Why left-handers make better golfers

It's all to do with brain co-ordination

Bob Warters's picture
Fri, 28 Mar 2003
Why left-handers make better golfers
Why left-handers make better golfers
Mickelson – star left-handed golfer.

Many scientists believe that left-handers have a distinct sporting advantage and as a left-hander who plays golf right-handed, I’d have to agree.

Apparently it’s the perfect combination for hand eye co-ordination.

The brain consists of two hemispheres which perform different tasks, and it’s believed that in left-handers these functions are more evenly distributed between the two sides making the brain more symmetrical.

For example, in a left-handed tennis player the controls of movement and space management are performed on the right side of the brain. Therefore the process of seeing the ball coming and hitting it are dealt with by the same half of the brain.

In a right-hander this visual information has to be transferred to the opposite hemisphere to direct a player's movement, adding an extra 20 or 30 milliseconds to the reaction time. Hardly significant, you’d think but it can be decisive in world class sport where a significant number of the world’s best tennis and table-tennis players are left-handers.

But it’s not simply a question of speed. Some researchers think that left-handers posess enlarged right hemispheres, giving them superior spatial skills to co-ordinate their movements and reactions.

Half the best fencers in the Olympics are lefties while two of the world’s top eight golfers, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir, play cack-handed - even both are naturally right-handed.

With Mickelson he learned to play the game watching his dad and swung the club as a mirror image.

Though he plays the game right-handed, Arnold Palmer is left-handed. Ben Hogan was, too. Other famous left-handed sportsmen include Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Pele and Maradona. Left-handed leaders included Napoleon and Churchill while Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo and Rubens painted with their left hand.

British psychologists Charles Wood and John Aggleton, reckon the sporting advantage is more likely to be tactical than neurological. In cricket, left-handed bowlers have the benefit of unfamiliarity and the ability to deliver the ball from a different angle and move in the opposite direction to their right-handed counterparts.

Sadly in golf, lefties are put at a distinct disadvantage in the variety of equipment available to them. Two or three of my regular playing colleagues tell me how frustrating it is to find some drivers, irons and wedges – and particularly putters - available solely for right-handers.

Left-handers of all ages and interests will be able to benefit from a range of innovative new products being launched this month by specialist retailer Anything Left-Handed Ltd, at their shop in London’s Brewer Street and on their website www.anythingleft-handed.com.

They include the first ever left-handed camera, garden & DIY equipment and children's developmental games as well as a range of household and stationery products.

No golf products are mentioned but at least this feature may alert you to the reasons why sport is a prime example of left-handers’ superiority!

Tell us on the forum if you have difficulty in obtaining left-handed equipment and where’s the best place to find it.