Lies about Lie Angle
This is my first post since moved to its new home at, so I thought I would get out on the edge again for all you new readers. You'll find that I go "out there" quite often, as I've been in the equipment business for nearly 30 years now and it just rankles me when you golfers only get a piece of the story, or a total batch of hooey from the press or equipment industry. So here goes.

I just finished reading another of the million or so tips written about the importance of lie angle and just had to sound off on this topic. Like all the others, this one said that you should make your lies more upright to fix a problem. Sheesh.

Now, I am a huge believer that every golfer should have clubs that fit, that are made to tight specifications and that are matched to each other from the driver to the wedges. But I’ll take the industry to task that we should always match the specs to the golfer – more often than not we need to match the golfer to the specs! When it comes to lie angle, 99% of the tips are targeted to the problems from clubs that have a lie that is too flat, thereby causing impact on the toe of the club and the toe digging into the turf.

Since the focus on custom-fitting began, we've seen a huge trend to fit clubs more upright in lie angle than the manufacturer standard specifications, but is this always the right solution? More often than not, when the golfer is digging the toe into the ground, a swing path alteration is the better solution than to adjust the clubs. That's because clubs' lie angles are derived from a study of the best players in the game, the tour professionals. These guys (and ladies) know how to strike a golf ball in the most efficient manner possible, and even the tallest players do not have their irons adjusted more than a degree or two upright, at the most!

So why do I see so many recreational golfers, of normal height, begin fitted 3 and even 4 degrees or more upright? Because they do not understand the simple physics of the proper path of the hands through the impact zone. Almost every recreational golfer comes through the impact zone with their hands too high . . . too far away from their body . . . so that the angle of approach to the ball is too steep. The toe digs in and a poor shot results.

Rather than adjust the clubs' lie angle several degrees upright, which will permanently trap the golfer into this incorrect path to the ball, wouldn’t it be smarter to use that club feedback to help you find the proper path to the ball, so you can hit better quality shots?

If you feel the toe digging in, relax your arms and let them come through the impact zone closer to the body, on a path that mirrors their natural hanging position at address. Focus on maintaining a distinct angle formed by the left arm (for RH players) and the shaft – the arm hangs almost vertically, and the shaft extends from the hands to the ball.

This weekend, watch the best players in the game at address – their arms are hanging naturally from their shoulders – and notice how they "cover" that same position as they come through impact. There is more power and accuracy with this path, and you can swing slower and get the same or better distance if you will let this happen.

OK, I feel better now. If you'd like me to write more about this, I'll certainly be happy to do that. I think it is the single biggest "secret" that separates better players from the other 99+ % of recreational golfers.

Sound off, oobgolfers!!!
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

[ comments ]
possingk says:
Great article, as a 6'4" golfer I have always had the shafts on my clubs extended, and often wondered about the lies on my clubs so it was good to read an opinion that isn't based on trying to sell me something. Great to have you here on OOBgolf, I always enjoyed reading your articles before now it is more of a one stop shop.
hhkan says:
I agree with the comments. Following this line of reasoning, the conclusion would be that most golfers should be fitted using static fitting and not dynamic fitting. Dynamic fitting should be used for golfers who already have good swings.
shathorn says:
I have to sound off... You are right on. The equipment manufacturers have engineers who make their living studying the optimal impact conditions. We need to work on our swings to be as close to that as possible, not adjust equipment to the extreme to compensate for a bad swing.
blue_crush says:
now while I agree with you on the fundamental swing theory. you have to allow for those who have a different swings but still make good ball flight/contact. therefore they may benefit from such club adjustments. it only works for them if they have a repeatable swing and lower hdcps for sure. not everyone can have a perfect swing plane and set-up, what about the like of a guys like Jim Furyk who don't fit the model swing.
SilkySmoothFlatStick says:
I don't know where to leave general comments and questions for you, so I'll do it on this post and hope for an answer.

Could you post a topic with insight to ported wedges to include benefits and sizing options for anyone interested in doing this?

blue_crush says:
ported wedges, as less weight to apply the old 9.8 mpers of gravity to along with Fnet = m*a -1/8 X 3/16 = A+b2=M/S2 so less mass = less force. or,
which means you will always be short of green..... IMHO
Mattro says:
THis just reaffirms my theory that if you maintain the proper angles that people would find they should probably have their clubs bent -1 instead of +1
wedgeguy says:
Sorry to be so late getting back in on this, guys. Please understand that I'm not denigrating the importance of fitting at all -- quite to the contrary, I'm a huge fan of the process . . . done right. But altering lie angles is not always the solution, and getting more than 2* in either direction is a dramatic alteration of the playing characteristics of any golf club, so it should be done very carefully.

I was making the point that toe or heel contact with the turf might be a swing clue, rather than a clubfit problem.

Oh, and on that subject of "porting" wedges, you got me blue_crush . . .wow! But we do know that removing weight by grinding or porting has next to no effect on moving the center of mass of the clubhead. And I'm a believer that mass in the wedge head is your friend, as you use these clubs so often at slow speeds, but still with the need to move rough or sand -- that takes mass.
JWHpurist says:
Interesting comments above. How about the people that learned this game over 50 years ago and were taught to be able to pick up any club at any time. Swing it a few times, set up at address and adjust to the tool in hand and make a proper swing and contact for the desired results. This is no different than playing a 9 hole par 3 course, such as the Wilson in Griffith Park (LA) with only a 7 iron and a putter and recording a resonable score. I did that in the middle 60's with 50's clubs and it was very enjoyable! What do you think of that? JWHpurist
randy warren says:
Dear Wedgeguy:
I have found that with my new one plane swing posture (ie more bent at the hips) my clubs no longer sole properly ( toe becomes elevated) Any comments??
wedgeguy says:
You've changed your posture and swing plane and your older clubs are too upright in the lie angle. I "preach" all the time that great players set their wedges 1-2 flatter than their irons to promote a great short game technique. You are getting there with your change. Go to a qualified clubfitter and have him alter your lie angles flatter and you're good to go.
scooters repair says:
I think you are being too simplistic regarding lie angle and swing path. A good teaching professional will assist the golfer in adjusting his swing to the proper path but also watch the resulting shots to assure that the equipment is not prohibiting him from obtaining the best results. If the swing path is "fixed" and the lie angle is too flat or upright, the golfer will simply make other swing adjustments (compensations)to accommodate his ill-fitted equipment. The problems you have described are not ones of the equipment manufacturers but of the club fitters. Unfortunately, the golfers are approaching them for the "fix" when they need to see the professional.
mpb1472 says:
I could not agree more. I recently have gotten lessons from a pro who is a clubfitter too and he recommends that I use something with a flatter lie angle. I was using a set of irons bent 2* upright. Everything goes left on good swings. I was making swing adjustments to compensate for that. I tried to self diagnose with thicker grips or opening the clubface with inconsistent results. He has shown me my swing path, which is very good but I am using the wrong equipment. We are in the process of making a new set, in which the end result will be flatter lie angles. Most importantly, I think getting a fitting by a golf professional and a certified clubfitter is much better than just a clubfitter.
mattl1233 says:
Isn't it if you stand closer to the ball the more upright your clubs should be. The farther out i put my hands, the more flat i need my clubs. When i was fitted, i needed them bent 4 degrees upright. I guess i am just confused by the article saying that the farther out your hand go the more upright it is.
jaksnap3 says:
I've always bought clubs off the rack...I just bought a used demo set .. very good manufacturer . What I saw in them is that they had a senior flex , forgiving , oversized , left hand , and I thought ok I've got a good set . It's been too cold to use them yet ... but the set I got has a flat lie ...flatter than what it's supposed to be for my build etc...I didn't know anything about lie angles .... So the manufacturer says this MAY cause me to push or slice the ball. Am I destined to have these bent or can I learn how to hit them like I have all the other clubs I've ever owned ?
jaksnap3 says:
Ok I need to ask a question .... I have a black dot on the hosel opposite the face of the Ping iron G 10 I bought ... Is that the color code for the lie angle. What is the orange color in the cavity on the otherside of the face ?
wedgeguy says:
jaksnap3, You should be able to find the answer to your question on the Ping website, I would imagine. I'm not sure exactly how they do their color coding from model to model.
Phil799 says:
About time sombody spoke some sense !!
beladrian says:
During the dynamic lie fitting, the recommendation is 2 degrees upright.
But my ball flight was a draw or a push left. I was told that i had a out-to-in swing path which I'm working with my pro to change.

Should I get standard lies and work on my swing or 2 degrees upright and work on my swing.

How will it impact my ball striking or my ball flight or both?

Any suggestions would be great!
wholeinone says:
This whole lie angle thing is a bunch of hooey. The variables are endless. If you gripped the club always exactly the same AND stood exactly the same distance from the ball everytime (accounting for different club length) then the lie angle of your clubs may need to be changed. Or so too if you are 7 or 4 feet tall. Step forward or back and the lie angle changes. Watch the pros feet on address this Sunday. They are "adjusting" their lie angle.
Jubes says:
I am a 5 handicap golfer and am 6'3" and iron play is a strength in my game. I work hard on my technique and often use video to assist me.
One thing I have come to learn is that it is extremely difficult to remove flaws from your swing. I have been aware for nearly 10 years now that the toe of my irons often dig FAR deeper than the heel and have made every attempt to change this - I've made some progress but I still play with irons 4 degrees up.

Your conclusion that the toe digging in should be a hint at a technique problem is rather obvious, however I think you need to be a little bit careful (effectively) encouraging people to play with ill-fitting clubs when it could take YEARS to correct the flaw.

My suggestion would be, get fitted each year and have the lie adjusted, perhaps have them one degree flatter than required to encourage you to improve. Any more that that and you are consigning yourself to many months or even years of poor play and frustration!
Whit5751 says:
I have been playing Ping green dot for 20 years. I took lessons about 6 months ago and my swing is now flatter and more around my body rather than up and down. I am able to release the club now which I never felt I could do before.
My instructor said the green dot Pings could result in too much draw and I might want to consider bending them flatter. Sure enough I have been fighting a 10 to 15 yard draw now that drives me nuts. I too was aiming more right, adjusting my grip, etc. to try and get less draw.
I borrowed my friends Taylormade Burner irons on 8 to 10 shots 2 days ago while playing. They are standard lie which is 2 or 3 degrees flatter. The results were dramatic. I hit some of the purist shots I have EVER hit, and got 10 to 20 yards more distance because of no draw or maybe 3 yards of draw and possibly the newer technology. I sat there stunned shot after shot watching the ball in the air with perfect direction and trajectory. Needless to say I am in the process of getting new irons.
sigmapete1 says:
Most average golfers are coming over the top on their swing, coming in too steep. Fitters then record this on a lie board and give them upright lies (I would even venture that the club companies make their standard lies too upright). This prevents then from ever recognizing the error without a good instructor, which most golfers never get.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I think this is purposeful. After all, if a lot of players leaned to strike the ball well, then they wouldn't need the latest and greatest clubs to "get 17 more yards." Club companies are just out there to make money and are doing NO favors for your average golfer.
oldschoolrocker says:
I have experienced this "trend" in custom club fitting. Both times I purchased new clubs and been "fitted" the results came back the same. 2 degrees upright. Well, whatever they were basing that on did not translate from the board to the range, or fairway. Ended up getting rid of both sets after fighting a hook, in vain for a few months with each.
Next, I took things in my own hands and had two older sets of irons bent 2 degrees flat. WOW.....the magic formula was found. I could then go after the ball without fear of holding back the release.
So, now gaming an older set of blades, purchased for a song and dance second hand, bent 2 degrees flat, and striking the ball better than the HIGH DOLLAR game improvers from company X, sold by store Y.
Now, that said, I can play standard lie, if I setup to the ball with an adjustment.
Govner says:
Govner says:
I need your opinions and help. I purchased a brand new set of Taylormade R11 Irons, graphite. I love the irons and have a descent golf swing and an 8 handicap (trending lower). In that pursuit, I have educated myself on the technical aspects of swing planes, fittings, etc. I have been dynamically measured and have a 4-degree upright setup/swing. A pro analyzed my swing and it's not as has been suggested here (hands high) or anything like that. My problem is, the club fitters now tell me that Taylormade R11 Irons cannot be "bent" to 4-degrees upright. So, I'm stuck with a brand new (now slightly used) set of irons that I love (except for ill-filling that is). Does ANYONE have experience with this? Before, I had forged clubs and they could be adjusted with no problem. I'm told (after the fact and quite as a surprise) that I am pretty much screwed and need to change brands. Ideas? Thanks all.
fontaine32 says:
I have a 49 degree lie angle in my driver, and lie angles are set progressively from there.. 5 iron is 55 degrees in lie.. NEVER hit the ball better.. This article is spot on.. Screw the industry standards, it's your standard that makes the difference.. I don't see the left side of the course anymore.. Upright lie angles force you to come in steep to the ball with the hands too high.. Ball can go anywhere.. All the great ballstrikers of the past had their lies souled flat on the ground, and returned it there. Impossible with the too long and too upright lies in today's clubs..
uidsteve says:
The original article is the best advice you will find for striking the ball consistently. Seriously go to the practice ground and hit a few shots with the heel grounded and the toe slightly in the air! What! Yes I know but try it! Having the toe in the air will naturally allow your arms to hang down and more into the pro position. Maintain your left wrist angle on the back swing and 'smooth' it through. I like the rhythm mantra; swing - wait - through. (Swing up to the top - wait momentarily then swing back through to the target)
GregNorman says:
Hello. Not sure this article is correct and following comments neither. I understand and agree on the fact that better players or players who try to improve their game with a better, more connected and body swing will benefit from a flatter lie. If you look at Ben Hogan swing, you'll notice that he has a one plane, one piece swing, quite flat too. It is famous that he had to fight a draw during his career and change few part of his set up to compensate, especially grip and hand action in the downswing. Now, if you look at recent swings, you'll find some very similar, and others completely to the opposite, with high hands, vertical plane, etc... Even the hand position at Impact are different between professional players. To come to the point, I believe that there is a misconception in this article. Better players, 5-10 handicaps or even better, will tend to come back under the plane, from the inside. This will have 2 possible issues : block pushes or swiped pull hooks. In the best days, you'll produce draws.
GregNorman says:
And, a flatter lie will help your game. This is not a manufacture misconception, but a physics misconception. If you want to deliver the club in the angle, with the most of power, you need to be on plane with as little centrifugal force, so, your club doesn't tend to flip back to the left. That's why, in these days, you see McIlroy changing his swing, which is naturally flat. He tries to initiate backswing a bit more vertically with his hands in front of him, so, his club will keep on plane in the downswing. Too upright, to flat lie angle should be solved at address with the static posture and then be adjust by maximum 1 degree up or down, dynamically, because, golf isn't our job and we are not trying to have the perfect swing 8:00 per day. However, solving bad dynamic by changing the club is bad, from a manufacturer perspective as well as fitter perspective. Rules of physics will always take over players' strength.
GregNorman says:
Sand sorry for my poor English, long time I haven't practiced :)
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
Click here to for Terry's blogroll.
    Golf Talk
Most Popular: