Why is the Lie Angle More Upright On a Game-Improvement Set of Irons?

How Lie Angle Effects Your Ball Flight

One question that I have been asked is “Why the lie angle on sets of irons that arelie 1 designed for mid and higher handicapped golfers are generally more upright than those sets designed for better golfers?” A common answer you might hear is a more upright lie angle will reduce the likelihood of a golfer pushing the ball in relationship to the target line. The common tendency for higher handicapped golfers is for them to push or slice the ball. So there may be some merit to this answer, but perhaps there is a different and more technically correct explanation as to why the lie angle is selectively varied by the manufacturer depending upon clubhead style.

The length of the club is measured with the club in the playing position along the back side of the clubs from the edge of the grip cap to the ground. However the distance you stand from the ball is a completely different measurement (see Diagram 1) and will vary depending upon the blade length of the club. After all, it is the position of the ball we are most concerned with not the back edge of the club’s heel.

To illustrate this point, examine Diagram 2. The iron outlined in orange is a blade-style iron that has a blade length of 3” (76.2mm) and almost always a longer hosel. The best position to hit the ball is at the center of gravity (CG) of the head, which may or may not be in the center of the scoring lines. In this particular iron, it might not be uncommon for the CG to be 1” from the back edge of the heel.

Lie Angle2The iron outlined in black may be a game-improvement design with a longer blade length of 3.18” (81mm) and a slightly shorter hosel length. By extending the blade length the CG may be positioned further from the hosel. It may be 1.25” from the heel. So in order to hit the ball at the CG with the same length club as the smaller blade-style iron, essentially one would have to stand ¼” further away from the ball. Think about that statement for a minute. We assume that if we use two 38” #5-irons with a 60° lie, we should stand the same distance to the ball.

Let’s say your toes touch the vertical line on the right. The horizontal distance fromHybrid Ad the toes to the heel (H) is the cosine of the lie multiplied by the club length. In this case of a 38” 5-iron and 60° lie, then H is 19.00. But from the CG of the head to the toes it is 20.00” for the blade-style iron and 20.25” for the game-improvement iron. While ¼” doesn’t sound like much, it does represent miss-hitting the ball on the face using the same set up and stance. In order to compensate for standing further away, the lie should be 0.5° more upright and this would make up for the 1/4” difference so the person can stand the same distance to the ball.

The iron outlined in blue may be an ultra game-improvement design with an even longer blade length of 3.39” (86mm). The extended blade length may shift the CG even further from the hosel in the neighborhood of 1.50” from the heel. This would require the lie to be 0.5° more upright than the game-improvement design and a full 1° more upright than the blade-style iron to maintain the same distance from the golfer’s toes to the ball.

There is another factor to consider and that is the effect the longer blade length has on the shaft. As the weight of the head is further away from the shaft, the shaft will want to tend to want to flatten out more in the swing (see Diagram 3). How much? It may only be 1/4° per ¼” further the CG away from the heel as a result of the longer blade length and the shaft wanting to align itself to the CG of the head in the swing.

Shafts that are traditionally found in blade-style or irons generally compact from heel-to-toe have completely different shafts than game-improvement designs. For example, a True Temper Dynamic Gold shaft would be more prominent in a blade or compact cavity back iron. The stiffness of the shaft and the tip section are less likely to bow downward in the swing than a more flexible and softer tip shaft found in many game-improvement designs today. Therefore the lies may have to start slightly more upright to compensate for the downward bowing of the more flexible shaft in addition to factoring in the horizontal distance to the ball created by the longer blade length.

THireko Bookshe center of gravity of the head should dictate the initial lie angle of each iron should be. If these are not factored into, the person could end up playing a club with too flat a lie angle resulting into pushing the ball in relationship to the target line. This is really the reason why you see game-improvement irons designed with more upright lie angles than those clubs designed for better golfers.

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2 comments

  1. [...] may go according to Hoyle. The beauty of this driver is that it is adjustable for face angle and lie angle, yet everything else remains the same leaving out all the unwanted variables as possible.  [...]

  2. Andoy says:

    To compensate with a lie angle that’s too uprght is the wrong approach. The player regardless of handicap needs the correct angle that will allow a properly stuck shot to go straight.

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