Golf is hard enough but if you want to make things even harder, try to hit a shot with your opposite hand.
Instead of going to Google mid-round to search “How to hit a shot from a non-dominant side” learn the basics today. That way you can hit a few of these shots in practice and hopefully be prepared for anything you might face on the golf course.
I once had a coach always say to make practice as hard as possible. That way when you do play golf it feels easier and hopefully, have all the shots in your arsenal.
How to Hit a Shot From Non-Dominant Side
Imagine hitting a wayward drive to find your ball stuck next to a tree, cactus, bush, or other obstacle. What do you do?
Attempt to find a stance and swing? Switch hands and try to hit a shot left-handed? Take an unplayable lie and penalty stroke?
Honestly, it depends on the situation as there are so many unique scenarios in this great game. But if you find yourself with the option to hit it backhanded and it’s better than taking a drop, we have you covered.
- Hitting a shot from your non-dominant side is challenging but doable if you have the right technique.
- Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a drop and penalty stroke instead of trying to play left-handed.
- It’s recommended to practice these types of difficult shots in practice so that you aren’t trying them for the first time on the course.
Keep reading to learn how to hit a shot backhanded.
Step 1: Fully Assess the Shot
With any approach shot or chip out the most important thing you can do is assess the shot. Too many amateur golfers move through this process quickly and lose a lot of shots on strokes gained in this category.
With any second shot, you want to have a good approach shot strategy. That means using a rangefinder, GPS, or golf watch to understand the total distance, ideal target, and the best place to miss. Not to mention assessing the lie, wind, and other weather conditions.
But this is even more important when it comes to a shot that might require you to hit it backhanded. If your ball is up next to a tree or other obstacle on the golf course, you want to first assess the lie of the ball.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Can I play this normally?
- Where should I try to advance the ball?
- Is it better to take a drop vs. try to play a hero shot?
- Is it sitting up in the rough or pine straw? Or, is it sitting down?
The number one objective with any recovery shot is to get the ball back in play and avoid a big number. This might mean taking a drop, or if the situation is okay, hitting the ball from your non dominant side.
Step 2: Find Your Weapon
Once you decide it’s time to play a little hero golf and escape the trouble, you need to find the right weapon for the shot. It’s best to play a mid-iron as it has enough loft and it’s easy to twist the club backward to hit the shot with the toe of the club. I like to use a 7 or 8-iron as it’s not too long and has plenty of loft to get the ball back in play.
You’ll also need to reverse your grip which will feel very strange. As a right-handed golfer it’s weird to feel your left hand low on the grip (unless you have a cross handed putting grip). Even still, it’s weird with a full club in hand.
Step 3: Take Plenty of Practice Swings
After getting a hold of the club you want to pick a target – just like a normal approach shot. Get clear in your mind where you want and don’t try to hit this shot too far.
Once you get a good target it’s time to take some practice swings and feel out the shot. Hopefully you will have practiced even a few times on the range or short game area so it’s not foreign on the course. If not, you should take even more practice swings.
You don’t want to do much with this shot as it’s a simple chip out, not a full swing. Try to take the club about knee height like a standard chip shot and focus on accelerating through the ball. You’ll want to take a small amount of grass or dirt (depending on the lie) to get the ball back in play.
You won’t need a huge stance either. Keep it narrow and place the ball more in the middle of your stance to get slightly steeper through the shot. It might also help to have more weight on your front leg too.
Step 4: Commit to the Shot
Once you’ve gone through your practice swings and picked a target, it’s go time. But one of the most important things you can do is to stick to your pre-shot routine. One of the biggest mistakes most amateur golfers make is slowing down and taking too long on difficult shots. This only makes things more difficult and allows too much time to let doubt and fear creep in.
Instead, commit fully to the shot and stick to your normal routine. Studies have found that great routines are 8-seconds or less from the time you’re over the ball in your stance to completion. Finally, accept the result and move on (or maybe laugh off a bad shot).
Step 5: Practice on the Range
The Golf Gods will throw a lot of challenges your way so it’s important to practice these types of shots in practice. On the short game area or at the range practice a back handed shot and others like:
- Plugged bunker lie.
- Fried egg bunker shots.
- Awkward lies on the short game area.
- Fairway bunkers (by filling divots with sand and practicing from there).
Make practice difficult so you’re ready for anything on the golf course.
Bonus: Hitting a Toe Putt
Believe it or not there are times when you might need to do a similar shot on the greens.
This is known as a “toe putt” where you hit the ball with the toe of your putter, not the face. You can see Vijay Singh, Kevin Na, and other pros hit this miraculous shot on YouTube.
You might wonder why you would need this shot?
Typically, because the ball is up against the collar of the rough and the fringe. It’s hard to hit a normal putt since the grass is so thick and chipping might be difficult too.
This is why a toe putt (assuming you have a blade putter) can help you out. The ball pops out like a chip shot then rolls like a putt – it’s the best of both worlds.
In practice test out this shot too and follow these steps:
- Maintain the same grip but twist the putter so you’re hitting it with the toe not the face.
- Make sure to take your normal putting stance so you’re more upright over the ball than a pitch shot.
- Get more weight to your lead side so you can hit the ball with a descending blow and have it pop out of the grass.
- Hinge your wrists slightly and try to “stab” the ball to get it out and roll on the green. Expect the shot to come out “hot” and fast so plan accordingly.
Ideally, this shot should only try to go a few feet in the air then start rolling like a putt. Maybe you’ll make it and have a memory for life!
I recently played in a golf tournament and the 4th hole had my number. I missed it right in the trees several times and one time I was faced with this awkward situation.
The ball was right next to a bush and there was no way I could hit it right-handed. But the lie was good and had a clear area to chip out plus the drop wasn’t very good so I decided to go left-handed.
My goal was to chip the shot about 30 yards into the fairway so I could attempt a good third shot. I followed the steps above, taking my time and practicing and executing it. Unfortunately, I hit it too well and went through the fairway but wasn’t in any trouble.
This gave me a good third shot into the green and nearly saved par but the putt didn’t drop. Thankfully I had practiced this a few times at the driving range to get the hang of it.
Golf will keep testing you until the end of time so make sure to practice all types of shots on the range. Including left-handed (or right-handed if you’re a lefty) so you’re ready to escape trouble on the course.
While it’s a fun shot to pull off, it’s not always the right move. If the lie or stance is terrible and the drop + penalty shot is better, take it. Use course management skills to avoid blowup holes and big numbers that derail your round.
Finally, don’t forget to practice this shot on the driving range alongside others to have more options on the course.