The not-so-new social movement allowing southpaws to feel right at home on Aussie fairways
Mahatma Gandhi once proclaimed, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” And golf’s cold, hard truth remains to this day – left-handers get the raw end of the stick.
This scribe must declare he speaks on this touchy subject with experience, for his southpaw tendencies have often left him questioning his sense of belonging in the sport he loves.
For starters, it’s a dog’s breakfast trying to find the right clubs and specifications without putting in special orders. Heck, some manufacturers don’t bother releasing certain models for ‘mollydookers’ at all!
It’s practically impossible to find a driving range bay that’s set up for a lefty’s stance. Demo days and retail racks are too often devoid of lefty options. Golf gloves for the right hand are as rare as an albatross. Oh, and making sense of golf instruction, whether it be reading from this fine magazine or deciphering your coach’s right-sided moves? Pffft! Forget about it.
But unbeknown to many, there’s a revolution happening on our fairways and it’s being orchestrated by those who allegedly stand on the wrong side of the ball. Incredibly, it’s a social (golf) movement that started all the way back in 1964 when four cacky-handed golfers at Brisbane’s Nudgee Golf Club decided to form a club to attract other lefties from across the region. Some 57 years later, the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers of Australia (NALGA) lives on, holding events across the country including its 55th national championship later this year on the Murray River.
“Our club isn’t something that’s been going for five minutes, but there’s no doubt we haven’t done a great job of telling people we exist,” says Colin Holdsworth, president of the NALGA’s Riverina division in New South Wales.
Holdsworth knew there was a slight “PR issue” when he had to travel some 13,000 kilometres away from home to learn about the social club he now calls home. “I only found out about the NALGA in 2013 while I was on a golf trip in the Canadian Rockies,” he laughs. “But from that point on I started playing in NALGA open days and made it a mission of mine to help spread the word because it’s such a wonderful club of like-minded lefty golfers. We get left-handed players of all ages coming together and extend that invitation to their families to join us, regardless of whether they’re left or right-handed golfers.
“What we do, as an organisation, is provide and promote playing opportunities for left-handed golfers and their partners all around the country and, where we can, help subsidise the costs of playing those events.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests left-handed participation rates in golf hover between the 10 and 15 percent mark, and despite the NALGA’s member growth hitting the brakes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holdsworth is confident the club’s recruitment campaign will once again pick up the pace as it nears its national championships, locked in for November this year at Tocumwal Golf Club. The 72-hole tournament will include a $30,000 Volkswagen vehicle up for grabs as a hole-in-one prize, along with a host of other prizes. But as with any good golf event, the real success is in the company you keep, not the scorecard you mark.
“We know we’re still a minority in the golfing world, but with eight NALGA divisions around the country all aiming to host seven or eight events a year, we’re confident we can attract more members who’ll add our events to their golf calendar,” Holdsworth says.
“Once they experience the camaraderie of the NALGA family, they’re hooked.”
And if that isn’t inspiration enough to join, turning the tables on the right-handed majority certainly has its appeal, according to Holdsworth.
“It’s funny – at our Yarrawonga event recently we copped a bit of heckling on the practice putting green because 18 of the 20 people putting were left-handed!” he laughs. “They’re starting to understand how us lefties feel every time we walk onto a golf course.”