This month we’re going to discuss the lie angles on clubs. Not just how a correct lie angle affects the direction of a golf shot, but as important, what looking at and monitoring lie angles of clubs can tell you about your swing.

Definition: The “lie angle” is defined as the angle made between the shaft and clubhead. The key is to have a club with a proper lie angle that ensures the sole of the club is parallel with the ground at impact, thus eliminating lie angle induced errant shots. Improper lie angles will cause directional control problems.

Direction of a golf shot is determined by the following:

  1. Path of swing (determines up to 30% of direction)
  2. Face Angle (determines up to 70% of direction)
  3. Centeredness of hit on club face (determines up to 10% of direction)

Meaning, the face angle has twice as much effect on direction as path of swing and close to 6X as much as where you hit on the face of the club. Face Angle at impact is GREATLY affected by the lie angle.

First some lie angle facts:

  1. A 9 iron that is off 4* in lie angle (either too flat or upright) will cause a pull or push of 22 feet right or left of target.
  2. A 5 iron that is off 4* in lie angle (either too flat or upright) will cause a pull or push of 40 feet right or left of target.
  3. Most fairway woods in essence do not have a lie angle needing adjusting as the sole is rounded and does not dig heel or toe.
  4. Drivers do not have an effective lie angle as are not made to hit off ground.
  5. The single axis swing DOES NOT need more upright lie angles in clubs.
  6. For every 1/2 inch you add to a club, the lie angle is effected by 1/2*.
  7. The longer the club the FLATTER the lie angle is needed. For example, if you add 1 inch, club needs to be 1* flatter.
  8. There is no 1 standard for lie angles. Every company has a different standard. Maltbie’s Standard (used by PGA) is 60.5* for a 5 iron.
  9. The best way to determine an individual’s needed lie angle is through dynamic fittings (off lie board) – but – with the single axis – single plane swing – static fitting (using height vs. wrist to floor measurement, etc.) is very effective and very accurate.

There are two ways to fit lie angles. One is to fit the lie angle of the club to your current swing, the other is to fit the lie angle of the club to a swing you are trying to model (hopefully the Moe Norman single axis swing). We prefer to fit the lie angle to your single axis swing as, with you see above, you will make compensations away from a good swing if the lie angle doesn’t fit. For example, if you need a 61* lie angle in a 5 iron for your single axis swing, and you currently have a 64* lie angle, when you swing gets better (toward the needed 61* club) you will be pulling the shots significantly because the club’s heel will¬†be digging into the ground rather than the middle of the club…. you will have difficulty making changes…

So, as many as me – it’s comes down to the chicken and egg theory. If you were going to play in a tournament tomorrow – I would definitely get a lie angle that fits today’s swing. If you are trying to make swing changes to get a good single axis swing – I would get clubs that fit that swing you are working towards. Hopefully, those lie angles aren’t too far apart and your clubs can be bent to adjust accordingly.

Pic 1: Introduction Lie Angles Don’t Lie Introduction and the GGA recommends fitting equipment in conjunction with swing mastery.

Pic 2 The Goal of checking your lie angle is to make sure the club is hitting correctly on the ground at impact. Hitting correctly is when the scoring lines are level with the ground.

Pic 3 If the club his hitting toward the toe first (left) at impact, the club is too flat, if the club is hitting toward the heel first (right), the club is too upright.

Pic 4 There are a number of ways to check the lie angles of your irons to make sure they fit correctly. The first way is with a lie board and lie tape. (If you don’t have a lie board and lie tape, masking tape on the bottom of your club hitting off a thin board (or hard plastic) will work. Most all pro shops will be happy to let you use one of their lie boards and lie tape if you ask.)

Pic 5 By placing a strip of lie tape on the bottom of the club, you will be able to get an idea of where the club is striking the ground…..

Pic 6 …when you actually hit the ball off of the lie board. This is a dynamic fitting process. As a suggestion, all clubs should be checked with a lie board occasionally throughout the year.

Pic 7 After hitting the ball off of the lie board with the lie tape, the tape will show a mark indicating where the club contacted the board. If the club shows a toe mark (as in the picture)………..

Pic 8 This indicates that club is too flat. A club that is too flat could send shots to the right of target (left for left handed golfers) as the face will open at impact.

Pic 9 If the lie tape indicates a heel mark, this indicates that the club is too upright.

Pic 10 A club that is too upright will hit the ball to the left of target as the face will close at impact.

Pic 11 In this picture, you can see that the club has been struck squarely on the tape where the mark indicated by the strike is evenly across the bottom of the club.

Pic 12 A club that is struck squarely will maintain it’s squareness through impact where the ball will go straight with a more pure flight and spin.

Pic 13 One note of caution: sometimes the tape indicates an even hit but the mark is toward the back of the club. This marking shows that you have released the club early at impact.

Pic 14 Another dynamic way of checking your clubs is by using the dirt check. This check (which we like best)¬†indicates the lie angle of the club after practice. It’s easy, just don’t clean your clubs as you hit balls in a practice session or round.

Pic 15 By looking at the club face, you can see a dirt mark. If the dirt mark is even with the scoring lines on the club is a club that is correctly fitted and hitting squarely at impact.

Pic 16 A club indicating a line from low heel to high toe indicates a club that is hitting too deeply with the toe and the club is too flat.

Pic 17 A club that shows a dirt mark from high heel to low toe indicates that the club is too upright and needs to be bent flatter.

If you would like to get recommended lie angles and lengths of clubs for you (height vs. wrist to floor, etc..) please email me at timkgraves@aol.com anytime.

Good Luck – Check Those Lie Angles – See what they are telling you….

Remember – ALWAYS PRACTICE WITH A PURPOSE!!