Lie angle seems like a simple concept. But it’s not. You’d think having the sole of the club parallel to the ground at address would be a good thing. Unfortunately, the issue of lie angle in woods is more complicated. That’s because–and here’s the tricky part–lie angle can change during the swing. The shaft tends to droop slightly as the club makes its way down to the ball. (Check out the tip of the shaft on Michelle Wie’s downswing in the photo at right.) Why? This is heavy physics, but because the center of gravity of the clubhead is not in line with the shaft on the downswing, the centripetal (or pulling) force required to keep the club moving in a circular path is more than 60 pounds when the swing speed is 100 miles per hour, a significantly larger force than one thinks. Today’s super-oversize clubheads and extra-long shafts exacerbate this effect, and that’s another reason today’s drivers may feature a more upright lie angle. If you think your club’s lie angle is too upright, you could hinder your ability to make solid contact if you change the lie angle. My advice: Don’t change it. If the lie angle is slightly upright, it might draw the ball a little, but the effect on ball flight is minimal.
Help me out here. I understand (at a basic level anyway) the advantages of a flatter swing, and therefore the neccessity to flatten the lies of your clubs (even the driver) . This of course flies in the face of conventional wisdom with regards to altering the lies of the driver (tough to do anyway) How much can shaft droop change the lie of a modern driver anyway? It seems that the flatter the swing (with complimentary flatter lies) the more accurate Frank Thomas’ argument becomes…know what I mean? He suggests “…but the effect on ball flight is minimal.” seems to ring truer the flatter the lie of the club is. Do I have a point here?
I can answer part of your question…I’ve got this clubfitting tool that measures dynamic “droop” and “flex” distance. Essentually, it’s a laser that’s mounted on your clubshaft near where the grip ends and the visible shaft begins. The visible beam will make an audible beep when it sees a reflective device such as reflective tape. So what you do is aim the beam on top of the clubface near the hozel if you have a long driver with a gaphite shaft. Then you mount a piece of reflective tape towards the toe on the topside of the clubhead and swing your normal driver speed.
If it beeps then you have a starting point of “dynamic droop distance” from where the beam was initialized to where it beeped. Obviously you keep moving the tape further awwy until you can’t make it beep and this would be your Max droop distance…
The same sort of test can be performed if you rotate the device 90 degrees on the shaft to measure flex or lack of it at impact.
So you’re right the newer clubs droop quite a bit and the older ones not as much with steel shafts and wooden heads…
For some of the guys here who have taken my advice and flattened their gear for reasons I have put forth on other areas of this site, most are carrying more traditional sets to some degree… such as blade long irons… 3, 2, some even 1 irons… There is absolutely no reason that if your lie angle of say a 1 or 2 iron is 52 degrees… (about 6 degrees flat of the traditional standard) then the 3 wood and driver should be even flatter. If one half an inch in shaft length is the progression through the set, and that 1/2 inch length difference is creating about 3/4 of of a degree in lie angle change… then we need to look at that progression properly.
My 1 iron is 40 inches… but my three wood (or two wood) is 42.5… so that is (5) 1/2 increments… so if you consider that 3/4 of a degree of lie angle change per half inch increment… we end up with a 42.5 inch three wood that would be just under 4 degrees difference from the 1 iron (flatter of course) So I set up my three wood at 49.
Then I add another 1 degree of flatness as my driver is at 43 inches.
I tip my woods for the simple fact I like them stiffer… because it gives me better control of the golf ball. Longer shafts do tend to flex more… and toe dip is a factor. But you also have to consider that putting a driver on a tee is essentially flattening out your swing plane another degree… so for me going to 47 degrees with the driver would have logic.
There is also a visual element to consider… Seeing a flatter lie encourages you to swing the club more around your body, than up. If you question this … go bend an old club 12 degrees flat, and see if you have any inclination to want to go up, rather than around.
If we want to use our body to swing the club… as all great ball strikers do…we need to get the club behind us… not up and over our head. If you do go up… then you need to drop it behind you like Furyk does. There is no evidence that you NEED to go up first… but if you flatten your lie angles… it does everything to help you swing the club in a more dynamic way.
Need time to digest that, Lag. NRG, I made a distinction with the driver because those in the know suggest that the lie of a club is less important as the loft and the amount of hookface built into the club decreases i.e. you definately want your wedges properly fitted for the correct lie angles. I posted before where I mentioned that I was a consistent performer with a persimmon driver. I never could adequately account for why. When I “graduated” like a lemming to the “big sticks” I effectively “lost it.” I developed the Tiger Syndrome (no, not that one the other one! ) I was as good as ever with my irons but I could not find the fairway worth a darn. My saving grace actually was a little Hogan Apex five wood that I could shut down and hit a slinging hook with! That club…blew up! I then updated to a Callaway Warbird strong 4 wood with a Memphis 10 steel shaft. I actually hit the strong 4 wood pretty well…it had some heft to it. But the driver…forgetaboutit! My last college tournament was sad. I hit that 4 wood 90% of the time. Thankfully, the tournament was in Arizona and the fairways were running!
Obviously there was less shaft droop with my persimmon. It also had a 42 inch steel shaft. Does the fact that the ball is struck off a tee lend further credence to flatter lies? Static lies do mean something. It is the starting point from which the shaft will move. I think Homer hit the nail of the head about playing the stiffest shafts that you could. Raising the handle of the club up and down and seeing what is does to the clubface is instructive, even with the driver. But as Lag has said the flatter the swing the less this variable (handle height) becomes directional.
There is more to it than just that… Yes, i agree that the loft/lie angle correlation is more important where more loft is involved, in terms directional error caused by striking a ball toe up or toe down.
But what about an open or closed clubface??
I asked Lag to expand on what he meant when he said
When finally i understood what he meant by that, i had my first lightbulb go off.
Well what I was getting at (I think! ) was that lies that are too upright tend to “look” left of straightaway. I do understand (I think ) the implications of a flatter swing plane. I have noticed that TGM instructors often will move the club to the horizontal to demonstrate how it moves in orbit around the left shoulder, like a swinging door. I also noticed how gradual the “opening” and “closing” of the clubface is as it moves on the horizontal plane. I then thought that the further we move from the horizontal plane the more the face of the club as to turn and roll to stay relatively square to the arc. I was told to go as flat as you can by a really good player from the late 50s and 60s. A real Hogan nut! He talked a lot about “connection” although he made a distinction between himself and Ballard (this was mid to late 80s) He told me when Gary Player (a personal friend of his) played in America for the first time a number of players were critical of his swing etc. Hogan apparently told GP that he liked the plane he moved the club on and never to change it. I just never thought to flatten the lies of my clubs anywhere near close to 6 degrees to help achieve this! I am going to experiment on an older set first. I will report back.
I had an old 5 iron made to your personal specs! The Golf Galaxy guy thought I had flipped! He was curious so agreed to do it right then and there if I talked him through why! He liked what I said so he did not charge me!
I braved some nippy weather and hit a bucket o’ fives! WOW! Flat lies aside…D8 feel great! You may be on to something! They were D1 to begin with!
As per usual I had a couple of questions!
I noticed on your spec list that you do not opt for more traditional weaker lofts. Weaker than todays stuff for sure but not quite circa 50’s-60’s. Any rationale behind that. I tweaked the 5 iron from 28 to 32 degrees. I thought heavier would produce a lower ball flight.
Are there any innovative ways to weight the heads without spoiling the look by putting gobs of lead tape on?
I am one for hyberbole (that is for Styles and co.) but usually not as it pertains to my golf game. But I have to say I felt something very different out there today…I think they call it the club head! Even with weaker lofts I hit the ball 5-8 yards longer. Not one pull! The worst shot was a 12 yard push with an additional 5 yard cut. As an old timer once told me a good player can aim his bad shots! Thanks for helping me think out the box!
I don’t carry a 60 degree wedge because I am not afraid to open the clubface. I can get 60, 70,80 whatever I want. So going down 4 degrees from 56, to 52,
to 48 and so on… is what I base things off. The number on the bottom of the club means nothing as most should know by now.
I like to play a lower ball flight than most, because I typically play afternoon “wind” golf, as I find that kind of game much more interesting, intuitive and challenging. If I have to hit the ball high I can… or I can take less club and give it a bit more juice, or take more club, and hit a high cut. Lots of options.
Thanks for the weight advice. I thought as much Lag. Do you see any wisdom in opting for the more traditonal lofts if you do not play in windy conditions? I guess what I am really asking is did Hogan and co. have a major control advantage with the weaker lofted sets? Does anyone know if Hogan’s irons were standard for the time, or not?
Lag, in another thread (which I cannot find at present) you mentioned that stiffer shafts produces a higher trajectory. Why is that? I have heard the opposite, but I have very little knowledge on the subject of club fitting etc. I guess x100shafts that are tipped 1/2 inch, in addition to high swing weights go along way to keeping the ball down, huh? I was wondering if the player was not attempting to hit it quail high that a player would do well to incorporate yet another older standard?
In the Players’ sets at least Hogan was the first company to start strengthening lofts and their standard length was either 1/4 or 1/2 and inch longer than the ‘industry’ standard. Hogan himself liked a little stronger lofts in the irons to lower the flight. Piercing trajectory and COG in the hitting area gives the head the most stability and natural workability. When the COG moves away is when numbers like loft get stupid, like now.
And yes, a shaft that is too stiff gives you a low right ball. Too whippy means high left. In extreme cases like Lag where a player is super super strong and good with the hands you can force a phone pole xxstiff shaft down the line but the ball is still gonna come off dead. Everybody needs action in a shaft no matter how strong they are, it’s a matter of degree.