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‘Golf was forced on my right hand:’ There are few lefties in pro golf

‘Golf was forced on my right hand:’ There are few lefties in pro golf

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When Jake Knapp was just three years old, he picked up his brother’s old golf clubs for the first time and started taking some whacks. But there was one glaring problem: He was hitting the ball with the wrong side of the club.

Knapp, 29, who made the 2024 WM Phoenix Open his eighth start on the PGA Tour, used to play with his brother’s right-handed golf clubs, but felt more comfortable swinging lefty.

“I started taking swings lefty and (my dad) put a right-handed club in my hand and was like ‘We’re not paying for two sets of clubs, you’re getting hand-me-downs from your brother,’” said Knapp, who plays hockey right-handed and is a switch-hitter in baseball.

“Golf was forced on my right hand.”

Knapp has been a right-hand dominant golfer ever since. And, surprisingly, his story is less unique than you’d think. While left-handed individuals make up approximately 10 percent of the worldwide population, only about five percent of PGA Tour golfers are lefties.

What’s even more perplexing is that left-dominant people are actually overrepresented in many other racket and bat sports. Roughly 15 percent of professional tennis players, and 30 percent of baseball, cricket and table tennis players are southpaws.

Like Knapp, many young left-handers have a hard time finding golf clubs — especially higher-end golf clubs — at their local golf shops.

“You hardly ever see anything on the shelf for lefties,” said James Ridyard, a short-game coach for a handful of PGA Tour golfers. “If someone wants something that is the higher end equipment-wise, you’re much less likely to see it left-handed in the store.”

As a result, many of these young southpaw golfers do exactly what Knapp did — they switch their dominant hand and opt to play right-handed.

“There’s a lot of right-handed golfers who are left-handed people,” said Sean Foley, a swing coach for several tour players and junior golfers. “I have three guys who are left-handed, but play golf right-handed.”

There might be a sociological component at play, too, which forces lefties into using their right hand from a young age, even though that may not be what’s natural for them.

“When a kid starts writing left-handed, [in many countries] they convert him to right-handed,” Foley said. “There are so many guys who started playing golf left-handed and then they said ‘No, you’ve got to switch to right-handed.’ Being left-handed has some negative…


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