Why It’s so Important to Have the Right Lie Angle
When golfers buy a new set of irons they don’t usually get any kind of adjustments made, most notably their lie angle. They incorrectly assume what they are buying is right for them.
Today I want to talk about one of the most important things players are overlooking when they purchase an iron set. If this specification is not adjusted properly for their particular swing, it could cause their shots to be traveling 8-10 yards offline from their intended target even if the player made a proper swing.
I am talking about lie angle.
Lie angle is one of the most important, if not THE most important thing to get right when you buy a set of irons. Each manufacturer has a different spec for the lie angle on their clubs, and a majority of golfers never get them adjusted for their particular swing.
What is lie angle?
Lie angle is defined as the angle between the shaft and the ground line when the club is measured in normal playing position with the center of the sole touching the ground line.
The most important thing about measuring lie angle for each particular golfer is how the club is interacting with the ground at impact. The angle of the club when you address the ball is not necessarily important.
There are only two scenarios that occur when your lie angle is not adjusted properly for your swing.
- The club is too upright, and the toe is not making contact with the ground at impact.
- The club is too flat, and the heel is not making contact with the ground at impact.
Take a look at this image to understand the ramifications of each scenario:
If your club is too upright at impact, then your shots will travel to the left of your target. Conversely, if your club is too flat, then your shots will be heading right.
For every degree that your lie angle is either too upright or flat, the ball will initially travel 4 yards off your intended target line. Some players have lie angles that are as much as 2-3 degrees off, which means they are making things very difficult for themselves on approach shots!
There is no standard
Showing up to the store and buying irons off the shelf without testing out the lie angle is a coin flip, because there is no standard for lie angle in the golf industry.
I went to the websites of some of the most popular manufactures and got the standard lie angles for 7-irons; here are the results:
Titlest AP1 – 63 degrees
Callaway XR – 62.5 degrees
Mizuno JPX-EZ – 61.5 degrees
Cobra King F6 – 62.5 degrees
Ping G25 – 62.25 degrees
As you can see, if you bought any of these irons you would be getting various lie angles, and there’s no guarantee any of them are the right ones for you.
How do you measure?
The traditional way to measure the lie angle of a golf club is to use an impact board and place tape on the sole of the club. This was always the basis of Ping’s color system. However, that method is coming into question and has been shown to not be as accurate for a number of reasons.
These days club fitters are using launch monitors to get a more accurate indication of what is going on at impact.
A few months ago I went for a fitting on a Foresight system, and learned that my current set of irons were way too upright for me. You can see in this image that the toe of my club was in the air at impact.
Since then I have corrected the issue with irons that are more flat, and it has straightened out my ball flight considerably. With that one simple fix I have more control over the golf ball.
Not everyone has access to these systems, and there is actually an easy way to measure if your lie angle is correct on your irons. All you need is a marker.
Draw a straight line on the back of the golf ball, and have it facing the clubhead. After you make impact the line will appear on the face.
If it’s pointing towards the toe, then your club is too upright. If it’s pointing towards the heel, then it’s too flat. If the line is perpendicular to the grooves on the face, then your lie angle is correct.
Wrapping it up
To briefly summarize, the lie angle of your irons is extremely important because it will greatly affect the initial direction of your shots. Not all irons are created equal, and most players are using irons that likely do not have the right specifications for their swing.
It’s relatively easy to get this fixed, as most clubs can be bent afterwards. Try this test out with the marker and see what kind of results you are getting with your current set of irons.
Having an incorrect lie angle adjusted can make a world of difference in your approach shots.
You have to work hard to get the line on the golf ball as perpendicular to the ground as possible to use the (dry erase type, please) marker lie check approach. Usually lie adjustments are within +/- 2 degrees or so for most players, so you can see that it’s critical for the line on the ball to be as accurate as you can get it (it doesn’t take much to be off by at least a degree or two). IMO, it’s still better than a lie board as the hit, especially off grass, is more accurate..
Michael Pasvantis says
As an example, if you went for a fitting using a “stock” 7 iron and it was determined that a lie angle adjustment of 2 degrees flat was needed would that adjustment hold true for every iron in that set? I only ask because of the different shaft lengths from iron to iron or would a more proper fitting involve testing each iron individually to determine its proper lie? Thanks!
Yes if you want to be extremely thorough than you would test each iron and have them evaluated. The test was done with my iron set at the time, which clearly showed they they were too upright. Since having them adjusted properly with a new iron set there is no question I am flying the ball straighter, and my greens in regulations has gone up drastically. Long story short, it’s one of the most important (if not the most important) thing to get right with your irons.
I’d like to see what a mathematician thinks of this crap. All else being geometrically consistent, I don’t see how lengthening the shaft can possibly change lie angle. The lie angle is determined by the club casting. That hasn’t changed! You may be standing too far or too close to the ball, but then your set up is no longer consistent.
Of course it would make a difference. A driver would be the same lie angle as a sand wedge if not
Length of any particular club has no effect on lie angle. If I added 2 inches to my 7 iron it would still have the same lie angle. I would have change my stance though. Lie angles change from club to club, getting steeper as we go from driver to wedge and stand further from the ball.
Brad Roche says
Length of shaft does not change the lie angle of the golf club. It does however, change the lie angle that your golf swing requires. I hope that makes more sense.
John charles says
Agree with you, surely lie can be counter acted by set up at address.in other words if your lie angles are wrong then adjust your stance at the ball
But so often they don’t they just test you for the 7 iron and act like it’s a big annoyance if they have to tape other irons. Heck even every other one would work, but they want to default to bare minimum…..
Lie angle means NOTHING!!! Why? If the ball is teed up it does not matter where the ground is at or it position level, up or down sloped. If the ball is on tall grass again it’s teed up. So if a ball on is the fairway on level flat ground the club path will determine the direction of the ball flight not the lie of the club when it strikes the ball.
The reason this is true. Your statement there is no set lie angle among manufactures because it does not matter!!! Note; professional golfers change clubs all the time going from one lie angle to another. The only that matters … is how the golfer feels about those clubs at a particular time period. That could be as long as years, days or even hours!!!
Playing well, hitting well in a mental game!!! It’s not the clubs lie angle!!! 🙂
Donn Rutkoff says
Paul, really? Pros don’t have fitters fitting them exactly ? Reality check. Read up on how much Arnie tinkered with clubs. Ask your local PGA members. Millions of dollars on the line, the most accurate and demanding shotmakers, I think they do care about lie (and loft).
I think what John Wayne said is mostly true, “Life is hard, it’s harder if you’re stupid”! Just sayin’!
Your so wrong. The main issue with having an incorrect lie angle has nothing to do with the toe or heel hitting the ground.
But the real issue with lie angle is the fact that the face of a club only points straight ahead when the lie angle is neutral. For every degree the toe is down, the face of the club face is more open (more to the right) and for every degree that the heel is down, the face of the club is more closed (more to the left).
The math works out that for each degree the lie angle is off will cause a 120 yard shot to be 6.5 feet off target for a 46 degree pitching wedge. 1 degree toe down will cause the shot to be 6.5 right of target and 1 degree heel down will cause the shot to be 6.5 feet left of target. Of course this is with all other things being equal. You can always compensate for this by opening or closing the club face more with your wrists and grip, but assuming that you have a square club face based on your wrist and grip and only your lie angle is too flat or too upright, that alone will cause the face of the club to be aiming off target line in direct correlation to how many degrees too upright or too flat your lie angle is at impact. You can see for yourself. Hold a club with the lie angle neutral and the face aiming straight at a target. Now just raise the grip and shaft so the toe is down and the heel is up. Your club face will now be open, pointing to the right of your target. The more you put the toe down, the more the club face will open and face to the right of target. It’s simple geometry.
Thank you sciencing this. No one ever sciences things anymore.
Bill B says
Also do the same considering an iron being too upright.
Start with the club at address then in increments lower it to the ground until the shaft is on the ground with the toe pointing sky ward. Notice how the face will be pointing very far left.
I saw this in a Maltby book.
Paul, your opinion is wrong, it is simple physics to know that lie angle is extremely important!
Petrasek Judy says
I’d like to see what a mathematician thinks of this crap. All else being geometrically consistent, I don’t see how lengthening the shaft can possibly change lie angle. The lie angle is determined by the club casting. That hasn’t changed! You may be standing too far or too close to the ball, but then your set up is no longer geometrically consistent.
Rick Emery says
The lie angle of the face with respect to the shaft remains the same. The angle of the face with respect to the ground, however, will change because you’ve changed the angle of the shaft with respect to the ground. If the club is longer, the angle of the shaft to ground will be lower. and you’ll be more likely to hit left of target. If the club is shorter, the angle of the shaft to ground will be greater and you’ll be more likely to hit to right of target.
That is is just pure stupidity right there.
Don Eckert says
This comment is absurd! years back I was a want a be professional golfer near scratch and played in a few US open qualifiers etc. I recently by some dumb luck tried and then changed my lie angle to 2 flat and can hardly believe the results. Hitting standard setting does not work as well!
you are an idiot of course it makes a huge difference. I build clubs these are standard rules you go by
Paul, whether the ball is teed up or not does not matter. A magnetic lie detector shows that the direction of the face actually faces left when the club is too upright, and vice versa. Wrong lie angles are more hurtful as the loft of your clubs increases.
Donn Rutkoff says
I want to know why the problem worsens with more loft. I certainly believe lie angle upon impact is important and is changeable and not necessarily constant as shaft length changes. thanks
An improper lie angle of 1degree can start a ball off the club face as much as 4yards off target line. The more loft a clubhead has, the more backspin is imparted,if the player has a natural shot shape draw/fade, then side spin is also created. So if a player is playing a club 1deg to flat for him, his lie angle pushed the ball to right (righthanded player) 4yards off line and say his shot shape is a fade, then the ball is dramatically right of target.
Lie is a major point of accuracy in short / mid irons , medium point of accurancy in long irons (less loft).
Lie angle does matter. Too upright and wedges could be 5 yrds left of target. You could always compromise by aiming 5 yrds to the right but better to have as few compromises as possible.
I was fitted for my irons and they are 1.5 * up ( yellow dot).
I had only just started playing golf again and I was hitting them well.
2 years later, I reckon 40 % of my irons go high and to the left of target. I got myself a foresight quad 2 weeks ago and have set up in the garage……… I’m swinging the club between 1.5 and 2.5* toe up now!!!!
Gonna try red dots this Friday!
Great tool the launch monitors!
I’m short, 5’6″ using off the rack M2 irons. Even choking down, the lie angles are obscene. Way too upright. Never knew why my long irons flew relatively straight (but on occasion pulled left) but my wedges ALWAYS pulled. Good to know I need to get these checked out.
Going to buy new clubs for my daughter at the golf expo. This is great help. Thanks She is 15 and plays on her high school Golf Team
Glad the article helped Henry!
Brilliant article, I got fitted for irons recently but only using the 7 iron as the standard, adjustments were made and was hitting it flush, definitely the most comfortable iron in my bag, struggle a little with lower clubs should I go back and check lie angles with the rest of my set, giving that shaft lengthso vary, thanks
How much will affect you a plus 2 degree lie angel chance of a PW with 45° Loft for example? How many yards will the ball flight to the left? Will it be harder to hit the ball because the clubhead will be stuck in the fairway?
Very interesting… I just got fitted for new irons and learned that I need a 2 degree upright lie angle.
@ Dennis, I’m going to take an educated guess at a calculation:
Tangent of the club loft x Tangent of the Lie Angle x Carry Distance = Distance offline
This means that a low loft club (10 degree driver, hit 260 yards with a “wrong” 2 degree lie angle would only be offline by 1.6 yards.
But a 45 degree wedge hit 130 yards with a “wrong” 2 degree lie angle would be offline by 4.5 yards.
I have just changed from Taylormade custom fit M2s 2degrees flat to standard Mizuno JPX 900 hot metal, because in my old age and disability I have trouble getting the ball high and stopping on the greens. This has worked but I am pulling my short irons and chips over to the left and getting into greenside bunkers and not getting my chips near enough to 1 putt. I am going tomorrow to have the irons flattened 2 degrees as I am nearly positive this will help.
What that Paul guy said was absolute nonsense!!! Unbelievable
lol he’s obviously never played any real golf. He wouldn’t know what to say for a chubbed toe shot into the turf or skulling a perfectly swung iron because his loft was +/- off the scale.
… he’d just complain for the sake of complaining in his stupidity.
I am wondering if the mark towards the toe or the heel, could it be cause by the player shifting position as well? How can you tell it is caused by the lie?
I’m wondering the same thing. Why wouldn’t you just stand a bit closer or further from the ball?
I have short legs so my lie angle on my stock clubs were wrong. I had to manipulate my stance to get the angle right, even after cutting 1/2″ off of my shafts at last re-grip. Doing that, my swing was definitely not right. With the 1/2″ shorter shaft and choking up another 1/2″ or so, I can get the lie flat with a more correct stance. My swing and the ball flight is much nicer now. I need to replace my 15 yr. old irons. A custom fit it will be.
I’m 5’7″ age 83 with 29″ legs, and middle finger 23″ from floor. I have a chance to get Ping irons at great price with 2 deg. upright–my present irons seem flat, but I don’t play much, so I’m not locked in to flat. Should I buy the Pings?
IMO, Don’t buy the Pings until you go to their Website and examine the fitting chart. The suggested lie angle is based on your height and measurement from the wrist to the ground, not the middle finger…This is only a ballpark, fitting is recommended, but if the price is right and the glove fits, then go for it.
Stephen grange says
Lie angle on wedge always 64 or 63!!!! Never go higher unless your crazy or 6’3″ ..YOU WILL THIN OR SHANK if too upright..FACT!!!!
i’ve got a lot and lie adjuster and tried it. The right lie angle will hit off hard pan and feel sweet.
It also does effect direction (it actually effects my direction the opposite to normal of what is said in here but again each swig style is different)
Lie for a stiff shaft set can be set flatter.
Lie for Reg shafts can be set more upright as the softer shaft will flex down a little.
Well if you play on a Downland golf course, I don’t think club angles matter as the ball can be below or above your feet, you just try to adjust your stance and hopefully it will take care of it.
I wonder if there are negative impacts to having clubs adjusted? In other words, if you need a less upright club (I do), should I focus on clubs that are originally built less upright?
There is no negative impact, you could even have them adjusted a second time without a negative impact.
LMAO at the scientists in the comments. Please understand that everything is relative. The lie angle will solely determine where your shots go when the moon disappears. The lie of the club determines how you swing the club and YES, your golf swing determines how the golf ball flies, be it to the right or the left of your target. Having flatter irons makes your swing shallow, and upright irons make your swing steeper. For most golfers, NOT ALL, having a shallow swing will increase consistency of the strike. But it doesn’t increase the center of club strike percentage. That is, yes you guessed it, entirely dependent on your golf swing and how much you practice. The lie angle is not the MOST IMPORTANT thing when purchasing your irons, LMAO. You’re looking at half a degree, or at most 2 degrees of angle change, which for me becomes entirely negligible after getting used to the irons. Loving the irons would increase your practice time, and make you hit more accurate shots, which would require center clubface contact, which comes from practice and, did i mention, loving your clubs. Don’t rush to EBAY now to get yourselves more upright or flat irons.
I just recently got a new iron set….Mavrik Pro’s, and I’m having trouble making solid contact consistently. One of my buddies recently pointed out that the toe of my irons is off the ground when I set up. I guess this means I need them to be flatter. Would this cause me to hit some fat and/or thin shots?
Mat Kline says
Suggest you guys go on YouTube and watch TXG. Ian Fraser is one of the best club fitters in the world and he offers videos with testing and explanations of lie angle. While lie angle does play a role in direction, it’s the length that has the most significant impact. You need the optimum combination of the two to maximize performance. However, this alone will not fix a poor swing plane/path.
I am a bit confused with this. I have a GCquad and my data with a 7i is flat lie (toe down), in to out path 1-3degrees, close face and a decent impact location. My shot pattern is a left miss, sometimes draw or pull. What will be the lie angle modification for my case? Unfortunately club fitting in my location is very poor so I’ve been researching and you can get a decent device for around 500 which I am open to buy and adjust all my irons.