One of the most important . . . and misunderstood and/or overlooked aspects of your golf clubs is the lie angle. That is the angle of the clubhead and shaft that is built into each club, and it has a huge impact on the quality of contact you will make with the ball, and on the flight path the ball will take as a result. Getting the right lie angle prescription is one of the major points of dynamic clubfitting. And the only way it can be done correctly is to do it dynamically . . . hitting actual golf shots with your clubs.
Yes, there are some online and other methods for “fitting” that ask for your height and wrist-to-floor measurement, but that is based on a projected “typical” posture and set-up at address, and the assumption that all golfers swing the same way. Neither are reliable at all.
The only thing that matters in lie angle fitting is how YOU set up and swing YOUR clubs. The goal is simple – to make sure that the sole of your clubs interact with the turf properly, where the score-lines and sole of the club are parallel to the ground through impact. If the lie angle of your clubs is too upright for you, the heel of the club will dig deeper through impact and cause ball flight to go left and lower. If the lie angle it too flat, the toe will dig through impact and cause the opposite. But here’s where it becomes tricky, in my opinion.
The trend to dynamic fitting over the past few years has shown (or caused?) a movement to longer and more upright golf clubs. That’s because the typical recreational golfer makes a swing that delivers an excessively downward path of the clubhead to the ball; he or she engages their upper body too much, their stronger right shoulder and arm too much (right handed players) and they hit “at” the ball, rather than swing through the impact zone. Dynamic fitting then shows that you “need” clubs that are longer and more upright, when what you really need is to learn a more proper move from the top of the swing through the impact zone.
Now I understand that golfers today are bigger, taller and stronger than the typical golfer of 2-3 decades back. Few pro golfers then were over 6 feet tall, and now almost all of them are. So, it stands to reason that clubs have to get longer and more upright, right? Well, they have, but the typical 6’2” golf professional is playing clubs at a much flatter lie than most of his recreational counterparts of the same size. On the PGA Tour, length and lie angles are typically shorter and flatter than what we see coming out of the fitting carts for recreational golfers.
A trip to a good fitter . . . . or two or three for second opinions . . . is a great investment in your game. But you can also “do it yourself” a bit if you’d like. Simply take your 6-iron and PW out to the range with a small piece of thin plywood or plastic – about 10” wide by 18” long or so. Put a strip of masking tape on the bottom of each club and hit a few balls off the hard surface. Then look at the bottom to see where the club’s sole was making impact. If you haven’t been custom-fitted, you’ll probably see it toward the toe. This is certainly not a substitute for a good thorough fitting, but you’ll probably learn something about golf clubs and your swing.
The next step is to put new tape on the sole and make swings while TRYING to move that contact toward the middle of the sole or even toward the heel. Just think how you have to move back and through so that the sole engages the board differently. And watch what happens to your ball flight as you do that.
I promise you it will be a fun and enlightening experiment.