Graham Delaet has been where no golfer ever wishes to be.
He’s stood on the edge of a green clutching his wedge and had no idea if he’d be able to make contact with the ball. It is an affliction called the yips — golf’s foremost four-letter word — and over the years, it’s bitten Delaet bad.
On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar podcast, the PGA Tour journeyman explained to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz how his battle with the yips came about, and why took the unusual approach of embracing the issue rather than hiding from it.
“I remember it slowly creeping in and it was at Quail Hollow, I think it was 2015, on no. 15, the par-5,” he recalled. “I hit driver, 3-wood just up there short of the green by like 20 yards. I just hit it a little bit, and I hit it like 20 feet just up on top. It was a terrible shot but I was like, like what the hell? I kind of like flinched at that thing.”
Then, a few holes later, it happened again.
“I hit it just short of the green and it was one that I literally pulled the pin out. I was trying to make it,” he said. “And I hit it like, I don’t know, halfway to the hole or something. I looked at [my caddie] and I was like, ‘I think have the yips right now.'”
After the round, Delaet spoke honestly about what caused his chipping woes, even going as far as to use the y-word to describe his performance.
“I really thought at the time that if I did that it would like, get me kind of over this like hump,” he remembered. “I could easily have said my back was taking a month off, but I just wanted to be honest because I thought that that would be the way that I would get through it.”
Immediately, his heartfelt response led to an outpouring of support from the sports world, even landing on Scott Van Pelt’s “best thing I saw today” segment on SportsCenter.
“It’s crazy, there’s been support, there’s a lot of people that obviously deal with it. I still kind of am,” Delaet said. “You know, I was chipping one-handed when I went out and played last fall, but I actually got pretty good at it. The last few times I’ve played in Boise, I’ve been chipping with two hands.”
Ultimately, Delaet says, he’s fortunate to live in a world where his biggest issue is his ability to consistently strike a golf ball.
“I’m slowly, I’m slowly getting there and, but there’s nothing that I’ve watched, I’ve done, I’ve seen different coaches, technically, worked with to two different mental people to try to figure it out,” he said. “Yeah, it’s a weird deal, man. I’m not hiding from it. The way I look at it is that I’m lucky…
“There are so many people that deal with like anxiety on this massive level where they can’t even walk out of their door at home or they’re scared to touch their car or get in a car, whatever it is,” Delaet said. “I mean, [the yips] obviously affects my ability to play golf, really, really well; but I’ve played 2015, 2016, 2017 like that, and did pretty well.”
To hear the rest of his Subpar interview, including the moment he knew Jordan Spieth had something special, check out the full video below.