The Success and The Failures of Lefthanders in Sports
Why Not More Lefthanded Golfers?
While almost every sport has shown some bias against lefthanders, the game of golf has strongly been stacked against lefthanded play since its inception. The earliest lefthanded golfers were ridiculed, scorned, and banned from play at many courses. Gradually over the years the bias has eased, and today the comments are more in jest. But it is still more difficult for lefthanders to find golf clubs, and much more difficult for them to find lefthanded instruction to help learn to swing those clubs properly.
Even today, lefthanders who want to play golf will almost always face some resistance and listen to all the reasons why they should play the right way. But once they get those lefthanded clubs in their hands and see how natural it feels to swing them, there is no turning back. The hard part is getting them into their hands, and trying them of few times, without having to go out and buy a brand new set. Many golfers get started with clubs that were already in the family, or bought at a garage sale or on EBay, or rented from the golf course or driving range. The odds of a finding a set of lefthanded clubs these ways is slim and lefthanders are often forced to buy new clubs before they can even start to learn.
When golf club manufacturers first began to make lefthanded golf clubs, the initial selection was limited and much more expensive than equal quality righthanded clubs. They made the mistake of making too many high-end clubs for established golfers, and they did not offer enough starter sets and lower-priced clubs for beginners, which would have helped more lefthanded golfers get started in the game.
Today there is a much better selection of lefthanded golf clubs available, especially for adult males, but lefthanded women golfers and lefthanded junior golfers still have a hard time finding them. Most large Sporting Goods Stores or Golf Specialty shops keep a few sets of lefthanded clubs in stock, and they are able to special-order other sets for lefthanders. There are plenty of sources for lefthanded golf clubs on the internet, including Lefties Only Golf Shop in Burlington, VT, who has been selling lefthanded clubs and shipping them all over the world for over 30 years. But ordering them over the internet is not the same as finding them in a store and heading out to the driving range.
Once a lefthanded golfer does get their clubs they face the daunting task of learning to use them. Watching the pros on television, or on You-Tube Videos, might provide some inspiration, but not much specific instruction. There have been a couple of good basic instruction books for lefthanded golfers, including one by Bob Charles, but written instructions and still pictures aren’t always enough. There are more lefthanded golf instructors now than twenty or thirty years ago, and if are in Florida, Arizona, Nevada or California you can probably find one. There are a lot of righthanded golf instructors who are good at teaching the fundamentals to lefthanders, but there are many others who are not.
There is also an organization called The National Left-Handed Golfers Association that has been running amateur tournaments for lefthanded golfers since the late 1930’s. They continue to hold many local, state, and regional events, and a national tournament that attracts golfers from across the country and from around the world. Their motto is…:”It’s better to stand on the wrong side of the ball and hit it right, than to stand on the right side of the ball and hit it wrong.” The NLHGA has given a lot of lefthanded golfers a chance to compete, but they have never focused on making more instruction available to help more lefthanders get in the game. That is where our future focus is going to be.