Although left-handed golfers don’t fare any differently than their right-handed counterparts, they’ve had a few historic disadvantages. Tom Coyne, a 1956 graduate, has played left-handed since he was 9 years old, but he often had to hit the ball with a backward putter. “There weren’t many left-handed clubs,” says Coyne, who owned only three others—a 3-wood, a 7-iron and a 4-iron—until golf equipment manufacturers began producing suitable southpaw clubs in the early 1960s.
A member of the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers, Coyne plays in 10 to 15 amateur and national tournaments a year now that he’s retired from the Eli Lilly Co. Although he’s amassed trophies, golf bags, luggage, watches and other prizes, the Osprey, Fla., resident insists he plays only because he enjoys the competition.
“At my age, what doesn’t matter is if you win or lose,” he says. “Every tournament I’ve gone into, it’s nice to meet people you haven’t met before.”
Modest thoughts for a man who recently qualified to play in two world tournaments taking place in Dublin, Ireland, in June where he’s representing the United States along with 11 other golfers in the James Cup. The match-play tournament includes competitors from nine different countries. A few days later Coyne’s playing in the 16th World Left- Handed Golf Championship. Although he’s looking forward to playing golf abroad, he’s more excited to vacation with his wife, Nancy, and two of his five children. “I never go expecting to win,” Coyne says. “I’m just going. It will be enjoyable.”