How Does Lie Angle Affect Golf Shots?
Why is the lie angle of your golf clubs important - particularly in irons and wedges - and how can playing with the wrong lie angle affect your shots? Lie angle is an important part of the golf club custom fitting process, and these are the two main questions we tackle in both this article and the accompanying short video with highly experienced Ping club fitter, Nick Boulton, to help you understand this important topic.
But first, what is lie angle? In simple terms, it's the angle created between the shaft and the sole of your golf club when looking at it face-on, but you're interested in optimising that angle at impact rather than how the club sits to the ground at address. What you’re really looking for is a lie angle that allows the sole of the club to be coming through flat to the ground at impact.
It's important because if your lie angle is wrong, it will make things more difficult for your club to interact with the ground optimally at impact, and there will also most likely be directional issues as a result.
If the sole does not come through to the ball flat to the ground but rather with the heel down more, this means that the club's lie angle is too upright for you. The club will then be aiming left and the ball is more likely to go to the left.
Conversely, if the lie angle is too flat for you, the toe of the club will be down too much coming into impact and the club will be aiming to the right too so the ball is more likely to fly to the right.
To check for the correct lie angle, a club fitter will first assess your height and arm length to find a starting point regarding the potential correct lie angle for you. They will then get you to hit off a firm impact board – also called a diagnostic board – after attaching a sticker to the sole of the club.
Impacting on the harder board creates a mark in the sticker which will tell the fitter how the club would be interacting with the ground or turf through impact. You’re looking for a nice central mark, but if the mark is towards the heel the club is too upright for you; if the mark is towards the toe then the club is too flat for you.
Clearly, there is some relationship between length of shaft and lie angle as, if your clubs are either too long or too short for you, it will affect how the clubs interacts with the turf through impact. This is why finding the correct shaft length also forms part of the club fitting process, and indeed, should be considered before then looking to find the correct lie angle.
Taller golfers are more likely to require longer clubs and shorter golfers shorter clubs, but this is far from a given as it's not just height that is a factor, but also arm length. If a tall golfer also has long arms, for example, the two might effectively cancel each other out meaning standard length and lie could be the best option.
In general terms, every extra half inch of shaft length added will make the club play 1˚ more upright and vice versa for shorter shaft lengths. But all of this will be taken into account in a professional club fitting, with Ping's famous colour code chart, for example, ranging from 4˚ flat to 5˚ upright, with black the standard lie angle.
It's worth noting that the more extreme ends of this lie angle spectrum will be required relatively rarely, with most lie angle adjustments within the +/-2˚ band. Finally, it's also worth noting that there is no such thing as a universal 'standard' lie angle, and that the 'standard' figure may vary from brand to brand.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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