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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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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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