Forced to practice using only her left hand, Ryann O’Toole might have stumbled onto something ahead of LPGA season-enders

·2 min read

BELLEAIR, Florida – Ryann O’Toole simply wanted to get her two English Bulldogs into the house. When she reached down to pick up the ball Hank and Moose were playing with, one-year-old Moose accidentally clamped down on her right hand. Nine stitches later, O’Toole’s right thumb threatened to put a stop to her practice leading up to the last two events of the year.

“They’re sweethearts,” said O’Toole. “(Moose) is a puppy still. He felt terrible when he did it.”

O’Toole reached out to her instructor, Jorge Parada, and asked for a one-arm practice schedule. She spent the next week using only her left hand for speed work, chipping, bump-and-runs, flop shots, and putting. Her first round of golf with two hands took place last Wednesday.

O’Toole enjoyed the one-handed session so much she might add left-hand only days to her practice routine going forward. In fact, she’d recommend it to amateurs, too.

“It creates great timing,” she said. “It creates good synchronization with the body, and to be honest, it’s amazing how much the right side adds the power force to it, but your left arm is really the driver. It does a lot.”

O’Toole practiced three to four hours a day with her left hand and said she was able to feel things in her putting that she previously couldn’t. It helped with a swing change she’s been trying to implement, too.

“Lately I’ve been working on trying to get my upper body over to the right side on the backswing better without swaying,” said O’Toole. “When you’re swinging left-hand only, you can’t sway back in order to create contact.”

When she got bored and played one-handed from the forward tees at her home course in Arizona, she tried to play bogey golf, hitting it 130 yards off the tee and about 90 yards with each iron.

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O’Toole, 34, won for the first time on the LPGA earlier this season and is in the field for this week’s Pelican Women’s Championship as well as the CME Group Tour Championship, which features a $1.5 million first-place prize, the largest in golf.

“I wasn’t going to stop working,” said O’Toole. “I wasn’t going to take a step back.”