It’s been more than 25 years since a left-handed golfer was crowned Australian amateur champion. But all that could be about to change, with a star quartet taking the course this week.
Australian boys’ champion Elvis Smylie, Tyler Duncan, Lawry Flynn and Joel Stahlhut will all be strong contenders when amateur golf’s peak title gets underway at Royal Queensland and Brisbane Golf Club from Tuesday.
Australia’s cricket side fielded five left-handed batsmen in the most recent Test at the SCG yet the numbers of lefties who rise through the ranks in golf are still strangely limited by comparison.
This quartet of Queensland lefties have all appeared on the radar together which will warm the heart of two-time Australian Open champion Greg Chalmers, the last left-hander to win the amateur title 27 years ago at Royal Hobart.
Smylie, Duncan and Goondiwindi product Stahlhut are still in their teens while Flynn, 21, has made big improvements over the past 12 months with a Malaysian Amateur title and more maturity to his tournament play.
Redcliffe Golf Club product Duncan said last September’s dream visit to Florida for a week of live-in guidance, under the scholarship program of newly-crowned Sony Open champion Cameron Smith, was a positive eye-opener.
Smylie thrived on the same trip before his fine 70-67 start en route to 33rd at the recent Australian Open.
“Cam is very specific with what he wants to get done in practice and doesn’t leave until he’s done it,” Duncan said.
“To see his regime up close was a real insight to being successful and my pitching and putting has definitely improved because of it.
“It’s pretty cool to have so many left-handers around the Queensland Academy of Sport and we do feed off each other.
“Lefties have a different perspective on course … a dog leg to the right on a par four is a fade for a right-hander but we all see slinging a big draw around the corner as the shot.”
Flynn, who will have home course advantage at Brisbane Golf Club for Tuesday’s opening round, has grooved different shots with lower ball flight over the past 12 months which will better handle the river breezes at RQ when needed.
Tony Meyer, Queensland’s high-performance manager, has his own theory on why a wave of good lefties have arrived at the same time.
“I’m a left-hander but with three right-handed brothers the clubs I had to play with, as a kid, were right-handed,” Meyer said.
“I think the biggest thing has been the far greater access to left-handed equipment over the past eight-to-10 years plus golfers seeing Mike Weir become the first left-hander to win the Masters and Phil Mickelson winning all his majors.”