Golf Club Lie Angle: What it is & Why it’s Important

If you have the wrong lie angle on your golf clubs, you will struggle with making solid, consistent contact. In fact, an improper lie angle can force you into making negative compensations in your swing to make solid contact. This will eventually turn into bad habits.

Golf is hard enough as it is, so you don’t want your equipment working against you. It’s important to make sure you have the correct lie angle on your clubs. Let’s discuss what the lie angle is and why it is vitally important to playing good golf.

What is a golf club lie angle?

The lie angle of a golf club is the angle created between the center of the golf club’s shaft and the club’s sole as you address the ball on flat ground.  We know that is a rather complex definition so let us use some imagery. Picture yourself properly addressing your next golf shot with the club resting on the ground behind the golf ball.  

Notice how there is a straight line that extends from the back of the heel of the club across the flat ground. In your mind, try to see the angle of that line between the ground and the golf club’s shaft. That angle is considered the golf club’s lie angle. Here is a picture that will help give you a clear visual of the lie angle.

picture showing club lie angle

There are 3 Different Types of Lie Angles

Upright Lie Angle

An upright lie angle is when the toe of the club is up off the ground. Though it depends more on the golfer’s individual swing, their overall height plays a role. As a general rule of thumb, taller golfers usually need a tad bit more of an upright lie in their irons.  

This lie angle is the second most common type because lots of amateur golfers struggle with an over-the-top swing plane and the upright lie angle helps keep the ball from heading too far to the right each time. Be careful with going with too much of an upright lie, though, as this could lead to those dreaded sharp duck hooks into the water that we all hate.

Standard Lie Angle

A standard lie angle is when the sole rests flat on the ground. If you have ever bought a set of golf clubs straight off the rack (without being fitted), you probably purchased standard lie angle clubs because these are the most commonly sold in golf stores.

Flat Lie Angle

A flat lie angle is when the club’s toe is on the ground, but the heel is lifted. Shorter golfers often need a flatter lie angle, but again that is not a rule in stone. If you use flat lie angle clubs and tend to slice the ball quite a bit, you may consider trying standard lie clubs. Also, if the toe of your club seems to hit the ground before the heel does, you may be playing with clubs that are too flat.

lie angle types

Why is it so important to have clubs with the right lie angle?

Golf is a hard enough game to play, even with the right equipment. However, if your equipment is always working against you, you will constantly be fighting your golf swing on the course. This is no fun and leads to lots of frustration during your rounds.

Golf is a game of angles. A golf club that is off by a couple of degrees for your swing type may not sound like that big of a deal. However, that small difference in degrees can be the difference between a well-struck iron shot and a slice or hook.

We all know how good it feels to pure a 7-iron shot right next to the pin. However, those solidly hit shots will be few and far between during your round without the proper lie angle. A simple lie angle adjustment of only a couple of degrees can make it much easier for the golfer to find the ‘sweet spot’ of the clubface more often.

Impact of Lie Angle on Golf Shots

Did you know that if your golf club’s lie angle is off by even one degree, your ball could go as much as four yards off your intended target? Imagine if your lie angle is off by two or three degrees?

Having the wrong lie angle can also force your brain to compensate and adjust your swing path, leading to poor habits in the fundamentals of your swing.

Common Results of Playing Too Flat Lie Angles

You know that awful feeling when the toe of your golf club digs into the ground at impact? Unfortunately, that is a sign that your clubs may be too flat for your body or swing type.

The toe of the club hitting the ground first causes all sorts of mishits but mainly lots of pushes and slices. You may also notice that the heel of your golf club will never touch the ground if the lie angle is too flat. Do you hit a lot of shots off the toe? If so, your golf clubs’ lie angles may indeed be too flat.

Common Results of Too Upright Lie Angles

On the other hand, if you are playing with golf clubs with too much of an upright lie angle, the toe of your club will not even touch the ground at impact.  The club toe will often be pointed slightly up at impact, and the heel may hit off the ground. This will lead to lots of mishits like hooks and pulls (and lots of time looking for your ball in the woods) because the clubface becomes too shut at impact.

How do you measure the lie angle of a golf club?

The old-school way of measuring lie angle uses a couple of commonly used golf tools: an impact board and some tape. Tape up the sole of your golf club and hit a few shots off the impact board. By looking at both the tape and the impact board, you can tell what general type of lie angle you need.

Another decent way to tell what type of lie angle you need is simply using a magic marker. Take the marker and draw a straight line on the back of the golf ball.  Make sure that line faces the center of your club and hits the ball.  

Look down at your clubface and study where the ink is on it. If the ink is angled toward the toe of your clubface, the club you are using has too much of an upright lie angle. Conversely, if the ink points toward the heel of the clubface, the lie angle is too flat for your swing.

What lie angle should my clubs be? 

That question depends on many factors and is impossible to answer without seeing your swing and what clubs you are currently using. Though you can learn a great deal by using the impact board and the marker trick, it is best to seek out a professional club fitter so that you can enjoy the best possible results on the course. If you are in the market for a new set of golf clubs, the fitting is thrown in for free as long as you commit to buying.

Most club fitters will use the impact board and tape to determine what lie angle you need. However, modern-day technology advances like launch monitors have enabled golfers to precisely study and pinpoint what is really occurring when they impact the golf ball. You could go to a club-fitter with this type of cool technology, or you could consider renting a launch monitor if you are comfortable doing so.

However, while finding the correct lie angle is vital, keep in mind that it is not some magical cure that will fix an improper swing path. If you are fighting common swing flaws like ‘coming over the top’ or swinging on an out-to-in swing path, you will continue to experience the frustration of pushes and slices. It never hurts to have a good club pro take a look at your swing on the range to see if swing flaws or equipment flaws cause your headaches on the course.

When it comes to lie angles, not all brands are created equal

It is interesting to note that all the big-name club manufacturers have a different idea of a standard lie angle. For example, there is a 1.5-degree difference between a Titleist 7-iron (63 degrees) and a Mizuno 7-iron (61.5 degrees). This goes to show how important a proper fitting is when purchasing new golf clubs. In other words, make sure your favorite brand actually works for your golf swing.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with 25 years of experience playing and coaching golfers around the world. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn and enjoy the game of golf.