Prep Boys Golf

Frese's strong play reflects lessons learned from father

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 6, 2018 9:00 pm

QUINCY -- The tempo of Gavin Frese's swing doesn't change no matter which club he pulls from his bag.

He starts with the driver, pounding balls down the range at the Knights of Columbus as he and the rest of the Quincy Notre Dame boys golfers prepare for Monday's Class 2A sectional at the Lincoln Elks Club course in Lincoln.

Frese continues with the progression, working his way through the irons and wedges until his bucket of balls is empty.

"These guys will make fun of me a few times every tournament about my swing being too fast," Frese said. "I don't know what they're talking about. I feel it's the slowest it's ever been."

Maybe so, but his teammates are echoing one of the sentiments his father, Doug, always shared.

"He always told me my swing was too fast," Frese said. "He'd tell me that every time we played golf."

Doug Frese knew plenty about a smooth, steady swing. He finished in the top 10 twice at the Class A state tournament while golfing at QND, taking seventh in 1983 and fourth in 1984. He stayed an avid golfer, teaching the game to his two children -- Gavin and Grace, a freshman at Culver-Stockton College who played in the state tournament last fall as a senior at QND.

"I played with my dad enough to see how he would play shots, and I try to mimic that," Gavin said. "He was pretty good. Getting up-and-down from a hard chip, hitting the driver where you want to, making a big putt. I learned that from him.

"He'd putt with me a lot. He was a pretty good putter. He addressed the ball in a different way, and it made you look at things from a different angle. We'd putt together on the putting green at Westview (Golf Course), and even though he was always beating me in a competition, I'd see how he'd look down the line. I try to do that. When I do that, it works."

He thinks of his dad every time it works, too.

Doug Frese unexpectedly died in July at the age of 51.

"It's been tough, man," said Gavin, tears welling in the corners of his eyes. "We always played golf together, yes, but it was so much more. Everything changed."

Doug was the first person Gavin would talk to after every round he played. He was his sounding board, advisor, coach and biggest fan.

"We'd spend hours and hours after dinner talking about golf," Frese said.

In some ways, that's still taking place.

"I think about the things he would do and the things he would say," Frese said. "It helps."

So does the encouragement from those trying to provide stability and support.

Frese shot a 75 last Tuesday at the Class 2A Canton Regional to help the Raiders win the regional title and advance to the sectional. Afterward, several fathers of other players gave him a needed pat on the back or sent him a text with encouraging words.

"They told me how proud my dad would be of me," Frese said.

He's leaned on those fathers and QND coaches Mark Longo and Charles Scholz for the advice his dad always gave. It's allowed Frese, who is No. 5 in QND's lineup, to post the Raiders' second-best score in two of the last three tournaments.

"It's been great to see him continue to improve and find success in his game," Longo said.

A simple, smart approach has enabled that.

"Even if you make a bogey or have a bad first few holes, it's knowing it's not the end of the round," Frese said. "There are tons of holes still to play. I've always struggled with that. I always thought I needed to do well all the time.

"As we've gotten later in the season, I've realized that's not the case. There are other holes out there where you can do better, where you can post better than par."

With that mentality, he's playing his best at the best time of the year. The only thing missing is his dad being here to see it.

"Things happen, and you can't control it," Frese said. "You just have to look at it from a different angle."

His dad taught him that.