Father’s passion fueled Trine alum Frisinger’s golf career
Rolla Frisinger expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he got to live out his father’s dreams.
“My Dad played on the PGA Tour in the 1940s, but had to give it up because his parents thought it was ‘no way to make a living,’ ” he recalled. “He became a business owner in Angola instead, but always maintained his passion for golf.”
The elder Frisinger built a home on Lake James Golf Course, allowing Rolla to play golf there while growing up. However, Rolla still wasn’t looking toward golf as a career.
Instead, after graduating high school, he worked at his father’s businesses and attended Tri-State (now Trine) University.
“It was convenient to go to Tri-State and still work for my Dad,” he said. “Plus, Tri-State had a strong golf program. Since I was the MVP golfer for Angola High School it was a good fit to come and play for Coach SanGiacomo.”
His experiences at Tri-State, he said, were some of the most memorable from his lifetime of golf.
”Playing competitively every day against a very good group of players, many of which became golf professionals, was fun and sharpened my game,” he said. “Some of the road trips and courses we played are still good memories!”
Rolla earned a business management degree in 1977 and planned to operate a business like his father. However, those plans took a detour at the end of his junior year, when Lake James Golf Course hired him to run the Golf Shop.
“That was the beginning of 47 years (to date) in the golf business,” he said.
Those 47 years included becoming a PGA Professional, founding junior and collegiate golf tours and owning Foundation Golf Center in Coldwater, Michigan. The nonprofit Callaway-Meijer Junior Tour has awarded more than $500,000 to deserving student athletes.
“It has been very rewarding,” Rolla said.
Though Tri-State didn’t launch its golf management degree program until 15 years after Rolla graduated, he has helped encourage its students, speaking in classes and providing internships to Trine students. Golf professionals who work for him have taught classes at Trine.
“It would have been nice to have this program in place when I started school, because I pretty much learned the golf business through the school of hard knocks,” he said.
“It has been gratifying to work in an industry that my Dad had a passion for, and he passed that passion down to me. Tri-State provided me the education to successfully run my golf operations.”