How Many Golfers Are Left-Handed?

The answer to how many golfers are left-handed may surprise you

Phil Mickelson for How Many Golfers Are Left-Handed GettyImages-954738402
Phil Mickelson is naturally right-handed, but learnt to play golf by copying his father in mirror image
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How Many Golfers Are Left-Handed 

As to how many golfers are left-handed depends on what exactly is meant by this. Is it how many golfers play left-handed, or how many of those who golf are actually left-handed in their day-to-day life? This matters as the answers are very different.

It is reckoned that about 10% of the population is left-handed, with men slightly more likely to be left-handed. This figure is different in various parts of the world. In the USA is reckoned that just over 13% of the population are left-handed; in the UK, just over 12%. Whereas in China, it is estimated that only 3.5% of the population may be left-handed.

Yet when it comes to people who play golf left-handed, that is with their right side nearest the target, it is a much lower figure. It is calculated that only 5-7% of golfers play left-handed.

Many natural left-handers have played golf right-handed. Among them are Major winners Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Nick Price, Jordan Spieth, Curtis Strange, Johnny Miller and Greg Norman.

One of the main reasons why left-handed people take up golf right-handed is the lack of equipment for left-handed golfers. Especially in times past, left-handed clubs were not readily available, particularly the hand-me-down clubs that children typically get given to learn on.

Added to this is that it is easier to learn golf right-handed as all the instruction literature and videos tend to presume a right-handed golfer. Golf Monthly’s Dan Parker, himself a left-handed golfer, has explained some of the other difficulties of playing golf left-handed.

Although many left handers play golf right handed, so too do some right-handers play left-handed. Indeed, all the Major winners who have won playing left-handed are naturally right handed – Phil Mickelson, Bob Charles, Mike Weir, Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

Growing up, Mike Weir had noted that “it seemed that all the best players were right-handed. There were only a few PGA tour players that were left-handed and only one Major champion, which was before my time, in Bob Charles.” So when he was 13 years old he wrote to Jack Nicklaus, his golfing hero, to explain that he wanted to become a top professional golfer and so should he switch to playing right-handed. The reply is now framed on his wall: It said “No, I believe you should stick to your natural swing – stay left-handed. The fundamentals apply to both sides of the ball, left and right-handed and good luck in your dreams.”

Jordan Spieth, a left-hander who plays right-handed, when asked what advice he would give a junior golfer unsure which way round to play replied: “try both and go with whichever one you’ve got more power with.”

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.