David Frost talks about his golf game in ways that most sports fans can identify with, but most golfers might dismiss.
He discusses holding the club like a baseball bat, hockey stick, or in the parlance of his native South Africa, a cricket bat.
He eschews the technical jargon that bombards golfers from the covers of magazines and 30-minute TV advertorials.
“No one tells you how to mechanically play baseball,” he said during a news conference Thursday. “No one tells you how to mechanically play hockey. It’s a more reactive and instinctive thing.”
The natural approach is working for Frost, who has eight consecutive top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour, the circuit devoted to golfers ages 50 and older. He is looking for a ninth consecutive top-10 at the Greater Gwinnett Championship at TPC Sugarloaf, whose first round Friday wasn’t completed because of rain. Frost is 3 under through 12 holes, one shot behind the leader Bart Bryant. Frost ranks second in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, the equivalent of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup, with one victory among this top-10 finishes this year at the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif.
Frost was a solid player on the PGA Tour, posting 10 victories, the last in 1997 at the MasterCard Colonial.
He joined the Champions Tour in 2009 and won the 3M Championship in 2010. His golfing bio again started to fill up after something instructor Christian Neumaier was teaching him started to click last summer.
Frost said he began to think of the golf grip and swing differently. Instead of holding the club in his fingers, he began to hold it more in his hands, like he would a bat.
“All batting sports, you grip the club in the hands …,” he said. “Golf is the only sport that teaches you to grip it in your fingers and work on your technique. “
Gripping the club in his hands allowed him to swing more with his arms, which made his wrists the only things that needed to change during the swing. It’s a departure from the traditional belief of holding the club in the fingers, which he said needs multiple changes during the course of one swing to hit it straight.
The grip change made his swing feel more natural.
“I feel a little more in auto-drive playing golf rather than thinking about mechanical thoughts while I’m out there playing,” he said.
His run of top-10s started with a ninth-place tie at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, continued two weeks later with a victory at the AT&T Championship and hasn’t stopped since.
“Tiger (Woods) makes the game look so difficult because he works so hard trying to hit the ball,” Frost said. “He looks so drained by the end of the round. He hits so many golf balls, and he’s always working on something, instead of it being natural. This is just a natural way of playing.”
Frost always has been a little bit different.
In 1994, Frost and his brother, Michael, established a vineyard in South Africa. David Frost Wines dedicates vintages to famous golfers, including Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
He also doesn’t like to use the golf carts that some seniors take advantage of on the Champions Tour. He said walking gives him time to mentally prepare between shots.
Regarding that last difference, his mental approach also is different than that of some golfers, who get so locked in during rounds they don’t acknowledge the world around them.
“I come and go during the day and not overfocus on 18 holes,” he said. “Try to get out of my own way and keep my thoughts small. I like to play my golf Friday and Saturday and be in contention Sunday afternoon.”
The differences seem to be working for him.
Etc.: Twenty-four of the 81 players finished the first round Friday. The round will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday. Tickets from Friday’s round will be honored Saturday or Sunday (not both days), even if they were used Friday. … John Huston (back) withdrew before his tee time, allowing former Georgia standout Chip Beck into the tournament.