The number of left-handed people in the world is said to be around 10 percent, but on the PGA Tour, the number reduces to five percent. While several right-handed golfers have reached heights, only a handful of lefties are famous in professional golf. Recently, Jake Knapp, who made his eighth PGA Tour start at the WM Phoenix Open, revealed that he was initially a lefty but was forced to become right-handed.
At an early age, when he first swung a golf club, it was of his elder brother’s. He did whack the golf club with great pull and force, but there was one problem. He was hitting the ball with the back of the club. However, his father forced him with a right-handed club saying that they could not afford two kits.
“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,” Knapp said. “Golf was forced on my right hand.”
It is not just Jake Knapp who had to force himself to become a right-handed golfer, but a lot of other players tend to do the same. The biggest reason behind this is the availability of lefty kits at the local golf stores. Although things have gone online, the game of golf requires a lot of testing before buying clubs to see if the preferred club is right or not.
Another reason why the number of lefties in pro golf is less is that there has been a social stigma prevailing in many countries forcing the kids to switch to right hand. Some claim that golf courses across the world are built to suit right-handed golfers. However, Garrick Higgo clarified this by saying,
“There’s certain holes (that are better for righties) and vice versa,”he said. “It also just depends what shape you hit the ball. I don’t really believe in (there being a disadvantage to being lefty),” Higgo said at Palmetto Championship in 2021.
The most apt reason why lefties are so less in pro golf is affording the lefties kit for young players. Parents might find it tough to afford multiple kits if they have two or more kids. Also, the player may find it difficult to get top-notch quality lefty products.
Who Are Some Top Lefty Players In Pro Golf?
The list of successful right-handed golfers is quite long. Starting from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, all of them were right-handed players who achieved great heights on the PGA Tour. But, when it comes to lefties, the list gets shorter than what anyone could think of.
However, that does not mean there are no lefty golfers who have been successful in pro golf. During the early 60s to late 70s, a shining black-haired Kiwi golfer named Bob Charles became a dominant force in the game of golf. In 1963, he won the Open Championship to become the first lefty golfer to win a major tournament.
Canadian golfer Mike Weir is best known for being the first lefty golfer to win the Masters Tournament. He achieved the feat in 2003 and is also the only player from Canada to win a major tournament. He has recorded a total of eight victories on the PGA Tour.
Bubba Watson, who is currently signed with LIV Golf, is another famous lefty player in pro golf. The American is a two-time Masters Tournament winner and has a total of 14 professional titles under his name.
Phil Mickelson is probably the most successful lefty golfer ever. His sensational short game is often talked about by the entire golfing fraternity. He is a six-time major champion. The famous lefty golfer has a total of 57 professional titles, out of which, 45 have come on the PGA Tour and 11 wins on the DP World Tour.
The newest addition to the list of talented lefties in pro golf is Brian Harman. The 2023 Open Championship winner has surprised the world with his amazing skill set in the past few years. He has already recorded three victories on the PGA Tour.
With technology and accommodability getting better day by day, the number of lefties in pro golf may increase in the future. There could have been times when the left-handed players might have found it tough to get the right equipment. But the time is changing and accessibility have become better.