Learning From Lefty

Strengthen your left side for better contact and bigger distance

I might be a left-handed lad from Leicestershire, England, but I know what it's like to swing from the right side. After all, most of my students are right-handed, so I often have to explain things the opposite way from what I know.

Of course, it's a right-handed world. Only 11% of all people are southpaws like myself, and for us, life can sometimes be like living in the reflection of a mirror. Think about all the things that we have to adapt to because they're made for righties: writing in a spiral notebook, reeling in a fish and using particular brands of computer mice are just a few of the examples. If you're a southpaw, you know that even getting your preferred set of golf clubs can be a real chore. But the upside is that this bass-ackwardness forces us lefties to be more ambidextrous. We can't rely on our dominant hand for everything, so by default, we strengthen our weaker side. The side benefit for those of us who play golf is that our weaker side is stronger, which helps improve consistency, ballstriking, contact and power. If you swing from the right and want to improve those four facets of your game, consider the following tips and drills.

My left wrist is flat, and that helps me get the club and clubface on plane. Here my left wrist is cupped, and the clubface opens dramatically. If I hit the shot with this face, it'd be U-G-L-Y.


If you're a right-handed golfer, it's important to remember that it's your left hand that controls the clubface. In particular, it's responsible for the rotational movement of the golf club. In these pictures, where my left hand is open, take note that so too is the clubface. (And of course, an open clubface leads to sliced shots.)

This likely happens because one's dominant side is trying to oversteer the shot. Instead, let your left hand rotate naturally from open to square to closed.

By practicing with just your left hand, you'll develop the correct sensation of opening, squaring and then closing the clubface through the entire swing. If you practice just hitting balls with your left hand, you'll start to not only strengthen your left side, but also make better, truer, consistent strikes.

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Here's an easy four-step process to help you swing on plane. Perfect this and you'll generate greater power and consistency from your left side.

First grip the club in your left hand and hold it directly out in front of you so the club is perpendicular to the ground. From there, rotate your wrist to the right so the club is now parallel to the ground. Next, bend over slightly, keeping the club parallel to the ground as you do so. Finally, rotate back and retain your spine angle. Notice how the butt end of the shaft is pointing toward where the ball is? By using only my left side, I've swung the club back perfectly on plane.

From here, if you'd like to, continue to swing through the ball. See how far you can hit it and how solid your contact is. Once you've done all that, place your right hand on the club but retain the feeling you had with just your left hand. Don't let your right hand get too overactive. Remember, as I wrote in the first tip, it's your left hand that controls the clubface.


Here's a drill that exemplifies the adage, No pain, no gain. Much like the last drill I showed you, this quite strenuous exercise asks you to hold the club directly out in front of you. But instead of finding the perfect plane with your left side, you're just going to build up muscle strength in your left wrist.

First, rotate the club so its shaft is parallel to the ground. After you've done that, hold it there for 10 seconds. It might not sound like a long time, but trust me, it is. After you've held it there for the allotted amount of time, rotate your wrist to the left so the club is again parallel to the ground. Again, hold it for 10 seconds.

1. Hold to the right for 10 seconds if you can. 2. Then return to center and rest your hand. 3. Rotate to the left for another 10 seconds of pain & gain.

Believe it or not, there's a reason why you should suffer through this exercise: It'll strengthen your left wrist and help you stop overswinging from the right side. I've found that this drill works very well for many of my women students and juniors, who don't have as much wrist strength as men. But men, you should try it too. I'll bet you can't do it and not feel the pain.


Here's another exercise that will strengthen your left side and add more power to your game. It's simple too. All you have to do is make a few left-handed practice swings with two clubs (I suggest mid- or short irons). The trick, because they'll weigh twice as much as one club, is to ensure that they stay together while you swing. If you let them separate, you're swinging out of sequence and out of control. If they stay together, however, you're swinging within yourself.

Swing two clubs from the left side. Keep clubs together while you swing. Finish balanced and strong.

Start off slowly by gripping the handles–you might need to grip them baseball style–so you don't hurt yourself or pull a muscle. Never swing at full speed; just feel the weight of the clubs and your left side strengthen as you swing back and forth. Once you're finished, swing just one of your clubs from the right side and notice how much stronger you feel, and how much lighter the club feels, too.

Originally from Leicestershire, England, Guy Shaw, British PGA, teaches golf at Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

2 thoughts on “Learning From Lefty

  1. Just want to tell you the I enjoy your magazazine but as a lefty I found this article frustrating. I have been forced to read instructional golf articles written from the right-handed perspective all my life. Finally, a professional lefty writes an article and he modifies it to accommodate the right-handed perspective. Can you imagine how disappointing this is for us lefties – that you couldn’t accommodate us just this once?

  2. Oh Porterhouse, look at the wax build up on these shoes I want that wax stripped off there, then I want them creamed and buffed with a fine chamois, and I want them now. Chop chop.

    Come on Mark (4/17/11). This article it is VERY simple right or left handed. I have a feeling Guy Shaw would tell you to sell your clubs and buy a left handed bowling ball… figure it out. (PS I wrote this with a right handed mouse and keyboard… OOO the humanity.)


    Judge Smails

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