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SportsGolf

Port Washington golfer Leo Ioanna goes left, then gets it right

Leo Ioanna holds the ball he used to

Leo Ioanna holds the ball he used to make an ace on the eighth hole of Eisenhower in 2019. Credit: Leo Ioanna

Leo Ioanna has always been a natural righthander. Writes righthanded, eats righthanded, bowls righthanded.

"My left hand is useless," Ioanna said. "I can’t even use it for personal stuff."

The 78-year-old from Port Washington has been a lifelong recreational athlete playing volleyball, baseball and softball into his 70s.

But as a batter he swung naturally lefthanded, so when he took up golf just a little over four years ago, he naturally played lefthanded.

On July 25 of 2019, on the 120-yard eighth hole of the Eisenhower Blue Course, Ioanna made a hole-in-one with a 9-iron. On Aug. 6 this year, Ioanna made another hole-in-one on the 140-yard fifth hole of Eisenhower White with a 8-iron.

Two aces in almost a year’s time is quite the achievement when most players spend a lifetime hoping, wishing, dreaming for one without ever finding the bottom of the jar.

But Ioanna’s aces are extraordinary: He made the first one lefthanded and the second one righthanded.

Ioanna was having trouble with carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand last year. The left hand is the swing release hand for lefthanded players. "I couldn’t squeeze the club," Ioanna said.

It so happened he attended a dinner for senior players late last year, and bought some raffle tickets. He ended up winning chipping clubs, righthanded ones.

"I asked a guy can I get lefthanded and he said no, only the righthanded," Ioanna said. "I said that gives me a good reason to switch hands. I borrowed clubs from my son [Anthony] and I started playing righthanded. I practiced enough that I got back to the level where I was lefthanded."

And to think he took up the game in earnest when he was in his seventies.

"Years ago, I would maybe go out for a round with my boys and play at the Harbor Links Golf Course, but that was rare," Ioanna said. "Some of the other sports became a little too much exertion. I stopped playing volleyball about four years ago."

Then he took up golf, and the hand of fate stepped in, both the left and right.

ACES

Tim Eng, Southward Ho CC No. 4, 115 yards, gap wedge

Anne Sprotte, Lido GC No. 5, 111 yards, 7-iron

Steve Vasilkos (Garden City) New York CC No. 12, 143 yards, 9-iron

Paul Warshawsky, Robert Moses No. 9, 65 yards, 56-degree wedge

New York Sports