Being born left-handed adds many challenges to life in a world where most products and tools are designed to cater to the mass-market of right-handed people. While it can be tricky, being a lefty is by no means a disability. Many of the top players are lefties. In some ways, it can be a blessing.
Left Handed Golf Tips
Depending on the source of information it is estimated that between 13 percent and 15 percent of the global population are left-handed. According to lefthandersday.com, approximately 13 percent of the world’s population is left-handed (1) while Anything Left-Handed reports that approximately 15 percent of the world’s population is left-handed (2).
American Golf estimates that approximately 1 out of every 30 professional golfers are left-handed. The statistics are slightly better for the non-professional golfer community where approximately 12 percent of golfers are left-handed (3).
There are numerous famous lefties including the legendary Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Bob Charles, Steve Flesch, and Candian Mike Weir. An interesting fact is that Canada has the highest rate of left-handed golfers with roughly 30-percent of their golfers being lefties.
Golf is an extremely difficult sport to master that caters to the vast majority, right-handed golfers. Left-handed golfers are mostly included as an afterthought when it comes to golfing equipment and course design.
Instructions are also generally geared towards right-handed golfers. As a lefty, you are probably used to this so all you have to do is reverse the instructions. This can be frustrating at first but will not take long to get used to.
This has led to many golfers learning to play right-handed thereby losing much of their natural ability and flexibility. This article will look at the challenges left-handed golfers experience and solutions to address these challenges. It will address some left-handed golf tips.
The lack of availability of left-handed golf equipment and golf instructors has led to many golfers learning to play golf with right-handed equipment and- coached by right-handed coaches. YouTube created a platform for golf instructors allowing them to show off their dexterity by playing both left-handed and right-handed golf. This highlights the difficulties experienced when playing clubs designed for the non-dominant side.
Quick Stats on Left-Handed Golfers
As left-handed golfers are in the minority, they are unlikely to dominate the overall statistics. Some of the more interesting statistics provided by American Golf show that the top five left-handed golfers on the PGA tour have won a total of 74 PGA tournaments.
Phil Mickelson leads the pack with 44 wins, followed by Bubba Watson with 12, Mike Weir with 8, Bob Charles with 6, and rounding up the top five is Steve Flesch with 4 rounds. Bob Charles was the first lefthander to win on the PGA Tour at the 1963 Houston Open.
Only 4 left-handed golfers have won a Major tournament Phil Mickelson again leading the way with 6 Majors, Bubba Watson with 2 Majors, Mike Weir and Bob Charles has only won one Major each. The Masters Tournament is the Major tournament with the highest rate of success as six of the Majors wins by lefties have come at the Masters.
Notable Left-Handed Golfers
The golfers mentioned above are not the only notable left-handed golfers that have played or are active on the professional tours. Nick O’Hern and Brian Harman on the regular tours and Robert McIntyre is an up-and-coming professional on the European Tour.
Studies have found that have an advantage when it comes to creativity, imagination, and intuition. These features offer huge benefits in golf when golfers are required to improvise on positions that are not generally practiced.
There are many disadvantages to being a left-handed golfer since the game is mainly designed and developed around right-handed golfers. Equipment development does not justify the same investment as right-handed equipment due to a much smaller market.
Receiving golf instruction is limited due to the number of left-handed coaches. It is frequently mentioned that left-handed golf is a mirror image of the right-handed game.
However, there are some unique features to left-handed golf that requires the instructor to understand the finer details.
Having a well-designed set of golf clubs is the foundation of playing good golf. Without well-designed, properly fitting golf clubs, golfers will experience difficulties in honing their swing skills. Left-handed golfers are at a disadvantage due to the limited investment that brands make into the left-handed club market. This is probably one of the biggest frustrations for lefties.
Understandably, less investment will be made into this market as the returns are low. For this reason, many manufacturers mirror the technology used in right-handed clubs into left-handed clubs. Purchasing a mediocre or ill-fitting set of golf clubs can limit the golfer’s ability to maximize their ability.
Although most large retailers offer left-handed clubs, many of the smaller retailers will not carry left-handed clubs due to the lack of sales. With the advent of online retailers, left-handed golfers have access to a larger selection of clubs.
As an alternative left-handed golfer could invest in having a set of clubs fitted to their swing type. Fortunately, this situation has improved over the years and although still limited, there are now many more options available to lefties.
As the case with golf clubs, the market mainly makes provision for right-handed golfers using left-handed gloves. Fortunately, the gloves available are well designed as there is more research available due to the larger market of non-golf gloves that are available in both left-hand and right-hand.
Course Layout and Design
Most golf courses are designed for right-handed golfers. This has both a positive and a negative impact on left-handed golfers. Often bail-out areas cater for the right-handed golfer thus forcing the left-handed golfer to be more creative and imaginative in shot-making.
This often works to the advantage of the left-handed golfer as the layout is designed to challenge the majority of golfers, being right-handed.
Left-handed golfers will benefit from employing a left-handed golf instructor. These instructors understand the challenges that left-handed golfers experience and the body’s requirements to offer resistance during the swing. Right-handed golf instructors understand the golf swing but lack the experience of swinging a left-handed club.
To avoid change to right-handed golf and to gain the most out of instruction lefties should find an instructor that understands and have practical experience in playing left-handed. While there are naturally fewer resources in terms of instruction and coaching for left-handed golfers, it is available. You might just have to look a little harder to find it.
Golf Tips for Left-Handers
The basics of holding the golf club remain the same for either dexterity. Most golf instruction is written for right-handed golfers and described in terms of left-hand and right-hand positions.
A more reliable way of interpreting the instruction is by reading it as the trailing hand being the dominant hand. For left-handers that would be the left hand. The non-dominant hand is referred to as the leading hand.
Place the grip of the club in your trailing (right) hand then wrap the fingers around the grip with the thumb pointing down the shaft. This hand is placed close to the top of the grip and will be the highest on the grip. The V formed by the thumb and forefinger should point to the left shoulder.
The connection between the leading and trailing hand depends on whether an interlocking, baseball, or Vardon grip is employed. Wrap the fingers of your leading (left) hand around the grip below the leading hand. The V formed by the thumb and forefinger should also point to the left shoulder.
Posture is the basis of any solid golf swing and set up in the correct stance is crucial irrespective of the prominent side. Postures of both left-handed and right-handed golfers are mirror images. A good posture begins with feet slightly apart.
Knees should be flexed but not bend for more stability and power throughout the swing. Keep the back straight from the bend in the waist to provide an axis to swing around.
Practice Short and Long Game
Since left-handed golfers are at a disadvantage when it comes to golf course design, they require an all-round game to overcome this. Phil Mickelson is a wizard with irons and is a prime example of the benefits of having a great short game combined with a good long game.
Practice With Other Left-Handers
Similarly, to using left-handed instructors, it is important to practice with other left-handed golfers since they are in the best position to share experience and understand areas that require improvement.
It is no secret that golf is a mental game. Your attitude and mindset are essential for success. If you look at being a lefty negatively this will have an impact on your game. Just look at the famous lefties, take some inspiration, and play with a positive attitude.
Remain true to yourself and play the game that works best for you. It might be different from other players but do what feels right and works for you.
How do you hit a left-handed driver?
Hitting a soaring drive remains one of the most sought-after shots in the game of golf. Regular watchers of golf on TV will know the awesome drives that Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson put out there frequently.
The basics between a left-handed swing and a right-handed swing remain the same. The key factors are your posture, swing mechanics, weight transfer, and balance throughout the swing. Long drives require a wide arc thus the golfer has to keep their leading arms straight for most, if not all, of the swing.
Ball positioning plays a significant role in the driver swing as upward connection decreases the spin and increases distance. To enable this the swing must bottom out before reaching the golf ball. The best position to position the golf ball for a driver is just inside the leading (right) heel.
It is not only the horizontal positioning that is important but also the vertical position. The higher the tee, the more distance it is likely to generate. For maximum effectiveness, the golfers must be in a relaxed body posture.
Stress in the body will restrict the width of the arc and reduce the swing speed. A full backswing maximizing the flexibility of the golfers enables maximum distance that the golf club must travel and increases speed for more distance.
Weight transfer is crucial to hitting straight drives. Golfers that retain the weight on the back foot are likely to push the ball or even worse, hit a dreaded slice. Finishing with the driver shaft behind the shoulders ensures that there is no loss in speed at the bottom of the arc.
Should a left-handed person golf right-handed?
Although not a common occurrence there are a few professional golfers that use the non-dominant side. Examples of left-handed players that played as right-handed golfers are Curtis Strange and Greg Norman.
Both were left-handers who learned to play the game with right-handed clubs. They are not alone and in the professional as well as armature ranks, many others have done the same.
There is no perfect answer and it will really come down to a personal preference. Swinging a golf club feels uncomfortable for most people at first. Go with whatever works best for you. You are going to have to play with swing the rest of your life so select the option that feels most comfortable and gives you the best power and control.
An anomaly is statistically the greatest left-handed golfer of all time, Phil Mickelson. He is naturally right-handed that learned his swing by mirroring his father’s swing thus learning to play left-handed. How’s that!
The golf swing is a combination of a huge number of swing mechanics making it difficult enough for right-handed golfers. Left-handed golfers have it more difficult due to the lack of equipment designed specifically for left-handed golfers, lack of left-handed instructors, and training documentation.
What is positive is that this situation is improving and certainly better than it was in the past. Fortunately, the basics of the left-handed golf swing are not dissimilar to the right-handed golf swing except for some tweaks that can be required.
This is as a result of right-handed golfers dominating the game at approximately 85+ percent of the community. Left-handed golfers are some of the most exciting to watch due to their creativity and imagination combined with their great feel around the green.
Do not curse the situation as there is nothing that can be done. Simply embrace it and adapt accordingly. While it is certainly a challenge there are perks to being a left-handed golfer and there is no reason it should hold you back or impede your performance.
Be proud to be a minority and use it to your advantage. There is no reason a lefty can’t be an exceptional golfer. If you have any comments or feedback on this subject, please add them to the comments section below.
- Left Handed Facts, https://www.lefthandersday.com/tour/left-handed-facts
- Anything Left-Handed, https://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/
- American Golf, https://www.americangolf.com/blog/golf-tips/left-vs-right-handed-golf-2/