The Importance of Lie Angle
One of the most important . . . and misunderstood and/or overlooked aspects of your golf clubs is the lie angle. That is the angle of the clubhead and shaft that is built into each club, and it has a huge impact on the quality of contact you will make with the ball, and on the flight path the ball will take as a result. Getting the right lie angle prescription is one of the major points of dynamic clubfitting. And the only way it can be done correctly is to do it dynamically . . . hitting actual golf shots with your clubs.
Yes, there are some online and other methods for “fitting” that ask for your height and wrist-to-floor measurement, but that is based on a projected “typical” posture and set-up at address, and the assumption that all golfers swing the same way. Neither are reliable at all.
The only thing that matters in lie angle fitting is how YOU set up and swing YOUR clubs. The goal is simple – to make sure that the sole of your clubs interact with the turf properly, where the score-lines and sole of the club are parallel to the ground through impact. If the lie angle of your clubs is too upright for you, the heel of the club will dig deeper through impact and cause ball flight to go left and lower. If the lie angle it too flat, the toe will dig through impact and cause the opposite. But here’s where it becomes tricky, in my opinion.
The trend to dynamic fitting over the past few years has shown (or caused?) a movement to longer and more upright golf clubs. That’s because the typical recreational golfer makes a swing that delivers an excessively downward path of the clubhead to the ball; he or she engages their upper body too much, their stronger right shoulder and arm too much (right handed players) and they hit “at” the ball, rather than swing through the impact zone. Dynamic fitting then shows that you “need” clubs that are longer and more upright, when what you really need is to learn a more proper move from the top of the swing through the impact zone.
Now I understand that golfers today are bigger, taller and stronger than the typical golfer of 2-3 decades back. Few pro golfers then were over 6 feet tall, and now almost all of them are. So, it stands to reason that clubs have to get longer and more upright, right? Well, they have, but the typical 6’2” golf professional is playing clubs at a much flatter lie than most of his recreational counterparts of the same size. On the PGA Tour, length and lie angles are typically shorter and flatter than what we see coming out of the fitting carts for recreational golfers.
A trip to a good fitter . . . . or two or three for second opinions . . . is a great investment in your game. But you can also “do it yourself” a bit if you’d like. Simply take your 6-iron and PW out to the range with a small piece of thin plywood or plastic – about 10” wide by 18” long or so. Put a strip of masking tape on the bottom of each club and hit a few balls off the hard surface. Then look at the bottom to see where the club’s sole was making impact. If you haven’t been custom-fitted, you’ll probably see it toward the toe. This is certainly not a substitute for a good thorough fitting, but you’ll probably learn something about golf clubs and your swing.
The next step is to put new tape on the sole and make swings while TRYING to move that contact toward the middle of the sole or even toward the heel. Just think how you have to move back and through so that the sole engages the board differently. And watch what happens to your ball flight as you do that.
I promise you it will be a fun and enlightening experiment.
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This year i had my lie angle adjusted a little flatter. I feel like my solid contact feels more solid than it did in previous years. It wasn't that far off to begin with but i don't notice any random draws anymore. I would recommend getting it checked.
I agree. Three years ago I bought my MP-60s, and they came with 1 free lie adjustment. I was consistently a little heely - being shortish (5'6"), maybe. But we decided to wait and come back if necessary to do the adjustment after I played with the clubs a while. I came back after 6 mos, and I was dead center.
In contrast, a taller relative (6'2") got completely fitted (heads, shafts, grips, lies, weights, etc.), in hopes of finally getting his game together. He can't hit the ball well at all now, and plays worse than ever. Now, I think the fitter was a knock-off pusher, and yet you can't rule out a bit of psychology. All in all I'm a big believer in your last statement: work your swing to fit the standard club. But many of us still wonder, "how do I know which fitter to trust?" I still get much conflicting information from them. I come in educated from this column, and they laugh. What's a good litmus test to scout out a fitter?
you hit a few balls off of a lie board with tape on the sole of the club. it's either right or wrong. this is one time you don't have to trust that someone is trying to upsell you or have you purchase something you don't need. It's also pretty cheap around $30 for the set.
Anyone know a place in London / Surrey where I can turn up with my bag of clubs and they will sort them as above???
Notice all the people responding to this article thus far are single digit handicappers. In my personal opinion, lie angle isn't that important until you have a consistent golf swing. If your swing isn't consistent, the lie angle of your clubs may fit you, but you're swinging improperly. Therefore messing with it is just encouraging the faulty swing.
@DaRupp13 I think that is why taking just 2 clubs, PW and 6 iron will give a golfer some idea as to Lie Angle. Those 2 clubs, based on few swings should at least give you some idea whether your lie angle is flat or upright or just about right. If both PW and 6 irons shows bias towards flat lie, then you can make slight adjustments. It will help you hit the ball straigter than before.
Of course if PW is flat, 6i is upright, then maybe you have to work on your swing.
@blundermuz, at many golf courses, the pro is able to do a dynamic lie fitting and adjust the lie of your irons for you. Call around the clubs in your area and if they don't do it, ask them if they know who does.
I am a whole-hearted believer. I have had my irons adjusted for years and it makes a real difference. My problem is getting the lie I need. Most manufacturers will only go 2* flat. Being short with a flat swing I need 3* flat and possibly 4* on longer irons. It's too bad I can't have my hybrid bent also.
If the "off the rack" stuff is being made to fit the average weekend rec player, I'm not sure I understand the issue. The rec guy isn't going to put in the time and effort to fix the flaws in his swing, so the clubs need to be made to fit him. Sounds to me like, if I'm reading this correctly, the companies are doing something right for once. They are building to clubs to fit the rec player. The better players will get properly fitted, and everything is groovy. Am I missing something?
I think it's similar to buying a suit or getting a tux, alot of us can pick one up off the rack and it "fits", but if you took it to a tailor you'd be surprised at the changes he would make. I think it applies to clubs too. I can pick up any club and adjust my swing to it, but wouldn't it be better to adjust the club to my swing? I just went thru a Titleist fitting a couple of weeks back and the Titleist fitter (who is also a PGA teaching pro) noticed that with my present clubs ( which are +1/2" and 2* up) and one of his with the same specs, that while my posture was good there was a rounding of my back at my shoulder blades up thru my neck. When he gave me a club that was 1" longer that this posture went away and my spine was straight while not affecting performance. For the last several years I have had problem with a degenerative disc that starts right between my shoulder blades and radiates up thru my neck and shoulders. I think my golf posture certainly hasn't helped this problem.
Good article! I have my clubs fitted last year and, sure enough, the sole of my clubs where impacting the board toward the toe. The clubmaker adjusted the clubs *1 upright. Impact is a lot more consistent.
Tim Horan says:
@blundermuz - there are a couple of places that I know (see message in your inbox)and as an afterthought try Urbangolf up in London
DaRupp 13 makes a great point. What modification should a golfer make at what point in their development? Given the fact that we all develop at our own individual pace and in our own way, what should a general path be. I taught golf for a while, yet am not big on too many lesson too early - fun and etiquette I feel should go first.
1. Go have a blast, but treat the course and the other players with respect. But given the fact that most players start with loaner/ hand-me-down clubs/ equip, when is the right time to stress equip/ swing/ strategical training? I think people know the ideal way, but we are not robots.
So let's take a case study: I played with guy last week last week who was ready to get his game together, and was joining a league for the summer. He was in his 30's married, a good job, not a ton of disposable income. His group of 6 friends weren't good players Over the course of 18 holes it was apparent that he had no consistency at all - your average golfer. I think he got one par on the day, maybe two good drives, sunk a 4-footer as the longest putt, and lost about 4 balls.
So he's not going to go out and get a lie adjustment tomorrow, right? And what role is the equipment even playing at this stage?
He seemed to have a mish-mash of maximum game improvement clubs, and was spraying the ball in all directions. His swing was disjointed, and his set up inconsistent. I didn't spent a lot of time watching him, but he asked what I thought about his game and his joining the league. He wanted to get better, but I was lost for words. He was disappointed towards the end of the round.
Tim Horan says:
@onedollarwed - Surely an initial swing assessment, physique observation and a potential swing speed assessment in order to get clubs somewhere near would be an advantage.
I went back to golf after 20 years and had a poor fitting, bought badly fitted clubs ill-suited to my physique, swing speed and ability at that time and played for six years ingraining bad posture and swing plane. My handicap held at 14 for those years. I went for a fitting with Wishon Golf and they refused to sell a set of clubs until the swing issues and posture were sorted and only tweaked my existing set. In the six months that followed my handicap fell to 9. All that cost me was $45.
Have fun yes, but get it right from the get go or that fun may not last long.
I just got the MP59's and must admit, the divot left in the ground looks fantastic compared to my previous linx black cats - almost 20yrs old irons (I was well due for an upgrade in irons :-) A bit like the masking tape, looking at the shape of the divot before replacing the turf, tells you a lot about your swing. I think Terry mentioned this fact about a year or so ago in a previous article. Great advice then, and still relevant now...
Last Friday I took my irons in to get them checked and adjusted to my swing. I gathered the manufacture's information regarding the lofts, grabbed all 13 of my irons & wedges, and headed off to the club fitter. I liked his approach to fitting, because he had me hit each club to see how they contacted the black mat glued to the floor. He charted them, and adjusted the loft to the specs I brought in, and the lie to what was needed for my swing. The numbers were all over the place for loft and lie before fitting. After fitting; 2 degrees upright and the lofts are right on spec.
Over the weekend I was hitting my old R7's that were fitted to me many years ago and I was amazed how well I was hitting the shot over the weekend rounds. Hitting where I was aiming within a couple yards left or right and short or long, but it was where I was aiming. What a concept. The clubs I dropped off where not producing shots like that. Usually everything was left of the target and I was always making sure to aim straight at it. Didn't want to make adjustments in the swing to compensate the left-ward shots, so I was frustrated most of the time because I know I am straight hitter, with maybe a little draw sometimes. Tonight I get to hit my freshly adjusted clubs and cannot wait!!
So I am a firm believer in lie angles being set to your swing.
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