Finding the ideal lie angle

Brian Gay's bogey-free 67 left him three strokes back.
Darren Carroll/SI

Frank Thomas is a former technical director of the United States Golf Association. He has written several books about golf equipment, the most recent being 'Just Hit It: Our Equipment and Our Game.'

If you have a question about golf equipment, e-mail him at [email protected].

Dear Frank,
I’m a 62-year-old man with the physique of a medium-sized LPGA player. I have been told by teaching pros that I have a very good modern setup and swing. I use irons that are 2 degrees flatter than normal, and whenever I buy a set of irons I have them bent. I have noticed from TV that many shorter LPGA players also seem to have flat lies on their irons based on their posture at setup. My problem is that I have not been able to find fairway metals or hybrids that are flat enough for me to swing consistently.

In my normal setup with a driver, the head rests on its heel and the toe is angled several degrees above flat. That’s OK because the ball is teed up, but I can’t do that with the fairways or hybrids without catching the heel and hooking. Do LPGA pros have custom-made fairway metals and hybrids with flatter lies, or do my eyes deceive me? Why don’t manufacturers make such choices available to the general population?

John in Ohio

Dear John,
If your fairway woods have a slightly curved, or radius, sole from the toe to the heel, you probably don’t need to worry about the heel catching the turf and affecting the flight of your shots. Still, you might want to check the lie angle.

A good clubfitter can check the lie angle of your woods (or your irons) by sticking some pressure sensitive tape on the sole of the club, then asking you to hit a few balls off a lie board (which is generally made of hard plastic or wood). The board will leave a scuff mark on the tape. If this mark is on the heel section, then the lie angle is too upright and you’re likely to miss shots to the left. Conversely, if the mark is toward the toe section of the tape, the club is too flat and you will probably miss to the right.

Making a lie angle adjustment on your fairway woods is not something you should do yourself. You may damage the club. Only a professional clubfitter should do this kind of work.

If the loft of the club is relatively low, like a driver, the exact lie angle becomes less important. But if you find that your ball flight is too far left and the lie angle test shows it is too upright and you are smaller than average, then it might be better to order a shorter set of clubs. This may well bring you back to the correct lie angle without the need for adjustment. But don’t make an adjustment unless both your ball flight and the lie board indicate there is a problem.

Thanks for the letter,


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