Do I Swing Left or Right With Golf Clubs?
If you’re planning to take up golf, be ready for a game that requires good body control and hand-eye coordination. Playing golf can also improve your fitness, particularly if you carry your clubs instead of riding a cart. As with any sport, you must learn the fundamentals when you start, including the direction from which you’ll swing your clubs.
Knowing Your Right From Your Left
If you're a right-handed golfer playing a shot, your left side should point toward the target area while your right side should point away from the target. From the perspective of standing along your target line facing the tee, you should stand directly to the right of the ball if you're right-handed. If you're left-handed and facing the ball, stand on the ball's left side.
Acquiring the Correct Golf Clubs
Golf clubs are specifically designed for right- and left-handed players. When you purchase your first set of clubs, therefore, right-handed players should ask for right-handed clubs. If you don’t make your first purchase from a golf retailer -- perhaps you shop at a garage sale, for example -- hold the club in front of you with the clubhead on the ground. If you’re right-handed, the clubhead’s grooves should point to your left. If the club is a putter, the smooth side should face left. If both sides of the putter appear smooth, check the clubface’s angle, because the hitting surface should be lofted very slightly.
Lefty Is Righty
Even though right-handed players almost always swing from the right of the ball, there is no rule that says they must do so. If you’re beginning from scratch, you may start on either side you wish. Phil Mickelson, one of the PGA Tour’s best golfers, plays left-handed and is nicknamed “Lefty.” Off the course, however, Mickelson is right-handed. He began learning the game at around 18 months old by mirroring his father’s movements. Because his father was right-handed, Mickelson began swinging left-handed and has done so ever since. If you're a new golfer, go to a driving range with a right- and left-handed club -- most ranges will rent clubs to you if you don't have your own -- and try swinging from both sides of the ball. Choose the side that feels better.
You may occasionally hit the ball near an obstruction that prevents you from swinging normally. In these cases, a right-handed player may be better off swinging from the ball’s left, or vice versa. In his book “My 55 Ways to Lower Your Golf Score,” Jack Nicklaus describes a shot that landed 2 inches to the right of a tree. In other words, the tree sat where Nicklaus -- a right-handed player -- would normally stand. In this type of situation, Nicklaus recommends holding a 5-, 6- or 7-iron backwards and swinging left-handed. Stand to the left of the ball and then flip the club so the clubface is aimed at the ball. Hold the club the way a left-hander would, with your right hand on top, and then take the best swing you can. Nicklaus hit his left-handed shot 150 yards toward the green.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.