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Starting from Scratch (Episode 1): GolfWRX Editor switches to lefty

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As a right-handed Division I (Rutgers University) golfer, I underwent spine surgery at 20-years old, which effected the lower right portion of my back. Eight years later, I’m a trending-up-2-handicap who deals with back spasms after nearly every round of golf or practice session, and a lingering left wrist injury — neither of which are very good for a right-handed golfer. Extremely frustrated with golf and my body, I’m officially announcing my retirement as a right-handed golfer. BUT, I’m not retiring from the sport I love.

Going forward, I will be switching to playing golf as a left-hander. The left-handed swing puts significantly less pressure on the lower right side of my back and my left wrist. Therefore, I’ll be able to continue playing golf by switching sides, and get back the passion to practice and improve.

The problem? I’ve never played golf lefty and I’m not ambidextrous. I write, throw, bat, swing, play pool, play darts, everything as a righty. For 28 years, I’ve played golf righty.

As your fearless GolfWRX Editor, I’ll be documenting the entire process through written articles, photos, podcast updates, video and social media posts (@tg2wrx on Instagram). I’ll explain what it’s like to start the game as a beginning golfer, and the process I take to improve. I’ll document lessons, club fittings, performance assessments, rounds of golf, and practice sessions on my quest. Hopefully, I’ll be writing the blueprint for how to go from a terrible golfer to a nineties shooter. Hopefully.

My goal is to break 100 (on a regulation golf course from the “white” tees) before Labor Day. My co-host on Two Guys Talking Golf has bet against me for a publicly undisclosed sum, and I’ve also been taking many side bets, as well. My mission for the summer is to prove everyone wrong.

Watch Episode 1 of the series to see my first swings as a lefty.

Starting from Scratch: Episode 1

 

Week 1 and 2 highlights

  • Whiffed once while attempting to hit a 6-iron. I’m just happy it only happened once.
  • Went to a big box store to buy used golf clubs. Wow, buying equipment as a lefty is just as difficult as left-handers have been telling righties their entire lives. I bought a 64-degree SureOut wedge — I need the most forgiveness I can get
  • Purchased the rest of my set online for less than $500! We will be posting a “What’s in the bag” video in the coming weeks. Spoiler alert: I got some VERY forgiving stuff.
  • Watched a video from Shawn Clement — who is scratch as both a lefty and a righty — saying right-hand dominant golfers playing lefty should feel the club pulling with their right arm. It feels like a backhand stroke in tennis, and I’m thinking this will be a good swing thought moving forward
  • Grinded at the short game area almost every night until the rest of my clubs came in. Short game is feeling really good. Just working on hitting down on the golf ball and making consistent contact near the center of the face.
  • One night after work, I went to the short game area at my local course, and realized no one was playing. Although I didn’t feel ready to take my game to the course, I decided to play 9 holes. And I shot… 50!! (Par 35; 2,810 yards.) Very encouraging.
  • Check out @tg2wrx for a ridiculous flop shot I hit over the trees during my first round as a lefty
  • Shot 44 on a mini golf course putting lefty… yikes. Gotta reduce those three putts.

Thoughts from a left-hander

Overall, the most work is going to be getting mid-to-long irons in the air, and reducing slices/top/shanks off the tee. If I can simply get the ball in the air and hit it somewhere around the center of the face, I believe I can plot my way around a golf course to break 100. Bunker play is a huge concern still, so I’ll want to avoid bunkers at all costs. Other than that, I need to practice more. More range balls, more chip shots, more pitch shots and more putts. I need to continue getting comfortable hitting golf balls from the “wrong” side.

Tune in next time to see my WITB and how I’m faring as a south paw.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Soonerslim

    May 26, 2018 at 10:50 am

    I have played golf right-handed for over 40 years. I’m naturually left-handed, throw, bat, write, kick, etc as lefty. Learned golf right-handed because of dad’s clubs. I now have right lower back pain issues, left knee miniscus issues, CMC issues in my left hand, etc. I have considered trying to start playing golf left-handed to alleviate some of the strain on this painful issues. Has anyone else that is naturally left handed tried to switch from right to left? If so, how did it work out?

  2. Cliff Hartman

    May 25, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I know a guy who is Director of Golf at a Golf Digest top 100 club. He was an all conference college player, played mini tours for a while, even shot a 59 once at the club he works at. His right side of his back started bothering him so much he tried playing lefty and found out it did not hurt his back. After doing this for the last 3 years he is down to an 7 handicap and loves pursuing this new way of playing golf. Good luck to you!!

  3. Mark

    May 21, 2018 at 10:07 am

    I am going to be a touch pedantic here and am so doing because the author of this article writes for a living. This statement -“I’m officially announcing my retirement as a right-handed golfer” – is incorrect; unless of course he was employed and remunerated for being a right-handed golfer. If he was not, then all he has done is to give up playing right handed.

  4. Par3

    May 20, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Wouldn’t a modified approach to your right hand swing make more sense? Getting help for, addressing your injuries with therapy or swing changes. Who’s to say swinging lefty will alleviate your injuries? A combination of swing change, equipment modification and possibly dialing back swing speed would seem more effective than starting over as a lefty.

  5. Tucsonsean

    May 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

    If nothing else, it’ll give you empathy for those of us who whiff, shank, thin, and chunk our way around the course (for years), despite our using our dominant hand.

  6. Evan

    May 20, 2018 at 8:21 am

    if your goal is to reduce injury and still enjoy the game you love, their is no reason you couldn’t still putt righty. can’t imagine that would give you injury issues

    • Tocino

      May 21, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      I was going to say, you could probably still putt right-handed based off of the injuries you stated in your article. At any rate, good luck! Looking forward to see your progress

  7. Devilsadvocate

    May 20, 2018 at 6:21 am

    The name of this series is confusing… I know what you mean by scratch but that’s already a different term when it comes to golf… starting over or back to basics would make more sense… other than that very cool

  8. Bob

    May 20, 2018 at 4:22 am

    Gets custom fitted for PXG and then switches to lefty.. Hmmmm….

  9. Paul

    May 19, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Same problems here with pain as a lefty. I just play less, but I stash a right handed club in the bag for practice.

  10. rymail00

    May 19, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Its definitely doable. A guy at our course had the shanks so bad or and injury cant remember the the reason, anyways he switched from right (as a low single digit handicap), and ended up switching to lefty maybe 5 or so years ago and is now a mid-high single digit handicap playing lefty.
    Its definitely doable…

  11. George

    May 19, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Does right handed putting put stress on your back too? Then why don’t you keep putting the way you did for 28years. There‘s no rule forbidding a lefty to putt righty.

    • Matt

      May 19, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. If putting feels good for the back and wrist no reason to change.

  12. PapaJohick

    May 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    hey you’ve got the twirl down perfect!!!

  13. SK

    May 19, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    So you believe you can convert to a left handed golf swing by grabbing a lefty club and swinging with abandon?!! Can you hit a baseball left handed? Can you hit a tennis racket left handed? Perhaps you should abandon the lefty golf clubs and develop a basic lefty rotatory swing that your body can accommodate and engram more easily. 😎

  14. Jim Thomas

    May 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    As a 5 handicap I have been fighting some early extension for years. I have actually considered going lefty to start from scratch with no ingrained muscle memory moves and much more knowledge of the golf swing then I had when I started 20 years ago as a righty. I have a lefty 7 iron and try to remember if the first time I swung a golf club righty if it feels as awkward as it does to swing lefty. Good luck I will be following!

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TG2: GolfWRX Forum Member “Warrick” explains his love for Mizuno irons

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GolfWRX forum celebrity “Warrick” explains what he loves so much about Mizuno irons, where he got his name from, how he became a gear head, what’s in his bag currently, his all-time favorite golf course and more. Also, GolfWRX equipment expert Brian Knudson talks about playing Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan for the first time.

Checkout the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Golfholics Course Review: Spyglass Hill Golf Course

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In this new course review series, Marko and Mike from Golfholics provide their takes on the golf courses they’ve played around the world. The first episode starts with the famed, yet often overlooked Spyglass Hill. Enjoy the video below, and don’t forget to check out more videos from Golfholics on their YouTube page!

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Redkacheek’s DFS Rundown: 2018 CJ Cup

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Wow, what a crazy start to this season! Not only has the cheat sheet and slack chat plays over at the Fantasy Golf Bag been on complete fire, but the new golf betting model has now hit on two outrights and one FRL in back-to-back weeks! We get a much better field this week so definitely plan to keep this heater going here at the CJ Cup this week. Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up for the first time since being named the 2018 POY, along with guys such as Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Paul Casey, Billy Horschel, and our new favorite Sungjae Im. As you can see, this will be a fairly exciting event for a setup as similar as last week’s tournament.

Let’s go ahead and take a look at this course and see if we can pinpoint some key stats to take us to another Big GPP win or at least a couple good choices for an outright win.

The CJ Cup will be played at the Club at Nine Bridges, a 7,196 yard par-72 golf course in South Korea. Although this may appear like a similar course to TPC Kuala Lumpur last week, this one will play quite significantly tougher. As you can see below, in 2017 there were more bogeys than birdies for the week which doesn’t happen much outside of majors. Justin Thomas won last year’s event after shooting 63 in the first round but failed to break 70 the following three days. JT finished at nine under, which tied Marc Leishman, who coincidentally won this last weekend (2019 Fall Swing narrative). So why so tough if it appears so short? Let’s take a look.

So first off, let’s get this out of the way first. These greens are brutal. No joke; these greens were the single most difficult greens to putt on all of last year. Everything from one-putt percentage to 3-putt avoidance, these ranked the No. 1 most difficult on Tour all year. But here’s the problem: We all know putting is the single most variable stat, so using SG:P will tend to lead to a very disappointing pool of players. For example, coming into last year the players ranked Top 10 in SG:P finished 11-33-47-40-28-64-36-26-71-36, respectively. There is a still a stat that helped fine-tune player pools last year that I will recommend this year: my first key stat to consider this week is 3-putt avoidance.

The next section here I will just briefly touch on the driving accuracy and GIR percentage for this course. It is very average for the PGA Tour…that is really all you need to know. Driving accuracy ranked 48th and GIR percentage ranked 38th in 2017. This course is not difficult tee-to-green, plain and simple. I will certainly add the usual SG:T2G this week along with GIR percentage, but this course will favor most guys this week.

So besides putting, why are these scores so poor considering the appearance of an easy course? Well besides putting on these greens, scrambling here is brutal. Scrambling also ranked No. 1 most difficult here last year but again, this is a stat that is extremely tough to see useful trends. I will, however, encourage you to use SG:ARG to help narrow down your player pool more efficiently.

Remember that this segment of the Fall Swing will not yield strokes-gained data, so we must only utilize the traditional stats the PGA Tour keeps. On top of all the micro-scoring stats mentioned above, let’s take a closer look at this course from a macro level. This will be fairly straightforward when building your model. The par 4s here are extremely difficult, so add SG:P4 Scoring to your research (par 3 scoring is also very difficult but sample sizes are usually too small to include each week). Par 5 scoring was difficult as well but there is a better stat we can use than the P4 scoring mentioned above. The final stat we will be using is simply bogey avoidance. This will do a fantastic job of incorporating T2G, scrambling and putting into our model/research.

Overall this course is really an amazing layout but will pose a difficult task for the players. Just like last week, I encourage you to ease into the season by playing light and also primarily playing GPPs.

With all that out of the way, let’s get into my core plays for this week…

Justin Thomas (DK $11,600)

Justin Thomas finally makes the core writeup. After a mediocre finish last week (5th place), he comes to Nine Bridges as the defending champion. Ironically, he beat out Marc Leishman, last week’s winner, in a playoff last year and I think he is going to be the guy to pay up for over $10k. JT won both CIMB Classic and The CJ Cup last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t leave this leg of the Fall Swing (Asia) without a win. There’s a lot going for him outside of his recent form and course history (if that wasn’t enough), he ranks first in both SG:T2G and SG:APP, second in par 4 scoring, eighth in bogey avoidance and finally, surprisingly, 11th in 3-putt avoidance. If you are building only a few lineups this week, I think JT should be in around two-thirds of them.

Byeong-Hun An (DK $8,700)

Mr. Ben An makes the list again! Byeong-Hun An received a lot of praise from both Jacob and myself on the FGB Podcast last week and he did not disappoint with a 13th place finish, and really a strong chance to win going into the weekend. As part of a common theme you will see here, Ben An is the kind of consistent ball-striker to rely on each and every week. On the PGA Tour in the last 50 rounds, he ranks third along with a strong ranking in bogey avoidance (third) and GIR percentage (also third). He did play this event last year, finishing 11th at 4-under par, and if it weren’t for a final round 73 he had a realistic chance for the win! The price on Ben An is getting a little steep but I think we can still get some value out of it this week.

Kyle Stanley (DK $8,200)

Kyle Stanley should be considered a core play almost every week he is under $9K on DraftKings. One of the most elite ball strikers on Tour, ranking ninth in SG:T2G, 11th in SG:APP, sixth in GIR percentage and 14th in par 4 scoring, he sets up for another solid top 20. Last week Kyle finished 13th in Kuala Lumpur and now comes to Nine Bridges where he ended the tournament in 19th place last year. Kyle tends to be very “mediocre” so upside for a top 3 always seems to come sparingly during the season, but you still cannot ignore his skills at this price.

Charles Howell III (DK $7,700)

Charles Howell III is a lock for me this week. Coming off a strong showing last week (T5) but also an 11th-place finish at this event last year, he grades out as one of the strongest values this week at only $7,700. CH3 hadn’t played on the PGA Tour for over a month before appearing at Kuala Lumpur, causing him to fly well under the radar on his way to a solid top five finish. Always known as a superb ball-striker, Howell actually rates out 16th in bogey avoidance and 10th in 3-putt avoidance, both key stats for this golf course. Additionally, CH3 ranks inside the top 20 of both par 4 scoring and GIR percentage. In a no-cut event on a difficult ARG golf course, count on CH3 to gain enough placement points to pay off this solid price tag.

Ian Poulter (DK $7,600)

Ian Poulter may be extremely sneaky this week. We haven’t seen him since the Ryder Cup and most people that play DFS have severe recency bias. Poulter is a grinder, and considering the winning score should only be around 12-under par with lots of opportunities for bogeys, he should keep the wheels on all four days and have a chance on Sunday. One of the most surprising stats for me in my research on Poulter is that he ranks first in 3-putt avoidance, along with some impressive tee-to-green stats where he ranks inside the top 25 of all of my key stats mentioned above. Why is the 3-putt avoidance stat so important? As I noted in the course preview, these were the single most difficult greens to putt on last year with the worst 3-putt percentage. Outside of the key stats, it does seem like this course fits his eye as he finished 15th here last year. Ian Poulter will be another core play but I think he may come in quite under owned from where he probably should.

Joel Dahmen (DK $6,900)

Chalk Dahmen week is upon us and I am going to bite. Dahmen has been a DFS darling this year and last week was no different. Dahmen ended up finishing 26th which was largely due to a poor final round 71, which dropped him 11 spots. Even with that poor finish he was able to pay off his sub-$7K price tag, which is where we find him again this week. Dahmen ranks top 10 in this field in several key stats, including: SG:T2G, SG:APP, and bogey avoidance. If you need some salary savings but unsure about anyone under $7K, Dahmen should be your first look this week.

Also consider

Brooks Koepka
Jason Day
Marc Leishman
Paul Casey
Ryan Moore
Sungjae Im
Kevin Tway

Good luck this week everyone!

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