22 Sep NICK O’HERN: GO THE LEFTIES!
NOW call me biased, but left-handers really do make for better golfers.
To me, golf is more art than science, although elements of both are certainly required. Given we use the creative side of the brain more than righties, it makes perfect sense that lefties tend to be more artistic on the golf course. Cases in point: Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. With their flair for creativity, they definitely lead the imagination stakes on tour these days.
We are also more suited to certain golf courses, especially a couple of the most iconic ones in golf – St Andrews and Augusta National. I always feel very comfortable at St Andrews because all the out-of-bounds and most of the trouble is on the right side of each hole. Usually, there’s another hole to the left running parallel, so with my back to the trouble on the right, I aim up the left side knowing I have plenty of room to hit the ball.
At Augusta, a high right-to-left ball flight is the ideal shot shape, a fade for us. It’s much easier to control than a draw for the righty. The prerequisite these days for Augusta being you need to be a ‘long-hitting’ lefty (cue Mickelson and Watson again, sadly not me). Seven holes dogleg from right to left while only two go the opposite way and three of the four par 3s favour us (4, 6 and 12). If there was ever a cacky-handers hole in golf, the par-3 12th is it. Our pull is long right and push is short left, perfect for the hole. The opposite is in effect for right-handers, disastrous for them (just ask Jordan Spieth the past two years). In the 12 US Masters from 2003 to 2014, six times a lefty wore the green jacket, an incredible ratio given the number of lefties actually playing.
I don’t think I’ve seen a bad left-handed putter, although Watson does stretch that opinion from time to time. But hey, he’s won two green jackets and you can’t do that without rolling the rock well. Greg Chalmers is up there with the best putters I’ve seen in person, while Sir Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open champion is one of the greatest putters in history and used a Bulls Eye putter – enough said!
Equipment now is not an issue for lefties, but growing up there wasn’t exactly a plethora of options. The main reason I used a Ping putter my whole career was because it was the only company that made a broomstick putter when I started down that path. Nowadays just about everyone makes a left-handed version.
Whether you are left or right-handed, the fundamentals of the golf swing are the same. However quite a few lefties I see out there have similar traits, so here are my top-five lefty tips:
1. Strengthen your grip by trying to see at least three knuckles on your right hand. A weak grip leads to a slice.
2. ‘Square up’ your shoulders at address. Lefties tend to aim right with their shoulders.
3. Hit shots with your feet together. It helps you feel where the clubface is and gets you rotating your hands correctly through the ball.
4. Finish your follow through so you are balanced and up on your left toe. Most lefties fall back as they hit the ball.
5. Tell people to p–s off when they say, “You should stand on the right side of the ball!”
So to all my fellow mollydookers out there – Happy National Left-Hander’s Day this month, on August 13.
“There have been some great left-handed golfers over the years but Phil Mickelson would have to be the best I’ve seen. When you look at his record from the junior, amateur and pro ranks, he’s been pretty darn impressive for long period of time.”