Left vs. Right-Handed Golf

Have you ever wondered if being left-handed put you at a disadvantage in your game? Are there reasons one may be favored over the other? With Golf pros estimating the number of left-handed players on average to be about 1 out of every 30, we thought it would be a good idea to look into this and find out the truth. After all, being a left-handed golfer used to mark you out, and though left-handed clubs and players are more plentiful today, most golf courses are still designed for right-handed play.

Modern consensus seems to lean towards the fact that it doesn’t matter much. “I don’t think there’s much difference between playing right-handed or left,” said T.J. Balhon, assistant general manager of the Diamond Bar Golf Course near Los Angeles, California. “I happen to be left-handed, and I tried hitting right-handed, but it didn’t help my game. My feeling is, if you’re left-handed, you should play that way.”

Even course design appears to not impact a golfer’s chance of being good at the game. Most of the dogleg holes on golf courses play from left to right, and when a pin is in a difficult spot, it’s usually placed at the back left corner of the green, which is more accessible for a right-handed shot. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an exceptionally good left-handed golfer. According to statistics, approximately 12 percent of golfers are left-handed, and six of the pros on the PGA Tour are lefties.

In the old days there was a shortage of left-handed clubs because golf manufacturers didn’t bother to produce them in mass. However, more clubs are available for left-handers these days.

Pros whose winning left-handed play endeared them to lefties include Bob Charles and Phil Mickelson. Interestingly, for reasons unknown, Canada has more left-handed golfers. Approximately 30 percent of their players are left-handed, including Mike Weir.

“I see a lot of players in tournaments who are left-handed,” Balhon said.

Diamond Bar Golf Course is located on a sloping, tree-lined landscape, with 18 holes and greens composed of Poa annua (bluegrass). “This is not a short course,” Balhon noted. “It measures out at 6,801 yards.” You might think the ability to switch hit in golf could come in handy. Let’s say your ball is up against a tree stump on the wrong side for your swing. But golf is not like baseball, where a left-handed batter would do well against a right-handed pitcher.

“I play right-handed, and no, I don’t carry a left-handed club with me to switch hit just in case,” said Eric Westerman, head pro at The Tribute at the Colony Golf Course near Dallas, Texas. “I would use a right-handed club flipped over.”

Flipping a club over means to get the ball away from a tree stump, the right-handed golfer would turn the club clockwise and flip the club head to the opposite position. Thus, the right-handed player would be able to make a left-handed shot, without using a left-handed club. “I’ve done it a few times and it worked for me,” Westerman said.

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