Matt Organisak (20C) looks to progress his professional golf career and one day hopefully qualify for the PGA Tour. (Courtesy of Emory Athletics)

Matt Organisak (20C) stood on the 18th tee of a long par-4 and did the math. He had a couple of strokes to spare to guarantee his qualification for the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School, a multi-tournament event that makes or breaks the careers for many. After three rounds of aggressive golf at the Bermuda Run Country Club in North Carolina, Organisak made his first mistake: he decided to play it safe and settle for par.

His tee shot leaked left into thick rough. Without going through his pre-shot routine, Organisak launched his second shot past the green into more rough. Normally a well-oiled machine, Organisak was breaking down. 

Following a failed attempt to hit the ball back on the green and two missed putts, Organisak tapped his ball into the hole for a double bogey. He checked the scorecard and then walked toward the driving range and practiced the 18th tee shot again and again. He dropped several positions into a tie for 32nd place. But it was just enough to make the last qualifying spot. Organisak was headed to Q-School.

A former member of the Emory University men’s golf team, Organisak is now a professional golfer pursuing his dream to play at the highest level. After improving each year in college, Organisak wanted to see what might happen if he dedicated every day to golf after graduating in 2020. 

Then on Sept. 3, Organisak took his opportunity and qualified for Q-School. With this milestone, Organisak will play in three tournaments this year that provide entry to the Korn Ferry Tour with good results. The Korn Ferry Tour is a developmental circuit for professional golfers that acts as a stepping stone to the biggest stage in golf: the PGA Tour.

Organisak’s ascent to professional golf has been years in the making.

John Sjoberg, the head coach of the Emory men’s golf team, discovered a wiry, 5’7” Organisak in 2015 at a high school tournament near Organisak’s hometown of Boston.

“I remember Matt was small,” Sjoberg said. “But I remember him hitting it far and hitting it in play. I thought he could be an asset to us for sure.”

Organisak turned down multiple Division I offers and chose Emory for two reasons — the great academics and wonderful weather. After 18 years in the cold Northeastern winters, Organisak couldn’t wait to play year-round under the warm Georgia sun. 

“If I hadn’t gone to Emory, I would not be playing professional golf,” Organisak said. “I would not have improved like I did and given this a run if I had gone to a school in a colder climate.”

After qualifying for a starting spot with Emory, Organisak came out hot. Named as the UAA Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year during his freshman year, Organisak paced the team with a 74.08 stroke per round average.

Yet, Organisak still had some adjustments to make. Three hour daily golf practices and tournaments forced him to miss several days of school. Professors didn’t give much relief for being on a D-III golf team, so his time spent studying for classes in his quantitative science major and practicing on the course had to be purposeful. This was a lesson he had learned from his parents long ago.

Organisak wasn’t more than 8 years old when he spent his first summer on the golf course. On her way to work in the morning, his mom dropped him off at the Nashawtuc Country Club in the morning and picked him up on the way back home. He soaked up the game and played until dark.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Organisak didn’t have time to mess around because only six months of the year were playable. If he wanted to play competitively, even at a young age, practice had to be structured and intense. Organisak played primarily with his dad, who taught him consistent mechanics and a positive mindset. He improved quickly, and at the age of 13, Organisak bagged his crowning achievement: he beat his dad.

As a sophomore at Emory, Organisak realized that he must focus every moment on the course like he did at home. His streaky putter became consistent, and his wedge game was dialed in. Organisak enjoyed another outstanding season and shaved a stroke to improve to a 73.20 average.

Former teammate and current member of the Emory men’s golf team Logan Ryan (22B) credits Organisak for being a mentor of hard work for the entire team.

“Matt’s a competitor, and he’s down into the process and routine because he wants to win more than anyone,” Ryan said.

Organisak’s hard work paid dividends his junior year. He achieved his first outright individual win at the 2018 CMU Tartan Invitational. Organisak’s dad traveled to Pittsburgh to watch his son extend his lead in the final round for a calm and commanding performance. They shared a big hug on the green of the 18th hole to celebrate. In the 2018–2019 season, Organisak led the team with a 72.62 stroke average.

Before his senior year, Sjoberg and Organisak met to talk about the decision to play golf professionally. Organisak’s path may be unexpected from D-III golf, but Sjoberg knew he had the skillset and mentality to get there.

“The great part about golf is that nobody can care where you came from. Nobody has to offer you a contract, draft you or even think you’re good enough,” Sjoberg said. “Matt just needs to beat the guys in front of him. Golf is the ultimate meritocracy.”

With the goal to play professionally, Organisak elevated his practice. He took detailed notes to know exactly where he wanted to place his shots. Five days a week in the weight room rendered improved distance, and Organisak stretched obsessively, typically as long as 30 minutes after each workout.

Even though the pandemic cut his final year at Emory short, Organisak shaved more strokes off his game. He improved his final year to a 71.78 stroke average that etched his name into the No. 2 spot on the school’s all-time scoring chart.

Daily eight-hour practices translated into results on the course. In fall 2020, Organisak captured the 112th Massachusetts Amateur Championship and lifted the trophy wearing an Emory golf shirt.

Organisak turned professional after graduating and began the process for qualifying for the Korn Ferry Tour. Organisak will travel to Dayton, Nevada, at the end of September to compete in a 72-hole tournament for Q-School where every shot will matter for his career. But Organisak is more than up for the challenge.

“I want to play at the highest level because there’s nothing more enjoyable than being under pressure and hitting the shots that you want to hit,” Organisak said. “I want to play with the best and that is my motivation everyday. I want to be the best golfer in the world, and I want to win. I want to win.”