LEFTIES SOMETIMES ARE LEFT OUT.
Phil Mickelson has made it cool to be a left-handed golfer. He's earned his nickname -- ``Lefty'' -- because that's how he plays. Mike Weir is probably better known for being left-handed than for winning the 2003 Masters.
But that doesn't mean it's any easier for southpaws to find clubs.
Mickelson has his clubs custom designed, but the average Joe Hacker must buy on the Internet or in stores.
Golfsmith in Woodland Hills has more left-handed clubs now than they did when manager Marlin Memjibar began work there a couple of years ago.
``We pretty much carry all (brands),'' Memjibar said. ``We have 20 different vendors. We cover all of the manufacturers. We don't have a lot of quantity, but we do carry them. Most of the time you have to order them or they have to be custom-fitted. I'd say there's a 50-50 chance you can find it. If not, you have to order it.''
Former Dodger Fernando Valenzuela, a left-handed golfer, believes it's easier to find clubs, but not necessarily every club you want.
``There's enough out there now,'' said Valenzuela. ``But there's some degrees of loft I can't find. I've tried to order 7-degree (clubs), but they don't have them for left-handers.''
Imagine trying to buy left-handed clubs for kids. Walter Kandor has plenty of shopping to do in order to find clubs for his 6-year-old son, Avery. And Avery, who attends Colfax Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood, doesn't need play clubs, either.
He's good. He's been using the same rescue club for years, but that's because he's found one he likes and good left-handed clubs are hard to replace.
Valenzuela recently played in a charity tournament with two other left-handed golfers in his fivesome, a rarity indeed. One of those was Bill Snow.
``Years ago, you would go to a local store and there'd be five sets of left-handed clubs and 42 sets of right-handed clubs,'' Snow said. ``Now you can pretty much find what you want.''
Joe Buttitta, the pro at Westlake Village Golf Course, is left-handed. Since he's in the golf industry, it's easier for him to get clubs. But he knows what it's like for left-handers to find what they're looking for.
``When we walk into a store, and I've dealt with this all my life, there's about a 9-to-1 ratio of right-handed clubs to left-handed clubs,'' Buttitta said. ``We have to take what they have. It's still a slight problem, but not as bad as it was when I started playing in the 1960s. Sometimes, you had to special order clubs. They're just not as plentiful.''
But Buttitta has found that being a left-handed teacher is quite beneficial to most of his right-handed clients.
``When I demonstrate, and I think all teachers should demonstrate, they look right at me and it's like looking in the mirror,'' Buttitta said. ``That's the biggest benefit. Left-handed students like it because left-handed teachers are so rare.''
Left-handed golfers bond over their uniqueness and problems with finding clubs or getting quality lessons. Web sites are dedicated to lefties, including one called www.nlag.com (National Association of Free-handed Golfers). They say they're the only people who stand on the right side of the ball, and the organization has an annual golf tournament for lefties.
Then there's the World Association of Left-handed Golfers (www.walg.org). The site claims its object is to promote golf throughout the world, especially with left-handed golfers.
From the rough: The Mark Korff annual golf tournament at Porter Valley Country Club raised nearly $15,000 Monday. The money, which goes to the Mark Korff Guardian Godfather Foundation, helps children afford golf clinics and other activities.
photo, 2 boxes
It might be easy for Phil Mickelson to find clubs, but for the average left-handed golfer, it poses a challenge.
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
(2) THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
- Associated Press
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Aug 9, 2006|
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