How is the Lie and Length of a Golf Club Interrelated?

As mentioned in the How is the Lie of a Golf Club Measured?” article we stated that the lie of a golf club is closely tied together with how the length of a golf club is measured and one can’t usually be mentioned without the other. To help understand this concept better, let’s examine different sets of golf irons that are all of the same length (that is each set has the same length for each numbered iron).

In a set of irons, golf clubs have a progression of lengths that vary in ½” increments per club.Setup Sometimes the sand wedge (SW) might be shorter than the pitching wedge (PW), but in our model we will keep them the same to simplify matters. This is the customary way golf clubs have been manufactured and sold for a very long time. This does not necessarily mean this is correct for all golfers rather we want to show what you may encounter in a typical set.

The diagram on the right shows the “Triangle” formed by the length of the golf club (A), distance in the vertical direction from the butt end of the grip to the ground (B) and the horizontal distance from the back edge of the heel of the club to butt end of the club (C). In the following charts, the lie angle of each club will be listed as well.

Up until recently the golf club lie angle also had a normal progression from one iron to the next in the set in which a majority of all manufacturers adopted. The difference was 1° per club number, with the lie becoming more upright (higher degree) as the club became ½” shorter. Using this formula, the set of irons would have dimensions throughout the set as follows assuming that the club returned as designed with the center of the sole making contact with the ground.

½” Length and 1° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 58° 33.07” 20.67”
4 38.5” 59° 33.00” 19.83”
5 38” 60° 32.91” 19.00”
6 37.5” 61° 32.80” 18.18”
7 37” 62° 32.67” 17.37”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 64° 32.36” 15.78”
PW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00”
SW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00”
Difference 3.5″ 0.9 5.67″

As you can see from the chart, there is a change not only in the height of the butt end off of the ground, but also on how far away the heel varies from the butt end of the grip. Realize that this only accounts for only 9 clubs in the set and would be much further separation if the driver, fairways and putter were included. But what is considered a matched set with these specifications of length and lie, the player’s wrists will change in height nearly 1” vertically and move horizontally from the ball greater than 5 ½”.

Earlier this decade, certain manufacturers started deviating from this formula and started compressing the lie angles throughout the set. The concept was most golfers didn’t struggle necessarily with their short irons, so retain those same golf lie angles. However, golfers did struggle with hitting the ball right of the intended target line (for a right-handed golfer) so by making the lies more upright in these irons the ball was less likely to go as far right. Let’s examine how this impacts the position of the golfer using the same ½” length increments, but by using 0.5° increments.

½” Length and 1/2° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 60.5° 33.94” 19.20”
4 38.5” 61° 33.67” 18.67”
5 38” 61.5° 33.40” 18.13”
6 37.5” 62° 33.11” 17.61”
7 37” 62.5° 32.82” 17.08”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 63.5° 32.22” 16.06”
PW 35.5” 64° 31.91” 15.56”
SW 35.5” 64° 31.91” 15.56”
Difference 3.5″ 3.5° 2.03 3.64″

In this particular set with the length and lies presented and to have the club returned as designed with the center of the sole making contact with the ground then the vertical position of the hands would have a greater range – in this case approximately 2” higher with their #3-iron than the wedges. This is somewhat offset by the fact that the golfer can stand closer to the ball on the longer clubs. But this will require the golfer to change their spine and arm angles as compared to the set with the same length but produced in 1° lie increments.

While 1/2° lie progression is becoming more of a trend in game-improvement sets, some manufacturers are opting to an intermediary lie progression of 3/4° per club. This set would look something like the following with all else being the same.

½” Length and 3/4° Lie Progressions

Club A Lie B C
3 39” 59.25° 33.52” 19.94”
4 38.5” 60° 33.34” 19.25”
5 38” 60.75° 33.15” 18.57”
6 37.5” 61.5° 32.96” 17.89”
7 37” 62.25° 32.74” 17.23”
8 36.5” 63° 32.52” 16.57”
9 36” 63.75° 32.29” 15.92”
PW 35.5” 64.5° 32.04” 15.28”
SW 35.5” 64.5° 32.04” 15.28”
Difference 3.5″ 5.25° 1.48 4.66″

Which is the correct combination? It is impossible to say. The golfer through repeated practice becomes familiar with just how far to stand away from the ball with each club as well as the posture required putting themselves in that particular position. Although some golfers may feel more comfortable with one of these sets up better than the others. It should be noted that irons designed for better players will typically have a greater spread in the lie angles than those designs geared more specifically for higher handicapped golfers.

The biggest problem arises when there is not a continuous progression from one club to the next in the set. In the manufacturing process there are certain tolerances that have to be accepted, otherwise manufacturing costs can skyrocket. In the majority of cases for both name brand manufacturers and quality component distributors, the foundries adhere to a +/-1° tolerance for their lie angles. Length is less likely to vary as much as in years gone by as manufacturers have put stricter guidelines in place for consistency in hosel length, insertion depth (how far the shaft goes in the hosel) and measuring techniques for both length and for cutting the shafts (using jigs or fixtures). Even so, there may be some slight tolerance such as +/- 1/8”.

½” Length and 3/4° Lie Progressions

Allowing +/-1° Lie Tolerances

Club A Lie B C Tolerance
3 39” 60° 33.77” 19.50” 0.75° Upright
4 38.5” 60° 33.34” 19.25” None
5 38” 61.5° 33.40” 18.13” 0.75° Upright
6 37.5” 61° 32.80” 18.18” 0.5° Flat
7 37” 62.5° 32.82” 17.08” 0.25° Upright
8 36.5” 62.5° 32.38” 16.85” 0.5° Flat
9 36” 64° 32.36” 15.78” 0.25° Upright
PW 35.5” 65° 32.17” 15.00” 0.5° Upright
SW 35.5” 63.5° 31.77” 15.84” 1° Flat
Difference 3.5″ 2.00 4.50″

In the set above, all of these clubs would be within tolerance of their stated specification and indicative of what you may be playing. You might also find that one or more club in your current set you don’t hit as well as others. It may be simply be a problem that the lie of the club(s) is not correctly for you, in which most irons can be altered by a local clubmaking shop who has a loft and lie machine and skilled to perform the services for you. If not adjusted, then it requires the golfer to adjust their posture and to compensate for the maladjusted lie.

Hopefully you have gained an understanding of the different components of length. Even though a #5-iron may be 38”, does not mean that the distance of how high your wrists need to be above the ground or the distance the ball is away from you will be the same. The explanation for this is lies in the lie angle of the golf clubhead.

7 comments

  1. […] As mentioned in the “How is the Lie of a Golf Club Measured?” article we stated that the lie of a golf club is closely tied together with how the length of a golf club is measured and one can’t usually be mentioned without the other. To help understand this concept better, let’s examine different sets of golf irons that are all of the same length (that is each set has the same length …continued […]

  2. Don Garlow says:

    Hello, Jeff;
    Good explanation. But, is there any validity or benefit to the player in having the player hit every club off the lie board and then adjusting each club to hit center of the sole? It would seem that this method would provide more accuracy than a fixed interval method considering that there are different methods these days. In doing so, I have found that there may be no uniform sequential progression from club to club. Let me know, please.

    Hope all is well, old friend.

    Don @ Keystone Clubsmith Golf Performance Center, LLC

  3. Jeff Summitt says:

    Don:

    I don’t know I would go as far as have the player hit every club off of the lie board. Perhaps go with a long, mid and short iron and watch the ball flight. Then you could connect the dots so to speak with the lie angles you determined on those to provide a uniform transition from one club to the next in the set. There may be times when the lies may not be uniform for a particular golfer, yet they hit the ball at their intended target line. They may be gifted enough to adjust visually to the club and have the hand and eye coordination to make the ball go where they want. The main thing we are worried about is results.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Summitt
    Hireko Golf

  4. Ian Seaders says:

    Jeff:
    Could you explain why there is such a difference in the B length within a set? Shouldn’t this length be about the same throughout the set to maintain a consistent swing? Why not just change the lie and shaft length and keep the hands in a consistent position at address?
    Thank you for your great article.
    Ian

  5. Jeff Summitt says:

    Ian:

    I guess it is because we adopted the English system when building clubs. That is clubs would vary in 1/2″ length and 1* lie increments. Why? Simplicity. For the sake of example, it could have very well been 0.44″ and 0.8* increments, but would have been hard to measure without some sort of template. The 1/2″ increments has been a staple for a while, but now we see lie changes in 3/4″* and 1/2* intervals as well. These naturally change the B dimension as well as the C dimension (as shown in the tables). It is possible to alter these so the B length is constant, but then you would end up with different swingweights, unless the head weight were designed specifically for the unique lengths.

  6. Jon says:

    Why do the clubs get longer at all ?

  7. Jeff Summitt says:

    Jon,

    By making the clubs longer (or shorter) controls the length of your swing arc and subsequently your swing speed. The length along with the loft help control your distances.

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