Q Why aren't there more left-handers in pro golf?
A Lefties abound in most sports, and some of the greatest athletes ( Babe Ruth, Bill Russell, Martina Navratilova, Steve Young) were portsiders. Yet there's a distinct dextralism in golf. The PGA Tour has only six lefties, the LPGA one. Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open champion, is the only left-hander to have won a major.
Blame a market bias for the lack of links lefties. Most sports don't require specialized equipment for left-handers—a basketball can be dribbled with either hand—but southpaw golfers need left-handers' clubs, which until recently were hard to find. "It was as if we were from a different planet," says Kevin Compare, a left-handed instructor at the PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Fla. "If someone had eight sets of clubs in his shop, none were left-handed." That's why natural lefties like Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Johnny Miller took up the sport from the right side.
Lately, however, the emergence of southside swingers like Phil Mickelson (above) and Mike Weir has led equipment makers to increase production of left-handed gear. Also important is the precedent set by these stars. As Greg Chalmers, a Tour pro who plays lefty, says, "If I were a left-handed kid today and someone suggested I switch to righty, I'd say, 'Hey, playing lefty works for Phil Mickelson. It could work for me.' "