The Way of an Eagle

by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
Robert Darden

 

 

 

Jay Delsing

When big, rawboned Jay Delsing drives, you can see that he comes from an athletic family-his father Jim played for several American League teams, including the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns. And while attending UCLA, Jay was teammate with well-known golfers Corey Pavin, Steve Pate, and Duffy Waldorf.

But Delsing's earnings slipped in 1994 after back-to-back great years in 1992 and 1993. IN 1992 he won nearly $300,000 on the PGA Tour. In 1993 he barely lost by a couple strokes to Paul Azinger at the New England Classic. And he started strong in 1994, winning nearly $125,000 in the first eleven events, but faded at the end.

Still, Delsing has maintained his genial good humor throughout and in 1995 looked to have his stroke back, finishing with a second-place tie at the FedEx-St. Jude Classic and taking home a whopping $110,000.

"I was born and raised a Catholic. I went through twelve years of Catholic education by the Jesuits. We came from a religious-I would say, very believing –background. Unfortunately, when I was a kid, the Catholic faith used guilt a lot more than I would have liked. But as far as believing in the Lord-and obviously I've gone up and down since I was younger-I've always felt like I've had that faith with me pretty much my whole life. I feel pretty lucky in that regard.

I think I kind of grew into my faith. A lot of people are able to pinpoint it and say, "at eight o' clock on the third of January 1965." It wasn't like that for me. I do remember the lowest point of my life, right when I was getting out of college and coming on the tour. That was the part of my life when I strayed the farthest from Jesus.

Then I remember reading some things about Medjugorje in Yugoslavia, where the sightings of the Virgin Mary were taking place and lives were changed. It really sparked my interest in my faith again. It was interesting just to read some of the things people had written about what they had seen. So my wife Kathy and I researched it a little bit, and we saw some videos on it as well.

And in the days that followed, we talked about Medjugorje a lot, what it means to those people and what it could mean to us. Kathy remembers those days vividly. We'd go and pray, and it was incredibly powerful and emotional for both of us.

We never talked specifically about how that affected us both, but I'll always remember the feelings we had at the time and just the casual conversation we had after a lot of the prayer meetings we went to-it was very inspirational for both of us.

It really got us back on track and back to what we believe and think. It was really nice. I realize it's a strange sort of thing, but your relationship with God is so personal that there's no telling what I can be for you.

In retrospect, as I look back, it may have been a reflection more of the low point I was in-straying from my original faith-and maybe that's why that particular time and that particular incident stick out in my mind.

Another point came at the birth of our first daughter, Mackenzie. We had some serious medical difficulties with the baby-and Kathy as well. She had some major complications with the birth, so both went into intensive care.

But somehow, I just had some sort of resolve, whether it was the Holy Spirit or whatever, but I knew things were going to be okay.

Now look back on it as an incredible time in my life when He was there, and I knew that everybody was well taken care of, even though I'd look at them in the hospital and have no idea what all the tubes were for! That was an incredibly strong part of my life as well.

On the Tour we really enjoy Larry Moody; he's a wonderful man and a great example. I had always shied away from the Bible study when I first joined the Tour, but once we got to meet and know Larry and listen to him speak his wonderful daily applications that really help you get along, we were fine. He's just a nice man and a big help, and now we go to the study as much as we can.

We still belong to the Catholic Church in St. Louis, and our daughter has just entered the Catholic kindergarten there. I pretty much feel like Catholics and Protestants are all on the same team. We're all just human. The problem is when you act like you're perfect and know all the answers.

In this life, you just have to do the best you can do.

Memorable Moment
As far as highlights, in 1993, I shot a 61 at Memphis on Sunday and had an opportunity that particular day to shoot an incredibly low score. It was on of those days when just about everything I did went about the right distance and went right at the hole.

Did you know early in the round something special was happening?

Not really, because you try not to think about it; you try to enjoy it. This is what we practice for; this is what we work hard for. It was one of these things where I just didn't want to run out of holes. I wanted to keep enjoying the day, to keep having fun with it, and it was just a great, really fun, fun day.

Another time, I was playing Hilton Head with Paul Azinger on Sunday's round in 1991. I hit a shot from the right-hand side of the fairway on the fifteenth hole, which is a dogleg par five. I pulled it slightly and it hit a tree.

There's a lake down to the left, and I thought, nuts, that ball's gone into the lake. Instead, I heard a sound like someone had hit a coconut with a hammer. A real hollow sound. Then I heard all of these people groaning. We were probably 130-140 yards away-it was a nine-iron shot-so I couldn't see anything.

But when I got there, I saw what had happened. There was a turtle in the water, and my ball hit the turtle on the shell and came back on the land! I came back and chipped the ball almost into the hole, tapped it in, and finished tenth in the tournament! That made my week!

It's just one of those things that make you smile and think, Okay-remember those couple of bad bounces I got the day before? We're evened up.

Tip
Here are a couple of the standard things I see that get people fouled up with their putting. First of all, they let their mind get preoccupied with too many thoughts: left arm straight, right arm up, right elbow at a forty-five degree angle, and on and on. Those sorts of things, those abstract things, don't really have anything to do with making a putt.

There're really only a few things you do need to know. You really need to keep your head still while you're watching the ball, and you hands need to be even with the ball. Those are basically the only two things you need to know.

Other than that, if you can knock a ball into a hole, you're a good putter. That's all there is to it.

Putting is the most individual way of expressing yourself in golf. I guarantee you that if you keep making putts, someone is going to come up to you and say, "How do you do that?" That's how you're recognized as a good putter.

Still, there are a couple of things that really might help-the golfers can use these in their entire game: chip, swing, everything.

The first is to really loosen up the feel. Loosen your forearms and shoulders. If you tense up the muscles in your hands and arms for five minutes and try to hold it, you'll see how stiff your shoulders feel. That feeling can work its way all the way through your back. It is a very unnatural way to play, and the bottom line is that it is on darn fun!

So, I'd like to see people really loosen up their hands. It gives you a much better feel for the putter, much better feel for what you're doing, and it'll also loosen up your mind. That's the second thing: Free your mind of all of those abstract thoughts and just think of making the putt. I would love for a golfer's last thought to be: Just make the putt.

So many times you get up over the ball, and you're thinking, I just want to make a good stroke. Well, heck! I'd much rather make a bad stroke and make the putt than make a good-looking stroke and miss! If you can get it in the hole, it doesn't matter how it looks.

Pros are definitely more confident in their putting, but if you're going to go ahead and let your mind get freed up and untangled from all this junk it carries around in it, so far as techniques are concerned, you're going to be able to have that confidence too.

There are bad putters on the PGA Tour. You can watch them putt. They're tentative. There's no athlete in any sport who is any good when he or she is tentative. A lot of athletes get hurt then; their bodies are on the defensive side, and that's not good. That's not the way you want to try and perform.

So that's one of the things that's important in golf: Untangle those goofy thought you picked up from the twenty-five minutes you spent reading that magazine before you went out on the course-and try to remember it's still a sport.

Michael Jordan, when he drives down a lane, isn't thinking about how he is going to shoot. He is thinking about whether he is going to jump to the right or left, or go over or under the defender in front of him, to get the big ball in the hole. And that's really what you do now, except in golf, your "defenders" are mostly mental.

Everybody who reads this book has had a day when they stood over their putt and knew, absolutely knew they were going to make that putt. And that's what I'm trying to get you to do. If you think, I'm going to make this putt, if you feel like you're going to make this putt, chances are you will.

This is going to do a couple of things: First, chances are you're going to come much closer to making it, and even if you don't, you're going to have much more success in the long run. And second, you're going to have more fun. That's what I stress when I do my clinics and corporate outings; I really try to increase the amount of enjoyment people get from golf.

After all, this is not supposed to be some sort of white-knuckled fight for these guys. This is supposed to be: I'm out of the office. Let me enjoy a beautiful course on a beautiful day outing and relax a little bit. Right?

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