Lie angle is the angle made between the clubhead and shaft. The lie angle of the club establishes the directional loft of the club. This is why improper lie angle on clubs will more than likely cause directional problems for the golfer.
Clubs with too upright a lie have a tendency to pull the ball to the left of the target and will increase the
possibility of imparting hook spin to the ball. Conversely, clubs with a lie that is too flat for a golfer will have a tendency to push the ball right of the target and will increase the possibility of imparting slicing spin to the ball.
Consider this: most everyone realizes lie angle at impact has a direct effect on ball direction, but this isn’t the full story. The lie angle at impact also helps determine solidness of feel, amount of backspin, ball roll, trajectory, and amount of distance of the ball. If the lie angle is not correct for a golfer, he/she must compensate for all or some of these variables on each and every shot. This can make a difficult game even more difficult.
Lie angle is a major factor of accuracy with the short irons, medium factor with mid-irons, and less of a factor with the long irons and woods. This being said, there should still be no deviation in the correct club fitting of lie angle amongst all the clubs. Just know that an incorrect lie angle creates more accuracy issues with the more lofted golf clubs.
Let’s look at some examples that will help explain the importance of lie angle. First, assume you have a 120 yard shot to a pin and your choice of club is a 46 degree pitching wedge. Let’s say you execute the shot perfectly with one exception: the toe of the club is up 4 degrees at impact. This means the lie angle of the club is adjusted too upright for you. This scenario creates a ball that will be pulled 4 degrees left of the target because angle of clubface is tilted 4 degrees in that direction. This creates a ball flight that is roughly 26 feet left of the pin.
If the pin you were playing for was 15 feet right of the greenside bunker, then you just made a technically sound swing and ended up in the bunker. Another example would be a 190 yard shot with a 20 degree 3 iron that was executed well except the toe of the club is 4 degrees upright at impact. This would cause the face angle to point 1.5 degrees left of the target at impact resulting in a shot that is 15 feet off-line.
The lie angle of the putter is also an important factor. Most putters have between 2 and 4 degrees of loft. The putter will still point off-line when the lie angle is not correct. The face is tilted off-line far less than all the other clubs, but considering the hole is 4.5 inches in diameter, there is still a serious effect as the putts get longer. Also if the toe or heel sits off the ground, there can be a chance of scuffing the blade in the ground during impact. This will result in a major loss of distance and accuracy.
As you can see, correct lie angle is a very important element to your equipment. Make sure your lie angles are correct so you can start knocking down the pin.
Brech Spradley, PGA Director of Instruction