Spring Grove standout Karl Frisk signs with No. 1 golf program in NCAA Division II

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
  • Spring Grove High School golf standout Karl Frisk has made his college choice.
  • Frisk has signed with the University of South Carolina Aiken.
  • USC Aiken is ranked the No. 1 golf program in NCAA Division II.
  • Frisk won the York-Adams League boys' golf championship in 2020.

Karl Frisk had just played his worst tournament of the year.

Then he had to endure a three-hour car ride to tour a college campus that he wasn't all that interested in and didn’t intend to attend.

The Spring Grove High School standout senior was in South Carolina to play in the Elite Invitational golf event and struggled mightily. Frisk finished 23-over par in front of University of South Carolina Aiken coach Michael Carlisle. Frisk had a visit scheduled at the school the next day.

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After he played his worst golf during a dominant 2020 season, Frisk had his future altered once he stepped foot on the campus. He quickly decided to make it his home for the next four years.

“I was just going there just to see it,” the 2020 York-Adams League boys' golf champion said. “I knew it was good and they had a lot of good stuff going on, but I just didn’t really get it until I was there. I was going in thinking, ‘I’m probably not going to go here, but at least just give it a shot.’ As soon as I saw everything they had, it really sealed the deal for me.”

Frisk visited the university on Nov. 16, committed on Nov. 18 and signed his national letter of intent on Nov. 20.

A top program: USC Aiken is ranked the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II men’s golf and plays in a number of events with NCAA D-I teams.

Frisk originally planned on pursuing a postgraduate year because of the lack of recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic but didn’t waste any time once he got to see the program’s facilities and home course — Palmetto Golf Club — and talk to Carlisle.

“If it wasn’t such a good fit, I would have thought about it more,” Frisk said. “It was just such good timing for me because I really didn’t feel like waiting a year, and he gave me a good offer.

"I just thought it was perfect timing. That’s why it all came together so fast. I just thought there was no other choice but to say yes.”

Carlisle admitted that the first time he got to see Frisk play in person was not the Spring Grove senior’s best day on the course. Still, the coach said he actually learned more about Frisk on that day than he would have if he had taken home the title.

“A lot of times you can tell more about a person when things aren’t going well for them,” Carlisle said. “When you’re playing great, making birdies and shooting 68, anybody can be a good teammate when things are going well. Things weren’t going well for Karl, but he kept his focus, kept his emotions under control and handled that situation well.”

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

Relationship with coach a key: One of the major factors in Frisk’s decision was his relationship with Carlisle. Despite Frisk’s continued success at major events (including a District 3 Class 3-A runner-up finish and a tie for fourth in the state Class 3-A event) and ability to score on par with golfers going to elite NCAA D-I programs, college coaches didn’t offer much interest in Frisk. 

Things were different with Carlisle.

In addition to watching him play at the Elite Invitational, Carlisle offered Frisk right after his visit and made it clear he wanted the Rockets’ standout to join the Pacers’ program.

“It was just really good to have somebody really want you and tell you that they want you,” Frisk said. “It was good to feel like you belong there.”

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

Program has produced pro players: Another added bonus of joining the USC Aiken squad is the PGA Tour pro access it unlocks for Frisk.

Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown are members at the Pacers’ home course, and Brown and Korn Ferry Tour members Roberto Diaz and Matt Atkins are alumni of USC Aiken.

Carlisle said that the three pro Pacers were under-recruited, just like Frisk, and with the facilities and weather that USC Aiken offers, were able to achieve their dreams through their passion and dedication for the sport.

“We have always kind of made a living off of players who had that happen to them,” Carlisle said. “We have had good success and three guys who made it to the PGA Tour who were the same kind of players that fell through the cracks. We have everything they need to achieve whatever their goals are, but you gotta have that passion and that desire to want to compete and improve. Karl is one of those players.”

Frisk is excited to speak to the pros about what it would take for him to reach his ultimate goal of playing alongside them on the PGA Tour.

Spring Grove High senior Karl Frisk winds up for his tee shot during the PIAA Class 3-A State Championship on Tuesday. Frisk finished T4 in the event with a 1-under 70.

Sigh of relief: After a long year of playing well and receiving no college interest, Frisk is now able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing he has found the program for him.

He is excited to focus on school and practicing and looks forward to playing in tournaments without the pressure of needing to get recruited off his scores.

It took more time than he hoped, but Frisk is happy to have found a second home over 600 miles from where his love for golf was born.

“It’s really exciting,” Frisk said. “I’m a pretty good player now, obviously, but I think going there is really going to take my game to another level. Being around a team of guys who are as good or better than me is going to push me to be better. I definitely can’t wait to get there.”

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.