Most people are right-handed, and the rest are either left-handed or ambidextrous. Golf is one of the sports where you have to decide if you want to play left-handed or right-handed. So, who has the advantage when comparing left-handed and right golf?
Neither left nor right-handed golf has an advantage over the other. Most people will play and improve their game significantly better if they play with their dominant hand. But, if you are ambidextrous or want to try out your other hand, swing both types of clubs and see what is more comfortable.
This article explains the difference between right and left-handed golfers and whether or not being left-handed gives you an advantage. Then, I go over whether or not you can golf with your non-dominant hand and if that gives you an advantage or not. As a leftie myself, you’ll get my personal experiences and insight on the subject.
Right vs. Left-Handed Golf
There is no advantage no matter which side you golf on, but there are some differences when you compare right and left-handed golfers. As around 90% of people are right-handed most golfers play with their dominant hand. Nonetheless, the main differences between playing with either hand are:
- Where you stand
- Which way your club faces
- How you grip the club
First, the side you stand on depends on which hand you play with. Right-handed golfers stand on the left side of the ball with the hole to their left. Left-handed golfers stand on the right side of the ball, and they are swinging towards the hole on their right.
And, it’s not just which direction you face. Your club also faces a certain way depending on which side you golf on. A right-handed golf club has the golf face facing to the left, which is the same direction you swing towards.
And – you guessed it – left-handed golf clubs to have the club face open to the right. When a left-handed golfer swings to the right, the club face makes contact with the ball in the same direction.
Finally, how right and left-handed golfers grip the clubs differs. Your dominant hand always goes on the bottom of the grip with your non-dominant hand above it.
If you are playing right-handed golf, your right hand is below the left, and if you are playing left-handed, your left hand is below your right. If you are left-handed but playing right-handed, your right hand is your dominant hand, and vice versa.
The final difference between the two types of golfers is which hand your glove goes on. Left-handed golfers wear their glove on their right hand, and right-handed golfers wear their glove on their left hand.
Is Golf Harder To Play Left Handed?
As a born and bred left-hander my answer is definitely no! Because even after trying for some time to do so I just can’t play the orthodox way. But why is there this myth that golf is harder to play left-handed? Is it because there have been so few great left-handed golfers?
When in tennis, several true greats of the game such as Laver, Conners, McEnroe, and Navratilova have all favored the ‘south-paw’ stance! And crickets all-round ‘GOAT’ Sir Gary Sobers played the game left-handed with a style and grace which has never been seen before or since.
Yet in golf, only ten Major men’s titles have been shared between four different left-handed players, one of whom won six himself.
New Zealander Bob Charles became golf’s first left-handed Major winner when he won golf’s oldest major, The Open in 1963 in the tournament’s 92nd year. The left-handed drought then continued for forty more years until Mike Weir won the 2003 Masters.
Then with the emergence of the two leading left-handed players of all time Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, eight titles were won in the next twenty years. One more Open, five Masters, and two PGA titles were shared between them.
For a time with their swash-buckling styles, they made it ‘cool’ to play left-handed. Mickelson even became the oldest winner to date of a Major when he won the 2020 PGA Crown.
Yet few have followed.
The US Open has still yet to be won by a left-hander, and to my knowledge, no Women’s major has ever been won by a left-hander.
So, the question of whether golf is harder to play left-handed therefore must be asked.
In some sports, left-handedness is even seen as an advantage. Left-handed baseball pitchers and left-handed bowlers in cricket are seen as treasured possessions by many clubs and coaches. Yet this does not appear to be the case in golf.
There are several reasons given, but few hold up as a defining answer in my opinion, as to if it is harder to play golf left-handed. Let’s look at the most common.
Many manufacturers do not see the economic sense of producing a full range of clubs for left-handed players when left-handers only make up 10% of the population. Thus, left-handed players may have put in extra legwork to track down the latest and most stylish gear.
This simple fact made natural left-hander and golfing great Ben Hogan switch to playing golf right-handed as a boy. As he says in his world-renowned coaching book Five Lessons it was due to the ‘local commercial conditions.’ Basically, his local sports retailer did not stock any left-handed equipment!
Many say right-handed coaches just want to coach right-handed players as it’s easier/more natural for them and actively promote left-handers to switch.
Most will state that control is gained from the left hand/top hand of a right-handed player, and thus switching will improve their game as their left hand is more dominant and will pull the club through the swing more smoothly.
Also, at some driving ranges with automatic ball feed options, there might only be one set for a leftie, and if, by chance, another left-hander arrived at the same time as you, you could be waiting an hour before you get to practice.
Many people express the theory that courses are designed to favor right-handed play as this suits most of the population. I think this is complete nonsense as over 18 holes a good golf course provides all sorts of challenges to suit every type of player regardless of if they draw or fade the ball, etc.
For example, where I play at Bentham Golf Club in North Yorkshire, the second shot on the par 5 fourth hole is notoriously difficult for a left-hander as the ball usually lies below your feet as the fairway slopes steeply from right to left.
But on the fifteenth (par 4), you are paid back wonderfully as the fairway slopes the other way, thus becoming a right-handers problem!
True, when plotting your way around a course a left-hander might prefer to aim to a different side of the green from a right-hander so that he uses any slopes to aid his put. Again as on the fairways, a gentle left-to-right slope is always most helpful.
But from the tee, a predominantly right-handed drawer of the ball and a predominantly left-handed fader of equal distance in length would probably aim for the same spot of fairway most of the time as their ball fight is similar.
My only major gripe on course as a left-hander is in winter. In England, mats are often used to tee off from, and I find myself having to tee the ball up in the mud left behind from the right-handers’ shoes!
Does Being a Left-Handed Golfer Give You Advantage
In general, being a left-handed golfer does not give you an advantage over being a right-handed golfer. The same is true for right-handed golfers not having an advantage over left-handed golfers.
However, there are a few rare situations where you might find an advantage in being a leftie over a rightie or vice versa:
- If your ball ends up next to a hazard like a tree, water, or a bunker, you might have a hard time hitting the ball, depending on where it lands.
- If you are a left-handed player, and your ball is to the left of a water hazard, you will have to stand in the water to hit the ball.
- If you are right-handed, and your ball is to the right of a tree, the tree is right where you need to stand to hit the ball. But, if you were left-handed, the tree would be opposite to where you need to stand and not in your way.
I mentioned golf courses above and the claim that certain golf courses are better for left-handed golfers than right-handed golfers. There are one or two exceptions.
For example, Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters are held, is said to be made for left-handed players. Many recent Masters winners have been left-handed, and the left-handed players continually discuss how much they enjoy playing there.
Can You Golf With Your Non-dominant Hand?
You can always play golf with your non-dominant hand if that is more comfortable for you. Even though most people play with their dominant side, it is not necessary to do so by any means, and you can choose how you want to play.
In fact, there are even professional golfers who play with their non-dominant hand. Jordan Spieth, a PGA Tour player, and a multi-tournament winner is left-handed, but he golfs righty.
He golfs with his non-dominant hand because it feels more comfortable for him, and he gets more power from that side. And now that he has practiced and played so much with his right side, it feels most natural for him, and he has successfully played that way.
Another example is Phil Mickelson, who is right-handed but plays leftie. His father taught him to play as a kid. His Dad was right-handed, but Phil would stand in front of him and mirror what his dad was doing, meaning he swung leftie. This swing stuck over time; now, a left-handed swing feels most natural to him.
However, you will have to choose just one hand. Golf clubs are not changeable, so if you have a set of left-handed golf clubs, you will have to always play left-handed. The same is true for right-handed golf clubs. You cannot switch your clubs easily unless you have two sets and choose which one to play each round.
FAQs on Right vs. Left-Handed Golf
Should a Left-Handed Person Play Golf Right-Handed?
A left-handed person should not necessarily play golf right-handed. They should practice swinging a club both ways and see which way feels more natural and suits them better. A left-hander will find greater success hitting the ball for distance and accuracy from their dominant side.
Difference Between Right and Left-Handed Golf Clubs
The head of a right-handed golf club is the only part different from a left-handed club. There is no difference in the shafts of either right or left-handed clubs as they are not specifically designed for either right or left-handed players. The only exception is putters as shafts may be bent.
There is no advantage for right-handed golfers over left-handed golfers or lefties or righties. The only advantage you may have is if your ball lands near a hazard, and it would make for a harder shot if you were an opposite-handed player.
Or, if you are playing on a course like Augusta National that favors lefties, you may also have an advantage. But overall, there is no clear advantage for either golfer, and you should play on the side that is more comfortable for you.
Yes, there are a few obstacles in the way of the left-handed golfer, such as being prepared not to play with the latest style of clubs. Golf is not harder to play left-handed it just gives different challenges.