Effective Lie, Short Game Mechanics, & Leadership Styles

Look it up! Go ahead. I dare you. You won’t find the definition of effective lie anywhere on the internet. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true. Apparently, you have to be enrolled in Golf Club Assembly and Repair at the Golf Academy of America.

Loft and lie is added using
Loft and lie is adjusted using an angle machine like this one by Mitchell Golf.

Effective lie is the adding or subtracting of the actual length of a golf club to/from the actual lie compared to the standard specification. To change the lie of an iron either upright or flat by one degree requires bending the hosel of the club just 1/8 of an inch.

There are three types of stainless steel irons: 304, 431, and 17-4. And then there are forged clubs, which are by far the easiest to bend. If your clubs are 17-4, like Ping irons, they need a little heat to help soften them up first, which is why you have to take your clubs directly to Ping or send them in. Thank you Ping!

Adjusting a club upright or flat can also affect the club’s swing weight. For every three degrees up or down, the swing weight is adjusted by one point or one swing weight.

The reason for needing to adjust your clubs is simple: clubs “off the rack” are designed for someone who’s 5’8″ or 5’9,” and we’re all a little different. When the lie is properly adjusted, the ball will strike the center of the clubface. If the club is too flat, the ball will hit off the toe and will push to the right (for the right-handed golfer). If the club is too upright, the ball will hit off the heel and will pull to the left.

You want to make sure that your clubs are properly adjusted because the proper lie gives you the most directional control, and golf is hard enough as it is!

Advanced Elements of the Short Game
The topic of short game mechanics came up today in Advanced Elements of the Short Game. There are three different areas to consider: ball flight, the position of the clubface at impact, and the movement of the body.

Chris Kirk's clutch putt for par on the 18th hole Sunday at Colonial earned him his 5th PGA Tour title.
Chris Kirk’s clutch putt for par on the 18th hole Sunday at Colonial earned him his 4th Tour title and the ugliest jacket in sports.

PGA Professional Jay Friedman will tell you that the reaction of the ball as it moves toward the target provides a ton of feedback about the motion that produced the flight. The movement of the ball is created by the position of the clubface at impact, and the position of the club at impact is influenced by the movement of the body.

When we’re analyzing ball flight, we’re looking for a few things. It’s important to identify the flight relative to the starting line, the flight relative to the finishing point in relation to the target, and trajectory. When it comes to ball flight, swing path is always secondary to the position of the clubface. Clubface angle determines 83% of the initial direction in the full swing and 87% of the initial direction in putting. Clubface angle also determines the rotation of the ball on its axis (whether it hooks or slices; remember, there’s no such thing as sidespin).

The path of the club should be on a line from inside the target line, to down the target line, to inside the target line. Here’s something I didn’t consider when it comes to the short game – swing plane! But it makes sense. The better the club starts out on the correct arc around the player’s body, the less compensating motions need to be employed to produce correct impact position. Fewer compensations means greater consistency.

There are also two spine angles at set up. The primary spine angle is the forward tilt of the player at the hips (toward the ball). Setting the angle properly allows the shoulders to turn the club on an acceptable plane on the backswing and the forward swing. If it’s too upright, the shoulders will rotate on a plane that’s too flat.

The secondary spine angle is the tilt of the player’s spine away from the target. On shorter shots, typically the secondary spine angle is flat or neutral. Balance throughout the entire swing gives the player the best chance to produce proper club mechanics.

The short game requires less of a weight shift than the full swing, and because extra power is not required in the short game the focus of the player can be more on balance.

The grip of the club should match the face. Ball position (based on the sternum) is typically centered between the feet but varies based on the lie and the shot required. You will want to use your full swing grip for pitches, bunker shots, and distance wedge shots. The grip used for chip shots is personal preference, and most players prefer to use a different grip when putting. The lower body should be quiet, and you want a flat leading wrist at impact. The Golf Academy uses the phrase “quiet hands” to describe what the hands should be doing on short game shots. Backswing and forward swing lengths should match, and tempo should be similar. Sounds complex, I know. But who are we kidding? Golf is a complex game.

If you take care of your internal customers, they will take care of your external customers.
If you take care of your internal customers (your staff), they will take care of your external customers (the public).

Understanding Golf Operations
In Understanding Golf Operations, we talked about what it means to “take care of your customers.” There are internal customers (staffing) and external customers (the paying public). If you don’t take care of your internal customers, they will invariably run off your external, paying customers. You have to take care of your team. You want your team to be above average because the experience will rub off on your external customers, and they will want to come back and play!

We also discussed the four leadership styles among club managers:

* Directing = provides specific direction about what to do and how to do it. He or she closely tracks each individual’s performance and gives frequent feedback on how well he performs each step necessary to complete the task. This is the hammer, the micromanager. You don’t want to be this guy.

* Coaching = explains why something needs to be done, solicits suggestions, praises progress, and continues to direct task accomplishment. Here, the leader is more focused on the end result than the process required to get there.

* Supporting = the leader and the individual make decisions together. The role of the leader is to facilitate, listen, draw-out, encourage, and support.

* Delegating = empowers the individual to act independently and provides the appropriate resources to accomplish the goal or task. This goes hand-in-hand with supporting. You have to train your staff to be able to run things confidently and comfortably while you’re gone.

Think about it. What type of leader would you be?

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