Born: October 17, 1960
If more neighborhood kids had been available when he was growing up, perhaps Jay Delsing might have carved out a career as a professional baseball player.
Delsing knew at an early age he would need a scholarship to attend college. So, he focused on baseball as his ticket to bigger and better things. But math got in the way.
“We had six church league baseball games and an additional practice one other day a week,” Delsing said. “I could not play more baseball without getting the entire neighborhood together, and when that did happen, it always seemed like one of the other players would get called home in the middle of the game and pretty much end the day. It always made me mad.”
He then turned to golf and got his scholarship. At UCLA he played on a collegiate all-star team, alongside some of the best golfers of the 80s and 90s. He found success on the professional tours, and turned to broadcasting once his time on the course was over. With his overall contributions to the sport of golf, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Delsing as a member of the Class of 2023.
Delsing’s first memories of golf came when he was 12 or 13 years old.
“I started playing with my dad and older sisters,” Delsing said. “I can remember playing with them and I always had to help them find their ball. My oldest sister, Kim, would take me out and play nine with me. She was very encouraging.”
After realizing that maybe baseball wasn’t in his future, Delsing realized golf was.
“Golf happened and I could finally play all day. Alone, with someone, it didn’t matter to me,” he said. “I loved the solitude and learned even more so how to rely on myself to make something happen.”
Golf eventually led Delsing to UCLA, where he found himself teammates with the likes of Corey Pavin, Steve Pate, Tom Pernice, Jr., and Duffy Waldorf.
“Those guys all had super high compete levels and wanted to win very badly,” Delsing said. “Honestly, we all did. We also put winning and staying diligent and working hard on our games for ourselves and the team at the forefront.”
Delsing succeeded on an individual level in college, winning seven tournaments, a total which still ranks third in UCLA history. He was twice named All-American.
Following his collegiate career, Delsing embarked on lengthy career as a professional golfer, securing seven total victories, and 30 Top 10 finishes.
His first career victory came at the Fort Smith Classic on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. And while that victory is high on his personal list of accomplishments, it doesn’t quite rank as his favorite. That one involves former United States President Gerald Ford.
In 1993, Delsing was co-champion of the Jerry Ford Invitational in Vail, Colo.
“Winning the Gerald Ford event in Vail and getting to play with the former president was a huge thrill but that wasn’t a PGA Tour sanctioned event. The field was smaller and not quite as competitive,” Delsing said. “It was also only 36 holes, but a win is a win!”
Over time the grind of being a professional golfer wore on Delsing. He managed to compete in 565 PGA Tour events, but travel, time away from family, and the relatively small purses, combined with the pressure of being a one-man brand, made for a tougher life than many understand.
“Life as a professional golfer on the PGA Tour was not easy,” Delsing said. “We played in a time when the purses were good but nothing like were they were once Tiger Woods burst onto the scene, so consequently we didn’t earn that bigger money.”
Despite the trials, Delsing cherishes his pro career.
“I think I was one of the lucky ones to get to dream, then fulfill and live out that dream,” he said. “Who gets to do that?”
After golf, Delsing made the natural transition to the media world, joining Fox Sports in 2014. Today, he hosts the popular Golf with Jay Delsing on ESPN 101 in St. Louis.
“I am committed to growing the game and am hopefully doing it with my shows,” he said. “My favorite part of my show is telling and recanting stories and situations.”
Not surprisingly, Delsing gives credit to those who helped him throughout his life and career.
“My entire family was really important as a youngster,” he said. “In college Corey Pavin and Steve Pate were extremely important to me. As a pro Andy North helped me early in my career and Bob Rotella was a huge factor. My brother, Bart, and my close friends Tim Twellman and John Perles have had the most positive impact overall in my career.”