAA Division I schools.

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“I just have to keep playing good golf wherever I go because I have been dealing with that for a while now,” Frisk said. “I have the same skill level or better than kids that are going to big schools, but I’m not getting any looks from them.”

Frisk showed that ability recently against one of the state’s top golfers in the District 3 Class 3-A Tournament. Carlisle senior John Peters, a Duke University recruit ranked No. 85 in the AJGA rankings, beat Frisk in a playoff to take the district title.

Last year, Frisk finished fourth at the district event, won by Central York High grad and Auburn University golfer Carson Bacha. Frisk lost the 2019 York-Adams League Championship to Bacha in a playoff as well after he shot an 8-under 64 at Briarwood East. Bacha went on to win the state title, while Frisk finished tied for 18th at the state event. Frisk also posted a sizzling 10-under-par 61 at South Hills Golf Club near Hanover in a league event last year.

So Frisk has shown the ability to go low. He hopes to go low again during Tuesday's PIAA Class 3-A State Championship at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York County.

Central York's Carson Bacha hits from the edge of the green during the York-Adams Individual Golf Championships at Briarwood Golf Club Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

Bacha impressed with Frisk: For the past two years, Frisk has joined Bacha in Florida for a week during the winter to golf, and the former Central York standout has been impressed by Frisk’s maturity with the mental side of the game.

“He’s started to handle himself a little better,” Bacha said. “In the past, he might beat himself up after missing a few putts here and there, but I think he’s starting to understand how important the mentality side of the game is.”

Bacha added that the ability to post consistently low scores is the only hurdle left for Frisk to clear to earn an elite NCAA D-I offer.

Frustrating process: Getting that elusive spot on a college roster has been a frustrating process for Frisk, made even worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

College coaches can’t come out and see recruits play in person, and that has almost entirely stopped Frisk’s recruiting, despite a strong summer of events, a Y-A League title and District 3 runner-up finish.

“It just pours cold water on all the efforts you put in over the summer,” Frisk said. “It’s kind of a bummer, but everyone in my year is going through the same thing that hasn’t committed to college yet.”

Late bloomer: While Frisk is usually near the top of the leaderboard at each event now, that wasn’t always the case. A self-described late bloomer, Frisk said he understands why coaches weren’t very interested in him before this season because his scores weren't very good. 

Spring Grove's Karl Frisk tees off on the 10th hole of the York-Adams Division I golf match at South Hills Golf Club, Tuesday, September 15, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Frisk said he was ranked higher than 1,000 in the AJGA rankings as a sophomore and his improved play has allowed him to rise up to No. 180 nationally and No. 4 in the 2021 Pennsylvania recruiting class. Although he is now ranked higher than multiple players below him that are attending programs such as Penn State, Tennessee and Rutgers, Frisk has no offers from Power Five schools.

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Bacha described the NCAA golf recruiting process as unfair for players such as Frisk that don’t find their game until their junior or senior seasons. Bacha added that he knew some golfers who committed to college as seventh graders, but the recruiting rules are being changed to prevent the issues facing players such as Frisk.

Low scores not enough: The combination of Frisk’s late maturity and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a recruiting nightmare for the senior. NCAA coaches base their offers largely on their ability to see their recruits battle adversity on the course. Just looking at low scores isn’t good enough.

“College coaches are looking to see how you handle yourself on the course,” Bacha said. “They can see your scores all they want, but it’s (more about) them watching you to see how you act on the course and how you handle different situations. That’s the core to their recruiting process.”

Weighing his options: With that in mind, Frisk is weighing his options for a postgraduate year and reclassifying to the 2022 recruiting class since he is still 17 years old.

While he has spoken with some NCAA D-I coaches, Frisk doesn’t want to make such a major decision without visiting the campus where he would spend four years.

Spring Grove's Karl Frisk eyes a putt during the York-Adams Individual Golf Championships at Briarwood Golf Club Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

PIAA event looms: After a strong senior season where he averaged a league-best 72.5 per round and won his first league title, Frisk is looking forward to another chance to prove to college coaches that he belongs at the elite level at the PIAA event.

The state tournament has been cut to a single round this season because of the pandemic.

With an average carry on his drives of 290 yards and a strong iron and wedge game, Frisk knows what he needs to do to capture a state title and cement his status as one of the best youth golfers in Pennsylvania.

“I’m hitting the ball the best I ever have, so it’s just going to come down to putting,” Frisk said. “If I can make putts, it’s going to be really, really good. If I just strike the ball well and putt decently, I should have a good chance to win.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.