Club fitting variable No. 2 is lie angle. If length (club fitting variable No. 1) influences distance, then lie angle primarily influences direction. If the lie angle is too upright, the ball flight will typically be a high pull (for right-handed players). If the lie angle is too flat, the shot will tend to be a low push. Although the two are very closely related and both are very important, length is No. 1 and lie is No. 2 for a reason.
Lie angle is defined as the angle between the shaft of the club and the clubface with the sole touching the ground at the center of the clubhead’s face. Today, there is no standard length, loft, or lie angle, and all three vary by manufacturer. Lie angles typically vary in increments between .5 and one degree.
When determining lie angle, a dynamic fit is best. This is accomplished through the use of a lie board and face tape to read where the sole of the club makes contact with the ground. A lie angle that is too flat will result in a mark at the toe, while a lie angle that’s too upright will produce a mark more towards the heel of the club.
Just be aware that outdoor lie angle readings will be approximately one-degree more upright because the lie board is slightly above your feet. A longer, more flexible shaft will affect lie angle more than a shorter, stiffer shaft because of the downward bending of the shaft at impact. Club fitter Ralph Maltby explains the importance of length in this video:
Here are some numbers to keep in mind concerning lie angle:
* Every three degrees upright = -1 point in swing weight
* Every three degrees flat = +1 point in swing weight
* +/- 1/2″ in length = +/- 1 degree in lie angle
* 1/8″ = 1 degree
* When you lengthen a club, it is effectively more upright
* When you shorten a club, it is effectively more flat
* Every degree that the lie angle is off equals approximately four yards offline in either direction
* More-lofted clubs will fly farther offline than less-lofted clubs
Effective lie = length + lie. It is the dynamic measurement of the lie angle of the club at impact. For example, if the actual lie of a club is one-degree upright and you add an inch to the length of the club (1/2″ = 1 degree upright; 1″ = 2 degrees upright), the effective lie will be three-degrees upright. If the actual lie of a club is six-degrees upright and you take two inches from the length of the club (2 inches = 4 degrees flat), the effective lie is just two-degrees upright.
There are many swing compensations for lie angle. Aim is one, and grip is the other. Flat lie angles (resulting in a low push) will cause the player to use a strong grip while upright lie angles (resulting in high pull) will cause a player to use a weaker grip.
Question & Answer
1. When the toe of an iron is too upright at impact, the heel will dig into the ground and close the clubface causing the ball to be pulled left. True/False
2. Lie angle is important on all clubs, but it is especially important on the driver. True/False
3. Which of the following is correct when fitting lie angle?
a. It is alright to make the lie angle more upright than normal to fight a slice
b. It is alright to make the lie angle flatter than normal to fight a hook
c. A dynamic fitting using a lie fitting board to hit off of is the best way to fit lie angle
d. All of the above
4. The standard lie angles on irons today will fit 80% of all golfers. True/False
5. On a set of irons, when fitting lie angle dynamically on the lie fitting board, its is always better to test irons with multiple lofts to get more accurate results. True/False
6. When fitting for irons, it is acceptable to use which of the following to fit properly for lie?
a. A credit card under the toe of the club
b. Lie tape and face tape
c. A lie board
d. Both b and c
7. The variance between lies for a standard set of irons is what?
a. 1-2 degrees
b. 3-4 degrees
c. .5 to 1 degree
8. The compensation for a lie that is too flat causing a push is which of the following?
a. A strong grip
b. Aiming to the left (for a right-handed golfer)
c. Trying to swing easier
d. Both a and b
9. The fraction for bending one degree upright or one degree flat is what?
10. The influence for an iron that is too upright causes a ball flight to do which of the following?
c. Go straight at the target
On a disappointing note, I failed to qualify for the Golf Academy Club Golf Team again this semester. I shot a 78 in rainy and windy conditions at Moon Valley Country Club on Monday. Four players shot the exact same score, and I lost in a scorecard playoff. Eight guys will be playing in the two-day National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA) event at Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear beginning this Saturday. Oh well. I’m not playing that well right now, and I’m planning on re-tooling my golf swing with the help of Golf Academy PGA Professional Ed Ekis. It was a great experience qualifying for the team 1st Semester, and while I was hoping to qualify again this semester, I certainly wish those guys the best of luck!