How Much Does Lie Angle Matter? – Golf Myths Unplugged

Fun?  No.  Important?  Maybe.

Getting fit for clubs is exciting.  You pick out a new club head, pair it with a fancy shaft, select a fresh grip.  Oh yeah, and you bang a few shots off a piece of plastic.

Lie angle is hardly the most fun part of the club fitting experience, but is it one of the most important?  We did the research to find out exactly how much impact a few degrees of lie can have.

The Myths

Myth #1 – Lie angle affects accuracy

Myth #2 – Lie angle affects distance

Myth #3 – Lie angle affects consistency

Myth #4 – Using a lie board is a good way to fit lie angle

How We Tested

We gathered 7 golfers of varying handicaps for this test.  Each golfer hit 7 shots with a 6-iron set at each of the following lie angles: 57.5, 61.5, and 65.5.  All shots were recorded on Trackman.  Each golfer was also fit for lie angle on a lie board.

All testing was done at and with the help of Club Champion.

The Results

A cursory look at the data shows that lie angle can have a huge effect on accuracy.

Our testers shrunk their left-to-right dispersion by an average of 5.5 yards when comparing their best lie angle fit to their worst.  Some players were able to adapt to a range of lie angles (5 feet difference from best to worst dispersion) but others saw huge differences (one tester shrunk his grouping by 10 yards).

If we look at how far their average shot was from the centerline, we see similar results.  On average, our testers were 3 yards closer to their target with their best fit lie angle.  That’s the difference between a birdie putt inside 10 feet and one that’s closer to 20.

Bonus myth: do more upright clubs produce shots that go further left?

While the data isn’t as clear as you might expect, most of our testers did see their shot groupings shift left as the lie angle became more upright.  It should be emphasized, though, that it’s not a one-to-one correlation.  Some players had nearly identical groupings with two different lie angles, then the third one shifted right or left.  Some testers completely defied the trend.  Some showed no correlation.  As we often show, there are general rules but everyone’s individual needs will vary.

Lie angle had a major impact on many of our tester’s ability to strike the ball solidly, which means it had a large impact on distance.

As we saw with the dispersion and accuracy data, some of our testers were more affected by lie angle than others.  In the most extreme case, a tester could barely put the club on the ball with the flat lie angle, leading to an average total distance that was 63 yards short of his best fit.  On the other end of the spectrum, we had a player whose averages were 175.1, 175.2, and 176.4 across the three different lie angles.

On average, lie angle made a noticeable different for our testers.  Comparing their best fit to their worst fit, our testers gained an average of 17.6 yards of total distance (median 17.8).

Having seen that lie angle clearly affects distance and accuracy, it should come as no surprise that lie angle also affected consistency.

Looking at our testers’ shot patterns, there were significant changes as we moved across lie angles.  Some players would stripe all seven shots at one angle, then hit thin and fat shots with another.  Players who were painting the center line with a flat lie angle were all over the map with an upright one.

Using a lie board is the most common way to fit lie angle, but is it the best?  Does it work at all?  Our data indicates that, at a minimum, it’s a good start.

To judge this myth, we had each tester hit three shots off a lie board and looked at what the lie tape recommended.  Then we compared that to the lie angle that they hit the best during the test.  For five of the seven testers, the lie board was within a degree of what their shot data would recommend.  For the other two, we felt the lie board was pointing in the wrong direction.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this myth would have been the hardest to confirm or bust regardless of the data because of the big jumps in lie angle that we tested.

If you want to learn more about someone who the lie board doesn’t fit, and a more complete way to fit lie angle, click HERE.

Conclusion

While it’s definitely the least exciting part of a club fitting, dialing in your lie angle is critical to maximizing your distance and accuracy with your irons.  We also learned that, for many players, a lie board can be a useful tool for getting the lie angle correct.  However, to make sure everything is optimized, you need to work with a skilled club fitter like Club Champion.

The Data

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)

12 Comments

  1. When I get fitted and get my lie tested should I ask for an actual number like I would with length?

  2. Were these tests off of turf or a mat?

  3. Interesting read. And thank you for posting data. There’s way too much “pseudoscience” and poorly designed “studies” in the online golf world today. This is a step in the right direction.

    In the academic world if you’re not willing to share your data you’re a joke and no one will (or should) take you seriously.

  4. These are 4* lie differences? Of course that would have an effect so I would love to see the effect with a 1* lie change. You hear players on golf forums claim a 1/2* lie change made a big difference and I believe that would support “myth”. I think only the best players in the world that hit thousands of shots every day might be able to tell a difference of 1/2*.

  5. As a premier club fitter, In addition to using a lie board, I would think Club Champion would use a vertical line drawn with a sharpie on the golf ball to help determine best lie fit. (this leaves a mark on the club face and helps show actual lie orientation at impact – I think this is thought to be more accurate than a lie board).

  6. The lie angle is most important in the short, or the so called scoring clubs. Not to say it is not important also in the longer irons, but the short ones are very important, the like angel also has to be figured on an actual swing and not static lie to account for the distortion in the shaft at impact, and the softer the shaft the more distortion. So what I an saying is the shaft can affect the lie angle in a big way. Then of course you have the shaft, the grip, and the looks of the club.

  7. Thank you for the great article. Exactly what i requested from you guys few months back. Great read.

  8. Tom Duckworth

    I’m 6’4″ and my clubs are 2 degrees up and just to add to this article whenever I test irons off the rack in a store the flatter angle always make my shot go right. That makes it a bit harder to test because some fitters don’t have heads that are upright so it makes it kind of guesswork.

  9. The Badger

    Read your article about, How much does Lie Angle Matter?
    Totally an Awesome Read and Specific Facts too.
    Now my question,
    Why do so many Custom Club Fitters, change the Standard Lie Angle for Recreational Golfers When, Upright or Flat Lie Angles effect the results of the Direction to where your Golf Ball goes?
    If the Myths are proven and confirmed with all Irons, wouldn’t it be better to have the correct Length and have all Standard Lies Angles to hit the ball correctly off the Face?

    I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but I will leave my Thoughts retained… :)

    • Matt Saternus

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, but I’m not sure what you’re driving at here. Lie angle can affect both quality of contact and the direction of the ball flight. There is no “standard” lie angle, and every golfer should play the lie that fits their swing the best – i.e. creates consistent, quality contact and puts the ball on the desired starting line.

      Best,

      Matt

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