The Truth About 'Lie Angle' In Golf Clubs: What It Is, Why It Matters

Lie angle is the angle between the shaft and groundline of a golf club
The 'lie angle' of any golf clubhead is the angle between the center of the shaft and the sole. About.com

The "lie angle" of any golf club is the angle formed between the center of the shaft and the sole, or ground line, of the club when the club is soled in its proper playing position (as at address). Picture the club properly soled on flat ground, with a straight line extending back from the heel of the club along the ground. Now imagine measuring the angle from that line up to the shaft. That's the lie angle.

Lie angles almost always range from the mid-50 degrees (in drivers) to the mid-60 degrees (in short irons). In irons, the range is typically from 59 or 60 degrees to around 64 degrees. (Lie angles on putters reach into the 70s.)

Lie angle is a factor that affects the accuracy of golf shots. Golfers who use clubs whose lie angles don't fit their body types and/or golf swings are costing themselves strokes.

'Flat' and 'Upright' Are Important Adjectives for Lie Angles

Lie angle is an important factor in clubfitting (making sure one's golf clubs properly fit one's body and swing). And there are three terms used in fitting golfers for lie angle:

  • Standard lie angle, what off-the-shelf golf clubs are designed with;
  • Flat lie angle, a lie angle that is lower than the standard lie angle (a 62-degree lie angle on a 9-iron is flatter than the standard 9-iron lie angle of around 64 degrees);
  • Upright lie angle, a lie angle that is higher than the standard lie angle (a 66-degree lie angle on a 9-iron is more upright than the standard 9-iron lie angle of around 64 degrees).

    You might hear a golfer (or clubfitter) saying things such as, "You need flatter lie angles on your irons," or "I had my irons bent 1-degree upright."

    The Impact of Lie Angle on Golf Shots

    The lie angle of your clubs needs to fit your game - your swing, your body. And if the lie angle of your clubs is ill-suited to you?

    Bad things can happen to your golf shots.

    When the lie angle of your clubs is wrong for your swing or body type, you can put a great swing on the ball and still have problems with accuracy. Poorly fitting lie angles create pushes and pulls and other mishits.

    Tom Wishon, a longtime golf club designer and manufacturer and founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology, explains:

    "The lie angle is considered to be perfect for the golfer when the sole arrives at impact perfectly parallel to the ground.

    "If the lie angle is incorrect for the golfer, such that the toe of the clubhead is tilted well up in relation to the heel, the face is automatically pointing to the hook side of the target line. Conversely, if the clubhead arrives at impact tilted with the heel well up compared to the toe, the face of the clubhead is pointing to the slice side of the target line."

    Summarizing that:

    • If the toe of the club is up (relative to the heel) at impact, the clubface will point to the left (for a right-handed golfer);
    • If the heel is up (relative to the toe) at impact, the clubface will point to the right (for a right-handed golfer).

    A toe-up position at impact indicates that your lie angle might be too upright; a toe-down position at impact indicates that your lie angle might be too flat.

    In addition to the effects on your shots telling you there might be a problem with the lie angles of your clubs, your divots can also offer clues. If your divots are deeper on the toe side than the heel side (toe down, heel up at impact) or deeper on the heel side than the toe side (toe up, heel down at impact), that's a sign your lie angles might be too flat or too upright.

    Proper Lie Angle Is More Important in Irons Than in Woods

    Don't misunderstand: Lie angle is an important factor in all golf clubs, even the putter. But having improperly fit lie angles causes more problems in irons than in the woods.

    "The greater the loft on the face of the clubhead, the more off-line the face will point when the lie angle is not correct for the golfer," Wishon explains. "Thus, the lie angle is much more important to be fit to the golfer in the irons than it is in the woods, since irons have a little to a lot more loft than do woods."

    Lie Angles Checked During Clubfitting

    If you think the lie angles on your golf clubs might be ill-fitting, visit a clubfitter. The clubfitter will check out you and your clubs by taking measurements and monitoring your swings. If there's a problem with lie angles, most (but not all) irons can be bent at the hosel to increase or decrease the lie angle.

    And if you are serious about golf, want to maximize your scoring ability, and are shopping for new clubs, visit a clubfitter first. Find out if you need upright or flat lie angles before spending the money on new clubs.

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