Lefties on the Links: The Best Left-Handed Golfers of All-Time
Discover the best left-handed golfers in history, their achievements, and their impact on the sport. Learn about these southpaw legends who defied convention.
by Jake Tingey & Judd Lyon · Updated: 4/9/23
Jake Tingey, Golf Expert
Jake is a lifelong golfer who loves keeping up with the latest golf news and equipment.
Judd Lyon, Web Developer
Judd is the tech guy behind Front Nine Golf with a huge slice.
Left-handed golfers have always held a unique position in the sport of golf. Although lefties make up only a small percentage of golfers, they have made a significant impact on the game and produced some of the most memorable moments in golf history. Some of the greatest players of all time have been left-handed, and they have left an indelible mark on the sport.
This article aims to explore the history of left-handed golfers and highlight some of the best players of all time. We will examine their achievements, contributions to the game, and the challenges they have faced as left-handed golfers. Through this exploration, we hope to shed light on the unique role lefties have played in the sport of golf and celebrate their accomplishments.
Phil Mickelson is one of the most successful left-handed golfers of all time. Born on June 16, 1970, in San Diego, California, Mickelson began playing golf at a young age and quickly showed a talent for the game. He played college golf at Arizona State University, winning three NCAA individual championships and earning All-American honors.
Mickelson turned professional in 1992 and quickly established himself as one of the top players on the PGA Tour. He has won 45 PGA Tour events, including five major championships: the Masters Tournament (2004, 2006, 2010), the PGA Championship (2005), and the Open Championship (2013). He has also won three NCAA individual championships and has been a member of five Ryder Cup and 12 Presidents Cup teams.
Mickelson's achievements and records are numerous. He is one of only five golfers to have won three of the four major championships in a career, and he has finished as the runner-up in the U.S. Open a record six times. He is also among only 12 golfers to have won at least five major championships, and he has spent over 700 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking.
Mickelson's impact on the sport of golf is significant. He is known for his aggressive style of play, short-game prowess, and willingness to take risks on the course. He has also been a vocal advocate for the sport, participating in numerous charity events and promoting the game through his philanthropic efforts. His success as a left-handed golfer has also inspired and encouraged other lefties to pursue a career in golf.
However, in recent years, Mickelson has also been in the news for controversial statements and decisions. In 2022, he made comments supporting the Saudi-backed LIV Golf despite Saudi Arabia's record of human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the execution of gay people. As a result of these comments, Mickelson lost sponsors Amstel Light and KPMG. He also announced that he would be stepping away from golf to spend time with his family and would miss the 2022 Masters Tournament and PGA Championship, which he won in 2021. However, he later decided to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, beginning on June 9, 2022. This decision resulted in the PGA Tour suspending him and 16 other current and former tour members for participating in a conflicting event without permission from the tour.
Overall, Phil Mickelson's career has been nothing short of remarkable. He has cemented his place in golf history as one of the greatest left-handed golfers of all time, and his impact on the sport will be felt for generations to come. However, his recent controversies highlight the complexity of his legacy and the challenges public figures face in navigating ethical dilemmas. It remains to be seen how his involvement with LIV Golf and his suspension from the PGA Tour will affect his reputation and career moving forward.
Regardless of the outcome, Mickelson's career is a testament to the unique role left-handed golfers have played in golf. Lefties have defied convention and overcome challenges to achieve success on the course, inspiring future generations of left-handed golfers to follow in their footsteps. The rise of left-handed golfers is a testament to the inclusivity and diversity of the sport, and we can expect to see many more lefties impacting the course in the years to come.
Bubba Watson is a two-time Masters Tournament champion and one of the most recognizable left-handed golfers on the PGA Tour. Born on November 5, 1978, in Bagdad, Florida, Watson began playing golf at a young age and turned professional in 2003.
Watson's career highlights include 12 PGA Tour victories, including the Masters Tournament in 2012 and 2014 and the Genesis Open (formerly the Northern Trust Open) in 2014 and 2016. He has also been a member of three Ryder Cup and four Presidents Cup teams.
Watson's achievements and records include being one of the longest drivers on the PGA Tour, averaging over 310 yards off the tee. He is also known for his creative shot-making and ability to shape the ball in unusual ways, including his signature shot, the "Bubba fade." Watson has spent over 50 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking and has earned over $50 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
Watson's unique playing style and influence on the game are noteworthy. He is known for his unorthodox swing and ability to hit shots that other players wouldn't even attempt. Watson has also been a vocal supporter of charitable causes, including raising money for cancer research through his Bubba Watson Foundation.
Watson's impact on the sport extends beyond his accomplishments on the course. As one of the most visible and popular left-handed golfers, he has inspired other lefties to pursue a career in golf and has helped to raise the profile of left-handed golfers in the sport. His creative shot-making and willingness to take risks have also helped to push the boundaries of what is possible on the golf course.
Overall, Bubba Watson's career has been marked by both success and creativity, and his influence on golf is significant. He has earned his place among the best left-handed golfers of all time, and his legacy will continue to be felt for years to come.
Mike Weir is a Canadian left-handed golfer who has significantly succeeded on the PGA Tour. Born on May 12, 1970, in Sarnia, Ontario, Weir began playing golf at a young age and turned professional in 1992.
Weir's career highlights include eight PGA Tour victories, including the Masters Tournament in 2003, the Nissan Open (now known as the Genesis Open) in 2003, and the Tour Championship in 2001. He has also been a member of four Presidents Cup and three World Cup teams.
Weir's achievements and records include being the first left-handed golfer to win the Masters Tournament and the only Canadian golfer to win a major championship. He has spent over 110 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking and has earned over $27 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
Weir's contributions to Canadian golf are significant. He has been a vocal advocate for the growth of golf in Canada and has inspired a generation of Canadian golfers. He has also been a philanthropist, supporting charitable causes such as the Mike Weir Foundation, which raises money for children's health and education initiatives.
Weir's impact on the sport extends beyond his accomplishments on the course. As one of the most successful left-handed golfers, he has helped to raise the profile of lefties in the sport and has inspired other left-handed golfers to pursue a career in golf. His dedication to the sport and his contributions to Canadian golf has also helped to grow the game in Canada and worldwide.
Overall, Mike Weir's career has been marked by both success and contribution, and his influence on golf is significant. He has earned his place among the best left-handed golfers of all time, and his legacy will continue to be felt for years to come.
Bob Charles is a New Zealand left-handed golfer widely regarded as one of the pioneers of left-handed golf. Born on March 14, 1936, in Carterton, New Zealand, Charles began playing golf at a young age and turned professional in 1960.
Charles' career highlights include six PGA Tour victories, including the Houston Champions International in 1963 and 1969 and the Kemper Open in 1974. He also won 23 events on the Australasian Tour and was a member of six New Zealand World Cup teams.
Charles' achievements and records include being the first left-handed golfer to win a major championship, the 1963 Open Championship. He also finished in the top 10 of the Open Championship five times and was the runner-up in the U.S. Open in 1968. Charles has spent over 100 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking and has earned over $1 million in career earnings on the PGA Tour.
Charles' pioneering role for left-handed golfers is significant. He helped to break down barriers for lefties in the sport and inspired other left-handed golfers to pursue a career in golf. He paved the way for future left-handed golfers to succeed on the PGA Tour and in major championships.
Overall, Bob Charles' career has been marked by both success and pioneering contributions, and his influence on golf is significant. He has earned his place among the best left-handed golfers of all time, and his legacy will continue to be felt for generations to come.
Other Notable Left-Handed Golfers
In addition to the five left-handed golfers highlighted in this article, several other notable lefties have made significant contributions to the sport. Here are a few more left-handed golfers who deserve recognition for their achievements and impact on the game.
Steve Flesch is a left-handed golfer who has enjoyed a successful career on the PGA Tour. Born on May 23, 1967, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Flesch turned professional in 1990 and has won four PGA Tour events. He is also known for his consistency on the course, having made over 500 cuts in his career. Flesch's influence on left-handed golfers is noteworthy, as he has inspired other lefties to pursue a career in golf and has demonstrated that left-handed golfers can succeed at the highest levels of the sport.
Phil Blackmar is a former left-handed golfer who enjoyed a successful career on the PGA Tour before transitioning to golf broadcasting and media. Born on July 27, 1957, in Texas, Blackmar turned professional in 1980 and won three PGA Tour events. He later transitioned to golf broadcasting and has been a CBS Sports and the Golf Channel commentator. Blackmar's impact on golf broadcasting and media is significant, as he has brought a unique perspective as a former left-handed golfer to his commentary and analysis.
Eric Axley is a left-handed golfer who has played on both the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour. Born on April 22, 1974, in Athens, Tennessee, Axley turned professional in 1997 and won two Korn Ferry Tour events. He is also known for his contributions to the game through coaching and mentorship, having worked with several young golfers and as an assistant coach for the University of Tennessee men's golf team. Axley's cannot be overstated. As one of the few Canadian golfers to succeed at the sport's highest level, Weir has inspired many aspiring golfers in his home country. Additionally, his charitable efforts, particularly through his Mike Weir Foundation, have significantly impacted the lives of children and families in need.
Ted Potter Jr.
Ted Potter Jr. is a left-handed golfer who has overcome significant adversity to succeed on the PGA Tour. Born on November 9, 1983, in Ocala, Florida, Potter turned professional in 2002 and has won two events on the PGA Tour, including the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Potter's journey to success, which included a serious ankle injury in 2014 that nearly ended his career, has inspired other left-handed golfers and demonstrated the importance of perseverance and determination in achieving one's goals.
Bob Gilder is a left-handed golfer who has enjoyed significant success on the senior golf circuit. Born on January 6, 1951, in Corvallis, Oregon, Gilder turned professional in 1972 and has won ten events on the PGA Tour and 20 events on the Champions Tour. Gilder's success on the senior tour is noteworthy. He has demonstrated that left-handed golfers can continue to compete at a high level as they age and has inspired other left-handed golfers to pursue a career on the senior tour.
Russ Cochran is a left-handed American professional golfer with a unique career path. He played college golf at the University of Kentucky and turned pro in 1980. After several years on the PGA Tour without a breakthrough win and injury setbacks, he found success on the Senior PGA Tour. Cochran has won five senior tournaments, including two major championships, and his left-handed swing is considered one of the smoothest and most consistent on the tour. Cochran's story of perseverance and determination serves as an inspiration to golfers of all ages and backgrounds
The Rise of Left-Handed Golfers
Left-handed golfers have made significant strides in the sport over the years. Increased representation on the professional circuit and factors contributing to the growth of left-handed golfers have helped shape the game's landscape.
Increased representation in professional golf
While left-handed golfers were once a rarity on the professional circuit, the number of lefties competing at the highest levels of the sport has increased significantly in recent years. Notable left-handed golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and Mike Weir have achieved significant success on the PGA Tour, paving the way for future generations of left-handed golfers to follow in their footsteps.
Factors contributing to the growth of left-handed golfers
Several factors have contributed to the growth of left-handed golfers in the sport. One such factor is the increasing availability of left-handed golf clubs and equipment, making it easier for lefties to get into the game and compete at a high level. Additionally, advancements in sports science and technology have helped to level the playing field between left-handed and right-handed golfers, allowing lefties to succeed.
The Future of Left-Handed Golfers
Left-handed golfers have defied convention and conquered the world of golf. From Bob Charles, the pioneer who paved the way for future generations of lefties, to modern-day legends like Phil Mickelson, left-handed golfers have left an indelible mark on the sport. Their achievements, contributions, and challenges have helped to shape the landscape of golf and inspired future generations of left-handed golfers to pursue a career in the sport. As the number of lefties in golf continues to grow, we can expect to see even more exciting moments and inspiring stories from this unique group of athletes.