Mastering the Left-Handed Golf Swing: Essential Tips and TechniquesPublished on 06/20/2023 · 6 min readBeing a left-handed golfer can feel a bit difficult in a world where most golf gear is catered to right-handed players! Here's a few tips to make things easier.
Phil at Kiawah. Photo by Andrew Shelley
Golfing from the “other side” is certainly one of the more unique ways to experience and enjoy our great game. While the world, in general, has a left-handed population that hovers around 10 to 12 percent, when it comes to golfers, that percentage goes down to five to seven percent. That being said, it does seem that more and more lefties are coming out of the woodwork, even at the higher echelons of the game. Us southpaws have to stick together, so here I am with a few tips for you that will hopefully take your performance in a better direction.
1. Watch Your Favorite Lefties on TV
For a long time, one of the best golfers on the face of the planet was also one of the few professionals who swung it from the left side. I am, of course, referring to Phil Mickelson. As the preeminent left-handed golfer on Tour, he carried the mantle for us for a long time—although it was another lefty, Mike Weir, who became the first lefty to win the Masters. I remember watching that specific tournament, as well as the one the following year, and I thought to myself: “If I could somehow model my swing after these guys, I'll be alright.”
Nowadays, we have Bubba Watson, Robert McIntyre, Garrick Higgo, and I'm sure many others who will make their way onto a TV screen near you. While it’s often helpful to pick things up from touring pros, watching the left-handed ones specifically will give you a better idea of skills such as body movements and swing positions, because you’ll be able to relate to the players. Plus, it serves as an excuse to watch more golf. There can’t be a problem with that!
2. Push Back With the Right, Pull Through With the Right
I recall this Golf Digest instruction article which summarized the golf swing in two movements: You push the club back, and you pull it through. Going a bit deeper into this simplification, the left-handed golfer needs to push the club back with the right hand, as opposed to the feeling of pulling back with the left hand, on the backswing. On the way down, there is still the feeling of using the right hand, this time with a pulling sensation.
This brings me to an important point: employ the feeling of using a backhanded motion through the ball. Two great examples of this are indeed Phil Mickelson (who is actually right-handed, but flipped his swing as a youngster so he could mirror-image his father) and Jordan Spieth (who throws and writes with his left hand).
In my personal opinion, I believe beginners should eschew the left-handed/right-handed golfer label and instead base their golf swing on whichever side they would use for a backhanded motion. But, that’s a discussion for another article!
But if you already play golf as a lefty, this tip can basically be summarized as: use your right hand instead of your left.
3. Use Mirrors and Swing Sequences to Your Advantage
As we start to develop our golf swings, we may or may not find it extremely helpful to use a Tour professional’s (or some other better player’s) swing to model our swings after. This is not a philosophy that works for everyone; although if you do feel that this could help, have a discussion with your coach/instructor about which players' swings you like and how you could possibly incorporate those moves into your own swing. Employing the use of a full-body mirror, so that you can check positions and movements without needing a video camera, can aid greatly in this.
Taken a step further, you can even seek out and print or download the swing sequences of your favorite players. The swing sequences presented in golf magazines, or even YouTube videos of your favorite players can be a great starting point. Use this as a visual template for what you’d like to see in your own swing. A bonus is that if the player is righty, you will not have to go through the mental gymnastics of flipping the image of their swing in your head. Since you already appear right-handed in the mirror you’re using to check your swing, it becomes as easy as “monkey see, monkey do.” This tip can be of great aid if you are working with a swing coach/instructor, or even if you are self-taught. Use every advantage you can find.
4. Figure Out Your Dominant Eye
To determine your eye dominance, turn your gaze onto a fixed point a good distance away. Close your eyes briefly, then open them again to refocus your vision. Next, create a “viewfinder” with your hands and look for that fixed point. Slowly bring your hands closer to your face, until they are covering your face. Whichever eye you can see through, that is your dominant eye.
When it comes to shooting a gun, for example, some people shoot right-handed, even though they are left-eye dominant. This means that they are shooting cross-eyed, and would have to employ certain special techniques to compensate for that. In golf, it would be the same scenario. If you were a true lefty (left-side dominant, golfing left-handed, and left-eye dominant), this means that your trail eye is the basis of your bifocal vision. That can have certain implications on your golf swing, such as how far back your backswing can go, if you feel the need to rotate your head towards the target before even making contact with the ball, etc. I myself shoot cross-eyed, so to speak. That is: I am right-side dominant, golf lefty, and am right-eye dominant. This makes certain things easier for me in the golf swing, like having an easier time swinging through on the downswing because my dominant eye has an easier time looking at the ball, as well as having a better peripheral sense of where the target is.
Determining which eye is your dominant one can help unlock certain aspects of your game, allowing for more fine-tuning and therefore may help you get better.
5. Find and Play With Other Lefties!
My last tip is, of course, to find other lefties to play and enjoy the game with! Not only will you get off on the right (left?) foot with each other, being able to relate so quickly, but you can also take those conversations deeper. Discuss topics such as course management (some courses suit left-handers better than righties), equipment brands (maybe even trades and swaps!), and swing theory. Remember, we’re all out here to have fun, so have fun with it!
So there you have it! From one lefty to another, those are the five tips I can give to those enjoying our great game from the “other side”. There are plenty of different ways to skin a cat, just as there are many different ways to swing a golf club. One way is not necessarily better than the other—it’s just different. So embrace those differences! I have personally employed these tips, and I saw my game go from strength to strength during my golf journey. Here’s hoping they will help you as well. If you have any other golf questions feel free to reach out to a Golf Expert here on Curated for one on one advice, we'd be happy to help you improve your game!