Most outside observers would agree junior Eric Plisko’s golf swing is picturesque – a fluid motion and extended follow-through lead up to the final pose at the end.
However, the success Plisko is having this season stems beyond what the eye can see. It’s the transition he’s made between the ears that makes his game even better.
“He’s getting stronger and stronger mentally,” coach Brian Quinn said. “He’s got to continue to work on that. Mental toughness, in my belief, comes from work ethic. If you work hard, and you trust what you’re doing, you’re mentally stronger than anyone else you play against.”
In March, Plisko won the Bermuda Match Play Championship, a difficult test of golf for individual competitors. That experience has transcended his play, as the Owls’ scoring-average leader was recently named Atlantic Ten Conference Golfer of the Week. A little confidence boost goes a long way.
“You get a win under your belt and hopefully build off of it,” Plisko said. “[With] a chance to win a tournament, you can say, ‘Oh, I won this. I know how to do it.’ It’s just a matter of doing it.”
Growing up, the Sugar Notch, Pa., native began playing golf with his father at 8 years old. He started to take the game more seriously as he progressed into high school but had a long list of hobbies. Plisko was also a member of the baseball and basketball teams at Hanover Area High School. He was a 1,000-point scorer on the hardwood and received offers to play Division III basketball. Even though he didn’t get too much attention for his golf game, it was still good enough to land a spot on Temple’s squad.
“I wanted to play baseball or basketball growing up, but probably my junior year I started playing pretty good golf,” Plisko said. “I just loved being outside, and the game, it’s something you can play for the rest of your life. Basketball, you might play in college, and that’d be it, whereas golf, you can keep playing.”
In Plisko’s first fall on North Broad Street, he posted a freshman-like scoring average of 82.1. In the fall of 2008, he averaged a team-best 73.1 shots per round. Plisko has emerged as a team leader, and he helped the Owls capture their first tournament win in four years at the Big 5 Invitational last year.
“He is a leader by example — not a vocal guy — but leads by example. He is a wonderful kid — first-class — and that’s the most important thing,” Quinn said. “[He’s] very respectful and appreciative and takes pride in playing Division I college golf for Temple University.”
As the accolades pile up, Quinn said Plisko has what it takes to compete professionally — something with which he is familiar. After playing college golf at Temple, Quinn went on to win 17 professional tournaments in his career.
“He has a very open learning curve, so there is no limit to how good he can be,” Quinn said. “He has the ability to play professional golf and succeed at it.”
Plisko is interested in playing golf at the next level but knows it will take a lot of dedication and patience. However, with another year of collegiate golf, time is on his side.
“I’m going to see how I play next year,” he said. “I feel my game is going to keep getting better and better. I would like to [play professionally] eventually after school.”
Winning in Bermuda has also provided Plisko with an opportunity to participate in the British Amateur in mid-June. If he can get past a challenging field of 288 competitors, he would be exempt for two of the PGA Tour’s major championship events. But even with all the potential accomplishments that lie ahead, Plisko is focused on his team.
Coming up April 24, the Owls have the A-10 Championships and a legitimate chance to take the title. Last season, the team placed seventh, but with more momentum than ever and leaders like Plisko, the Cherry and White may break through.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at email@example.com.