## Fitting for Lie Angle

As with length, there are both static and dynamic ways to fit for lie angle. As with length, the dynamic methods will just about always get it right, but the static methods are quite reliable for a remarkably large share of the golfing population.

### Static Fitting

Static lie methods, at least the valid ones, are basically the same as the static length methods. They size up the golfer for length, assuming that the clubs will be the "standard" lie angles. So let's review the table of "standard men's" lengths and lies from the previous chapter. The yellow numbers are from the mid-1990s, when I wrote the first version of these Club Design Notes. Since then, the usual numbers have changes by quite a bit (though not as much as loft has). Some of the differences:
• Lengths are longer, typically by 1/2" in the irons and more in the metalwoods. This can be rationally explained by the prevalence of graphite shafts, which allow the clubs to be built longer at the same heft.
• Lie angles are closer together: 1/2 degree per club for most of the set. I have no rational explanation for this. the length differences are still 1/2 inch, and the relevant geometry hasn't changed since ancient Greece. (See below to understand what geometry has to do with it.) So I don't have a good explanation.
• The variation from model to model is greater. In the early 1990s, the 1995 lineup was in almost all the irons you could buy. My table of the 2020 lineup was a consensus number across a bunch of models and manufacturers, with variations of a degree from the number shown.
But in the final analysis, they are just a set of numbers; you still have to do a fitting to get the correct numbers.

 Length Lie Club 1995 2020 Length Lie 1-wood 43" 55° 45.8" 58° 3-wood 42" 56° 43" 56° 5-wood 41" 57° 42.5" 56.5° 1-iron 39.5" 56° -- -- 2-iron 39" 57° -- -- 3-iron 38.5" 58° 39" 60° 4-iron 38" 59° 38.5" 60.5° 5-iron 37.5" 60° 38" 61° 6-iron 37" 61° 37.5" 61.5° 7-iron 36.5" 62° 37" 62° 8-iron 36" 63° 36.5" 62.5° 9-iron 35.5" 64° 36" 63° Wedges 35.5" 64° 35.8" 63.5°

The rationale for a combined length/lie table like this is a pretty good one:

• By keeping the lie "standard" and choosing length for your body proportions, you are keeping the "standard" (and presumably optimum) swing plane. You are proportioning your swing to your body. Fallacy: your ideal club length may not just be dependent on your body measurements. See the section on length fitting.
• By keeping the lie "standard", you will be able to use the generally available components without having to bend them to a custom lie angle. Fallacy: length is a more basic fitting element than lie angle. You should choose the length first, and then get or create the lie angle that complements it for that golfer's swing.
• If the golfer's swing plane is other than "standard" (or if other factors -- like swingweight -- dictate the length), it is an easy matter to calculate the change in lie angle for a change in length.

### Dynamic Fitting

Dynamic fitting for lie is easier than dynamic fitting for length. The dynamic lie test is very easy and usually very accurate. In most good professional fittings, it is the last step of the process before turning the golfer loose with the clubs. The fitter adjusts the clubs (usually irons for lie angle (and often loft as well) using a bending machine.

Tape the soles of the calibration clubs with masking tape. Place a piece of thin plywood or masonite on the ground, its surface level with the ground on which the golfer is standing. Have the golfer take a few good swings with each club, at a ball located on the center of the plywood. The effective swings must "clip grass"; that is, it must strike the plywood so that it marks the masking tape on the sole.

Now look at where the mark on the masking tape is:

• If it is right in the middle of the sole (that is, under the sweet spot), then that club is the right lie for that golfer at that length.
• If it is more towards the heel, the club is either too long or too upright.
• If it is more towards the toe, the club is either too short or too flat.
That said, you have to be careful that you are reading valid information from the sole. If the clubface is not square when the sole impacts the board, then the scuff will not be centered even if the lie is perfect. But you can tell in a couple of ways.
• The ball flight will hook or slice if the clubface was not square to the clubhead path.
• The scuff mark will not be in the middle of the sole front-to-back. If the face was closed, the scuff will be toward the face (and probably more toward the toe than appropriate for the lie angle). Conversely, and open face will result in a scuff toward the back of the sole (as well as toward the heel). I learned this last one from a Henry-Griffitts fitting manual from around 1990.
So you have a scuff mark. If it is in the middle of the sole, you're set; the lie is correct for the golfer. But if not, you need an estimate of what distance on the sole corresponds to what lie angle error (or length error). This is highly dependent on the shape of the sole (especially the amount of rocker, which is heel-toe curvature), and is probably not a reliable way to get a final measurement. I have seen soles so curved that 1/12" corresponded to a degree of lie, and soles so flat that a degree of lie moved the mark over 3/8". But most irons seem to have a sole rocker of 3/16" to 1/4" per degree.

Example: A valid scuff mark is centered about 3/8" away from the center of the sole, toward the toe. Since it is toward the toe, it is too flat; it needs to be bent more upright. If the sole rocker is a "normal" 1/4" per degree, then 3/8" represents an error of one and a half degrees. We have to bend the club 1.5° more upright.

### Variations

There are variants of dynamic lie fitting. Here are two I am familiar with:
• Plastic lie board - This is a very minor change from the method above. Instead of taping the sole and hitting the ball from a wooden board, you can use a plastic board designed for the purpose. The "lie board" is usually black or dark green. Since the plastic is softer than the sole of the club, some of the pigmented plastic will scrape off the board onto the club. Instead of looking at a scuffed tape, you are looking at a dark mark on the sole of the club.

Here's a modification I made to the lie board I use. The board originally came with an indentation for the ball about an inch from one end. That's a problem! If you turn it so the ball is at the target end of the board, the mark will only show if sole contact is fat, or at least not the proper divot-after-ball. And if you turn it around the other way, even a slightly fat hit will send the ball downrange -- or wreck it altogether. (Don't ask how I know.) I used a drill to make a couple of indentations in the lie board a third of the way from each end. Much better!
• Vertical line on the ball - You don't need a board at all for this; you can hit off grass or a range mat. Make a straight line on the ball with a Sharpie or a dry-erase marker. Place the ball so (a) the line is the first thing the clubface contacts and (b) the line is perfectly vertical. Hit the ball. An image of the line will transfer to the clubface. The angle between the line image and the grooves should be exactly 90° if the lie is correct. If not, you know exactly how much to correct.

This is a much better method in theory. My problem with it is in practice. I am very skeptical that you can orient the line perfectly vertical, only only slightly less skeptical that you can read the angle between the line and the grooves accurately. Remember every degree of uncertainty in either of these measurements is a potential lie angle error of a degree. I'm pretty sure I can't do it freehand; if you can, more power to you.
• Impromptu field check - Some shots have a "turf line" on the bottom of the face, where the turf has been struck making the divot. That can serve as an extemporaneous check on the lie angle. (Suggestion from Frank Tracey of Lakewood, CO.) My only concern about this technique is that, on a well-struck shot, the divot is taken after the ball has been struck and is on its way. There are lots of things in a swing that could make the position of the clubface different after impact than before. Quick example: a high rate-of-closure would mean that the face is more closed -- and probably toe-down -- than it was at impact.