If you’re a left-handed golfer, you probably have a different experience of the game than right-handed players. This usually happens for a few reasons.
First off, an overwhelming amount of instructional content is designed for right-handed players. If you’re a lefty, you have to adjust the instructions to make them work for your swing. If you’re new to the sport, this is easier said than done.
The second reason is that most equipment is geared toward right-handed players. Which, if you think about it does make sense as an overwhelming majority of players are right-handed. That being said, there are more options than ever for lefties than ever before.
Plus, thanks to golfers like Phil “Lefty” Mickelson and Bubba Waston, left-handers have more options in today’s world. ***Side note — Phil is actually a righty but chooses to play left-handed.
Anyways, if you stand on the opposite side of the ball than most players but want to shoot lower scores, this post is 100% for you.
Golf For Left Handers
Did you know that according to Education and Career News, only 10% of the population are lefties? Southpaws in our sport is an even smaller percentage! According to CaddyTrek, “Left-handed golfers make up about 5 to 7 percent of the North American market. Golf pros estimate that number being an average of 1 out of every 30 players are left-handed.”
Before we dive into the best tips to help all you lefties, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons to playing as a lefty.
Advantages of Lefty Golf
While there are some disadvantages to being a lefty in a world where most golfers are righty, there are some advantages as well.
Increased Creativity and Imagination
When you think of Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson what do you think of besides both of them playing lefty? For me, it’s their insane creativity to hit shots that most golfers simply can’t pull off. Specifically, they seem to make magic at Augusta National.
Just think about Phil hitting his miraculous shot through the trees from the pine straw on the Par-5 13th to set up an eagle putt. Or, Bubba curving a gap wedge 40 yards around several magnolia trees on the par-4 10th hole to win the Masters. These shots simply aren’t human and think maybe Tiger Woods is the only other play who would even think about attempting.
But the same study from about has found, “Individuals who are left-handed score higher when it comes to creativity, imagination, daydreaming and intuition. They’re also better at rhythm and visualization.”
So if you’re a lefty, you likely have more intuition and creativity to see shots that some right-handed players might not see. In a sport where your imagination is needed day in and day out, this is a huge advantage over fellow players.
While this is random, I had to throw it in the list because I know from personal experience. Since lefties aren’t nearly as common on the course, it’s likely that you’ll get remembered by fellow players more often than not.
So if you’re joining a new country club or frequenting in local tournaments, you’re likely to stick in the memory of fellow players more frequently. Don’t forget, some of the best deals in the world are made on the course!
While there are some perks of standing on the other side of the ball, I would argue there are more disadvantages (unfortunately). But that doesn’t mean you can’t still become a great player!
Buying Golf Clubs
Arguably, the most challenging part of being a lefty is the equipment choices, specifically golf clubs. In 2020, there are more selections than ever before but lefties still miss out a majority of the time. While big names and popular clubs almost always come with right or left-handed players, smaller brands might not carry nearly as big of a selection.
For example, one of the top putting brands on the market (Scotty Cameron), only offers a fraction of the products for lefties. According to their website, they have 18 types of putters as of the posting of this article.
Yet, only five of them are available for left-handed players. This can make it tricky for lefties but it’s still a lot better than it was 10-20 years ago.
While buying equipment is a pain, gloves might be even more challenging. If you’re at a big box store like PGA Superstore or Dicks Sporting Goods you likely won’t have a problem finding a glove for your right hand. But if you accidentally forget a glove or get a hole in yours mid round, good luck finding one in the pro shop.
That being said, I always suggest purchasing several at a time and keeping them in your bag in case something happens. If you normally play with a glove and are forced to play without one, it’ll make the game that much more challenging.
While equipment and gear is one setback for left handed golfers, let’s not forget that most courses are designed for right-handed players as well. It’s not uncommon for a lefty to have to navigate more trees on the tee box as most courses are set up opposite. But once you move past the tee box and focus on irons and short game, the playing field is usually pretty equal.
Lack of Instructors & Teaching Materials
The final disadvantage of being a left-handed golfer is the lack of instructors that can teach properly. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of PGA certified instructors can teach both right and left-handed players, but not all of them.
Before working with someone, I would suggest asking them if they’ve worked with a lefty golfer in the past. Or, I would even see if you could find an instructor that is a southpaw as well. In general, working with an instructor who has a similar build to you can really help you connect and improve your performance.
Finally, even some of the best golf books are geared towards right-handed players. Books like Ben Hogan’s classic, “Five Lessons” or Tiger Woods “How I Play Golf” are all created for right-handed golfers. It takes some mental wizardry to be able to convert these tips to work for lefties.
Left Handed Golf Tips
Now that we’ve covered some pros and cons to playing lefty, let’s cover some tips to help you shoot lower scores.
Golf Grip for Left Handers
One of the biggest fundamentals in golf is having a solid grip on the club. Too weak and you set yourself up for a pull slice (the most common shot in golf). Too strong and you set yourself up for a draw that can easily turn into a hook. The key is to get your hands in a neutral position so you can consistently hit it well round after round.
While we have a full post about gripping the golf club, it is geared towards righties (sorry guys). So what is the proper grip for left-handed golfers?
Here’s how to master the left handed golf grip:
- Start by putting your right hand on the grip. You want the grip to be more in your fingers than your palm.
- Then, curl your right pinkie, ring, and middle fingers over the handle. If it’s more to the left, you have a “strong” grip that will favor a draw. If it’s too far to the right of the grip, you’ll likely play a fade more often than not. Try to be in the middle so it’s in a neutral position.
- Once you have a good hold with your right hand, then add your other hand and once again, place it in your fingers not your palm.
- Finally, roll it to the right side of the handle. This is a neutral position that will allow you to hit it straight, play a draw, and play a cut shot.
Regardless of which side of the ball you stand on, how you position your hands is very important and not talked about enough. If you notice your ball striking is going sideways and aren’t making consistent contact, always look at your grip and setup before adjusting anything else.
Golf Stance for Lefties
While a solid grip is necessary, don’t forget about your stance and alignment either. So much happens before you ever swing your club. If you aren’t aimed properly, you will make all kinds of corrections to adjust accordingly.
Whether you’re right handed or left-handed, master your stance so you can set yourself up for success. This means having your feet, hips, and shoulders in line with your intended target. If one of those is off, it can wreak havoc on your full swing.
Master Your Mental Routine
As I mentioned in the beginning, lefties tend to have more ability to visualize and use intuition to guide them in life (and golf). In this crazy sport, having a strong mental game is one of the biggest keys to success. As the great Bobby Jones said, “Golf is a game that is played on a five-inch course, the distance between your ears.”
Whether you’re lefty or not, creating a strong mindset to persevere the inevitable challenges is a huge key to lowering your handicap. Some of the fundamentals of players with champion mindset include:
- Playing the shot with the highest odds.
- Staying present throughout the entire round.
- Having fun and remembering that it’s only golf.
- Not getting mad or frustrated when things aren’t going your way.
- Sticking to a consistent pre-shot routine even if you’re playing bad.
As one of my coaches used to say, “You are not your score.” Once you learn to disassociate your score with your worth, it’s so much easier to score better and have way more fun playing golf.
Play Your Game
If you’re a lefty, own it! Don’t try to play like your buddies who aren’t. Instead, play the shots that suit your eye and use the right tee box strategy to set yourself up for the easiest approach shot.
For example, if you prefer to play a fade (right to left) tee it up on the left side of the box to give yourself the most room. On the other hand, if you want to play a draw, tee it up on the right side of the tee box. This will help you start the ball on the correct line and give you plenty of room to shape shots.
Focus on Pre-Shot Routine
While a strong mental approach is needed, another part of that is creating a consistent pre-shot routine. Since lefties tend to have more imagination and visualization capabilities, you want to incorporate that into your routine. If you ever watch Phil Mickelson on TV, you know exactly what I mean.
Phil (and a lot of other great players) get very clear about the shot they want before they even take a club out of the bag. Then, when they do choose a club, they are imagining the shot while taking practice swings that mimic the motion that is needed for the particular shot. This will help signal to your subconscious what the goal is and increase the odds of pulling it off.
So if you’re a lefty, I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a solid pre-shot routine. Not only will this help you stay present and fend off negative thoughts, it’ll help you hit the correct shot more often than not.
Do you have more questions about playing as a lefty? Check out some of the most commonly asked questions and answers below.
Is golf harder than lefties?
I would have to answer yes. While it’s better than it was the past 15-20 years, the sport is still more challenging for lefties. In fact, a lot of players are lefty and choose to play right handed just to make the sport easier.
Luckily, top manufacturers have started to add more choices but since such a small percentage of golfers play lefty, there will never be the same number of clubs available.
How do you fade a left handed golf ball?
A fade is the most common shot for the overwhelming majority of amateurs. Most players come over the top with an open club face that makes the ball go curve accordingly. If you’re a lefty, it’s the opposite and the ball goes right to left.
Do lefties have an advantage?
In general, I would say no, they do not have an advantage, if anything the sport is even more challenging. But, on some holes and certain shots they might have an advantage depending on the shot shape they play. As I mentioned in the post, a lot of lefties can also tap into more visualization which on the course could save a few shots each round.
Who are some of best left handed golf swings?
The golf pro that always comes to mind is one of the best players in the United States (and all time great), Phil Mickelson. His golf swing is nothing short of amazing and has produced an amazing display of great performances and unbelievable shots over the past 30 years. Others include Mike Weir, Bubba Watson, and Steve Flesch.
Should I golf left or right?
If you can play as a right handed golfer, the sport could be easier. I say could because there is no guarantee. If you’re a left hand dominant person, suddenly adjusting to being righty might be very challenging. If this is the case, I suggest going lefty and making the best of it (despite the challenges mentioned above).
But if you find righty isn’t that bad, stick with it. Or, you can swing right handed and putt with the opposite hand (I’ve seen it done). Remember, there’s no one way to play golf. Do whatever works best for you!
At the end of the day, to play golf left handed, lefties face the same challenges on the course that righties do. While you might not be able to find such a wide selection of golf clubs, you do have a big advantage over righty players – your imagination.
In a sport where visualization and creativity are rewarded, this is a crucial skill to have. The more that you can see a shot in your mind before you pull the trigger, the more likely you can get your body to pull it off. But don’t worry righties, you can learn how to get creative on the course but it might take a little more intentional training than lefties. If you’re a right that needs to hit a left handed shot, go here to learn how to hit a shot from your non dominant side.