Q & A: Gripped by golf's sinister side

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Q. Only one golfer playing left-handed has won a major - Bob Charles at Lytham in 1963. Charles was otherwise essentially right-handed. How many naturally left-handed golfers, playing right-handed, have won majors? Does the dominant hand affect the mechanics of the golf swing?

A. Bob Charles was indeed a naturally right-handed golfer who played left-handed with great success. Golf is essentially a game of two hands, the top hand and the bottom hand. Most of us feel more comfortable with our dominant hand below the weaker hand, hence the majority of golfers are right-handed players. However, occasionally a player, be it a golfer or cricketer, will feel more comfortable with his dominant hand above the weaker hand, giving rise to instances of right-handed batsmen bowling naturally left-handed, or golfers such as Bob Charles. I am not sure whether the mechanics of the swing are affected by this, but one fact does appear to emerge, in that those golfers who play with their stronger hand above the weaker tend to be more accurate and less powerful than those who play conventionally.

One example of a golfer playing the opposite of his natural way is David Graham the Australian. Graham was an assistant professional, playing to a handicap of scratch of or possibly one, but who played left-handed. In his late teens, he was advised by his boss, the club professional, that there was no future in playing left-handed as all major golf courses are set up for right-handed players.

Graham changed to playing right-handed and went on to win the 1979 USPGA and in the 1981 US Open, he played the final 18 holes, hitting every fairway and every green in regulation, finishing with a two-under-par 69 to win comfortably.

If his grip is scrutinised, it can clearly be seen he has a very weak right-hand style and looks quite awkward at the address position.

Nevertheless, I would rank him among the 10 best players in the post-Hogan era. - Michael Ward, Stockport Q. During the recent second Test match between Pakistan and Australia, every player but the wicketkeeper Ian Healy bowled at least one over in Pakistan's second innings. Have more than 10 players bowled in a Test innings before?

A. The first occurred as early as 1884 (third Test, England v Australia, at The Oval). The Hon A Lyttelton, the wicketkeeper, took 4 for 19 with lobs. W G Grace kept wicket and apparently 'made a good leg-side catch to the first ball' (The Times). In 1980 (second Test, Pakistan v Australia, in Faisalabad), all the Australians bowled in Pakistan's only innings in a drawn match. They were nearly joined in January 1982 when in India's second innings at Madras, all the English players bar one bowled. Ironically the one who 'missed out' was a specialist bowler, Paul Allot, who was injured. - A Holdcroft, London, SE15 Q. Have there ever been any Members of Parliament in office at Westminster who have been active in professional sport?

A. There is the obvious example of Sebastian Coe, and a few years before him Christopher Chataway MP, who was both a member of the government and one of the athletes in Bannisters' four-minute mile. There is also the example of Sir Edward Heath, who won the Admiral's Cup for Britain in 1971 while actually Prime Minister. His biographer, John Campbell, comments: 'In fact, it was an unprecedented feat for a serving Prime Minister to have captained a big national team in an international sporting event, let alone won it.' - C R Walker, London SE13 Q. Which Football League or FA Premiership clubs have instituted changes in their first-choice kit and colours since their foundation?

A. Re Andrew Okey and D Moore's letters referring to the changes in Scunthorpe United colours: 'The Iron' played in claret and blue until winning promotion to the Second Division in 1957-58; the club then switched to all white, with blue and old gold facings. These were colours during the club's heyday in the early Sixties, followed by the adoption of an all-red kit in the later part of that decade, after being relegated to the Third Division.

D Moore is correct in asserting the reversion to claret and blue, United's traditional colours in the early Eighties, now superseded by the all-white kit with claret and blue facings of the present day. - R Kiddle, Manchester ANSWERS PLEASE Q. Last season Internazionale won the Uefa Cup as well as coming within two points of relegation. What is the closest a British club has been to relegation while winning one of the three European Cup competitions? Also has any team ever been relegated the season they appeared in the Champions'

Cup final? - L A Cole, Guildford Q. Is Mick Luckhurst the only British- born player to have played in the National Football League, or have there been any others? - Christopher Toms, Shrewsbury Q. Have the Falkland Islands hosted a first-class sport or international event? - Kevin Maguire, Batley Q. Atletico Madrid but Athletic Bilbao. Why? - A Brodkin, London N2 Q. I was once told by a science teacher that the nuclear physicist Niels Bohr had played in goal for Denmark. Is this true? - Brendan O'Brien, Dublin If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to: Q & A Sports Desk Independent on Sunday 40 City Road London EC88 2HR Fax: 071-956 1894

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