Flat vs Upright

Thanks for that information! I have learned so much from hanging out at this website for the last two months! My swing has improved dramatically!

I was also wondering why 6 degrees tends to be the magic ABS number? Lag, why 6 for you instead of lets say 8 that Hogan was rumored to have?

I am 6 feet tall, and six down is about right. If I were 5-8 I would play 8 down. A player who is tall say 6-4 I think can play 4 degrees flat. We have a few tall ABSers who are around 6-4 and are not having an issue with 4 down.

Lag: “I am 6 feet tall, and six down is about right. If I were 5-8 I would play 8 down. A player who is tall say 6-4 I think can play 4 degrees flat. We have a few tall ABSers who are around 6-4 and are not having an issue with 4 down.”


Are you referring to 6 degrees down from modern lie angles? When I had my set of Apex II’s flattened a few months ago I used your specs (located elsewhere on the forum) as a guide. Were those lie angles 6 degrees off of a certain standard?


If a player is 6’4" with shafts 1" longer than standard, would you still recomend 4 degrees flat or go flatter? I know these specs should be measured in person. Just looking for an approximate estimation. Thanks

Lengthening the shafts will flatten the lie angle if you push the club out a bit from you. If you keep the same distance from the ball and lengthen you would probably have to raise your hands up some. So it depends.

I am not a big fan of lengthening the clubs as you loose a bit of control in doing so… I suppose an inch is ok, but there always is a trade off. If you lengthen and stand a bit farther, then you can flatten the lie angle a bit to help so that might neutralize the situation. It puts a bit more weight into the club, but not in the right place. You want your mass down in or near the head, not in the grip area.

This post is gold. I always wanted a flat hitting swing but didn’t understand how important it was to have strong hands, forearms, pivot etc. The golf swing can really become complicated when you start mixing swinging & hitting protocols. :astonished:

It’s amazing that even in today’s age of analytical machines and technology, it still isn’t clear to the general golf instruction community that such a line of demarcation really exists in the golf swing… hitting and swinging. Maybe there is more money to be made trying to convince the general golfing public that they need their shafts spined and frequency matched. If you are truly holding shaft flex, a lot of that stuff goes out the window… it just isn’t necessary. I see things like “smash factor” pop up as a tour statistic… but do they really have an equation that includes the mass of the clubhead or the total deadweight of the golf club? No. It’s an incredible oversight to not consider the mass of the golf club into the equation. Mass transfers a much greater feel in a good players hands. This is not coming up on the science charts… but it should. Golf is a game of feel. Given an equal velocity coming into impact, the club that is heavier is going to hit the ball farther and straighter because it will also resist torquing of the face on off centered hits. Lower speed but higher thrust is the ticket to better more consistent ball striking. If you are holding shaft flex, then you are striking the ball with not just the clubhead, but the shaft as well… and even working deeper into the body. This is the stuff of the greats. If the shaft releases pre impact, then it’s a momentum strike with a free wheeling clubhead that needs to have all that stuff lined up perfectly coming into impact. It’s a more difficult way to do it… but not in anyway impossible.

Lower speed but higher thrust is the ticket to better more consistent ball striking.

…Impact is heavy rather than quick.

Interesting topic! So is it possible for your shoulders to be too flat in the backswing?

One thing that stuck out to me about this topic is bending your knees in order for your body to promote a flatter shoulder turn. I would agree with this theory; however, when looking at supposedly the poster child for taller players (George archer) -he has huge knee bend but has steep shoulders to the ball. I don’t see how he can be a good example for taller players besides his great knee bend.

The shoulders being too flat or upright on the backswing depends upon other things. Both can work. Upright shoulders require the right arm to straighten out quickly on the downswing to stop from coming OTT… othewise, one would have to play very upright gear with offset.

If the shoulders are flat on the backswing, then it is easier to work the shaft more behind you through transition because the club is already on it’s way there. But the shaft coming from behind and shallow… needs to work in tandem with very strong forearm rotation through impact. If you have that in place, then flat shoulders work out really well.

Of course there are other considerations like right leg loading, knee flex, and how the shoulders work through and post impact.

Archer is a good example of how a taller player can still flatten the shaft down into P3, and strike through the ball with good knee flex. His shoulders did tilt under a bit through and post impact. To do that you lose a bit of power and add extra clubface rotation post impact. It can work, maybe not ideal, but obviously he struck the ball very well.

Throughout my years of playing, I’ve never paid any attention to specs, particularly lie angle. Until, that is, joining this forum recently.
Before I sign up for the initial modules, I likely will purchase a set of old forged blades and have Lag ABS them (yes, ‘ABS’ is a verb which is a sign of success :slight_smile: ) I already own persimmon woods, but may have them ABSed, too, as they may not have desired weight (I remember that my driver has a D2 swing weight when I purchased my woods in the 1970s).

But while sitting here at home on a rainy Sunday watching the 4th round at Pebble (Jimmy Walker is threatening to make this interesting down the stretch), I’ve looked at my irons that I’ve owned since 1983 (Ping Eye2) and looked at a few things online. And, I’m a bit confused and have some questions in order to learn (and I’d like to get them adjusted independent of an ABSed set of blades/persimmons)…

My irons have the ‘orange’ color code, which according to the Ping club charts indicate that they are 2.25* flat. Interestingly, when I apply my own body measurements — 5’8" height and 34.5" wrist to floor — the chart indicates that I should be ‘blue’ – 0.75* upright (and all charts indicate that my body measurements indicate standard club length). But, if that were true, my current clubs should not have the lie that they do at address - toe up, thus too upright. I don’t think my hands are abnormally low at address, but who knows – I’ve never had a lesson or have ever been videotaped.

So obviously these observations lend to my confusion. So, beyond these seeming contradictions, here are some questions:

A flat lie angle is an angle that is lower than ‘standard’. But, what is ‘standard’? Is there a lie angle of say a 6 iron that is deemed to be ‘standard’? Has ‘standard’ changed with changing club technology?

What lie angle is important here — lie angle at address or at impact? Therefore, should lie angle be chosen based on address or at impact (and can/should they be different)? Thus, should lie angle be selected dynamically or statically? And, does the choice (static vs dynamic fitting) depend on the ability of the golfer?

Is shaft length a component I’m not including here and should be? Should lie be fitted after selection of shaft length, because length affects a dynamic lie angle (I have read that every half-inch of length added makes an iron club play 1* more upright, etc.).

I doubt these questions have straightforward answers, but I look forward to any/all responses.

I think it’s best to get an understanding of why you would want to be flat in the first place.

Then, if you understand the advantages of that, then you can start to work on a golf swing that accommodates.
Most anyone can swing flatter, I have had students here that stand 6-4 that have played off irons 6 degrees flat.

The custom clubfitting approach IS CORRECT IF YOU DON"T PLAN TO CHANGE YOUR SWING!

However, custom clubfitting can also imprison you into and upright swing with no chance or properly swinging flatter.

Swingers can get away with upright gear easier than hitters. But a flat swinger, and particularly a flat swing hitter takes an enormous amount of “timing” out of the golf swing. If you can “time” an upright swinging action, then more power to you. It can be done… but it makes golf more difficult. Look no further than Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player ever who mastered a more upright swinging release but made the game LOOK very difficult (slow, intense concentration, etc)
Jack would be the first to admit that Hogan was the purest striker he ever saw even into the tail end of Hogan’s career.

Point being, you don’t have to swing flat clubs to be a great player. It’s just easier to do if you understand the how and why.

The standard has changed I believe. The old standard I think you can find on this site in the equipment forum.

Ping’s are cast clubs that are brittle when bending. This is why Ping had or still has the color coding system. They are not meant to be bent and for good reason.

I have some students who play off upright gear and do fine. I don’t mind working with them as long as they don’t have a problem missing long and left or pulling the ball, OTT etc. But I am convinced it is not the best way to do things. I have played everything from 2 degrees upright in college to 6 degrees down where I have been for quite some time. I could go out and beat the player I was in college any time and I hardly play and don’t practice anymore.

Wish I knew then…

Thank you, Lag.

In the past month or so, I have come to my own conclusion that I want a flat swing because my biggest problem is shot dispersion, and the pull/pull-draw is the error with which I am most familiar. Lately, I have started to wonder if my lie angles might be part of this problem. I leave balls out to the right, too, but that tends to happen when I lock up my legs (my legs straighten) or I just don’t release through impact properly. Inconsistency has become my constant companion. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to play enough to ever get the swing/timing perfection required with a swinger’s approach. Recently taking up the game again, I have approached my swing from a tempo/timing perspective (I believe that is more of a swinger’s approach), but in terms of how flat or upright my swing is, I don’t know because I’ve never seen myself hit a golf ball. Ever. In my younger years, when I was a single-handicapper, I had a much more athletic swing, but I don’t know if it was flat. My Dad had a fairly flat swing and I learned the game from him, so who knows. As a matter of fact, all the older guys when I was a kid learning had similarly flat swings, and they could really play because they seemingly never missed a fairway or green. I wasn’t concerned with timing or tempo back then. My swing as I remember it was purely natural. It was ‘me’. Only in the last week have I tried to remember that and how it felt. Approaching my swing with a swinger’s mentality doesn’t feel like me at all. And ABS is the first place that I have found that talks about hitting vs swinging/flat vs upright with any intelligence and credibility (and learning about Bradley Hughes through ABS has been a nice bonus). So, I want to learn what I now believe is a better approach, for me, to greater consistency. I really don’t care about anything but fairways and greens because by maximizing those, significant improvement and enjoyment is a given. To me, distance is a shiny object that gets me into trouble.

Thanks for letting me know, because now I won’t go and get them bent (broken). :frowning:
However, I’m still confused because I have irons that at address have the toe up a bit, but the color (orange) tells be that they are a couple of degrees flatter than my height and wrist-to-ground distance recommend. So, either my hands are abnormally low at address (I don’t think they are) or the shafts are longer than normal or should be. Either way, it doesn’t matter if I won’t get them altered.

So, before entering the modules, would it be best if I purchased different irons (perhaps some old forged blades off of Ebay) and had them bent/ABSed?

Thanks again for the quick reply.

If you haven’t seen the posts yet, nfbandon is selling some sets that are already at ABS spec.

A nice post from Monte Scheinblum’s blog about the proper (shallow) path through the ball.

The big issue most golfers of all skill levels have…
…is having the proper balance between having the club head stay on the arc and move left after impact, without the shaft and/or angle of attack being steep.
In other words, you see golfers who swing the club left, but they are steep and you see golfers who are shallow, but the club swings too far right. What you see few of is golfers who are shallow and the club moves left after impact.
That is the secret. Get the club to move left after impact, but coming in shallow and with a shallow shaft angle.
So in turn, the secret is learning how to shallow the club in transition.
The way to set that up is to not be too inside on the backswing.
This sounds technical, but it is not. When you pull the butt of the club to the ball…steep. That’s your over the top, shank, early extension…etc.
When you transition properly and the right elbow leads and drops in front of the right hip, that shallows the shaft and forces the body to rotate.
In other words, steeping the shaft forces the body to do bad things to hit the ball, while shallowing the shaft forces the body to rotate.”

A lot of familiar ideas for ABSers

The full Monte is cool n’ all, but that passage could be summed up in 6 words and one comma from the intention garden which takes care of low flight and low path.

Hit the ball forward, not up

I really agree with the second point here. I find that if I start aiming right my post impact pivot thrust and shoulder rotation isn’t as good. Ive always found that if im in a pressure situation and i have ob or water on the leftside i have the most success if i aim towards it and really make and aggressive swing and pivot. I like this video of Lietzke, i like how he’s aiming over the lake, if i was playing that hole i would aim it right at the guy on standing just left of the green and really commit to making a good pivot and turning through the shot, if i do that i find that it almost never goes left, almost like the fact that im aiming left really forces me to make a good swing and not quit on it or it will go even more left. Of course you could just aim at the middle of the green and do the same thing but ive found that that doesn’t always work as well for me.


Congrats to Neil taking home the Scottish Hickory Open this last week here in May of 2022. Great to see another ABSer holding the trophy! Post that when you get a chance Neil!

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For clarity sake in case you have newer people read the thread …

Does a swing’s flatness or uprightness refer to how high the rear elbow gets in the backswing?