What Is the Difference Between Right & Left Hand Golf Clubs?

By M.L. Rose
Mike Weir is one of the PGA Tour's more successful left-handed golfers.
Mike Weir is one of the PGA Tour's more successful left-handed golfers.

Rule 14-1 of the Rules of Golf says the ball “must be fairly struck at with the head of the club." Golfers cannot effectively swing a club the way you might swing a croquet mallet or use a pool cue. They must stand on either the right side or the left side of the ball relative to the target, which means the club head must be shaped for either a right-handed player or a left-handed player. If a right-handed player tries to swing a left-handed club from his normal position, he’ll hit the ball with the back of the club face.

Club Components

The only difference between right-handed and left-handed golf clubs -- other than putters -- lies in the club head. Neither shafts nor grips are built specifically for a right-handed or left-handed player. In other words, a right-handed club head may be attached to any shaft to create a right-handed club. Putters are exceptions to this rule because putter shafts may be bent. Many putter shafts are designed for either a right-handed or left-handed player.

Club Heads

If you place a right-handed club head on a flat surface, with the bottom of the club head laying flat on the surface and the club face directed toward you, the hosel (the portion of the club head that attaches to the shaft) will be angled to the right. In a left-handed club, the hosel will be angled to the left. To hit the ball with the club face a player using a right-handed club stands to the right of the ball, from the perspective of the target, just as a right-handed baseball player stands to the right of home plate from the pitcher’s point of view.

Respect for Lefties

Just as the majority of the population is right-handed, most golfers are also right-handed. Nevertheless, major manufacturers make left-handed versions of many golf clubs. Most published golf instruction is written for right-handers, so lefties must reverse the directions. On the other hand, left-handed golfers do have their own national organization, the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers, which holds a championship tournament each year.

Swinging Upside-Down

Occasionally an errant shot may leave your ball against an obstruction, such as a tree, that prevents you from taking your normal right- or left-handed swing. PGA Tour pro Jerry Pate, who’s a righty, says that when faced with a situation in which he can’t take a right-handed swing he uses a 5- or 6-iron and swings it basically upside-down. Instead of the club head’s sole touching the ground at address, the club head’s toe will touch the ground. Pate takes a left-hander’s stance, chokes up on the club, then employs a long putting stroke to get the ball out of trouble.

About the Author

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.

Photo Credits

  • Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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