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Wishon: The best way to fit lie angle

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The higher the loft on the clubhead, the more critical it is to be dynamically fit for the correct lie angle. It is also important, however, to have the lie correctly fit for the fairway woods and hybrids to ensure solid impact consistency.

For the driver, lie angle is less of an accuracy issue due to its lower loft, but if the toe of the driver is severely up in the air in the address position — due to how the length chosen affects the set up of the lie for the golfer — the driver lie should definitely be fit to the golfer if for no other reason than confidence and psychological reasons.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 10.54.25 AM

Recent studies and observations have shown that the technique where an ink line is drawn on the back of the ball is better for dynamic lie fitting than using a lie board with tape on the sole of the iron. Plus the ink-line technique can also be done while hitting shots from normal mown grass lies so as to avoid having to hit the club down into a hard surface lie board, a practice which does bother some golfers and cause them to possibly swing differently than they do when hitting shots off grass.

The ink line on the back of the ball technique for dynamic lie fitting is simple and logical. A heavy ink line is drawn on the ball with a Sharpie pen. The ball is placed on the ground with the line vertical and facing the clubhead. After impact, a faint image of the ink line is transferred to the clubface. If the line is perfectly vertical on the clubface, the lie of the club is correct for the golfer. If the ink line tilts in an angle up toward the toe side of the face, the lie of the club that was hit is too upright so the correct lie has to be flatter than the lie of the club being hit. Vice versa — if the ink line angles up toward the heel side of the face, the correct lie has to be more upright than the lie of the test club.

In the near future, kits for this technique of dynamic lie fitting will become available that will include face labels with graduated lines to make the determination of the correct lie much easier and more definitive.

For the highest level of accuracy, dynamic lie fitting should be done as the last procedure in the fitting, using a test club(s) that possess every one of the golfer’s determined fitting specs for the clubhead model, length, shaft, swing weight (MOI) and grip size. In lieu of this, a test club for proper dynamic lie evaluation should at least have the length, shaft and swing weight that is found best for the golfer.

In an ideal world, the dynamic lie test should be done with each one of the golfer’s clubs. Obviously, this will take a good bit more time to do. As such, if time becomes an issue, it is OK to perform the dynamic lie test with every other club or even every third club, with the lies of the in-between irons calculated from the actual dynamic lies determined by each test club.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Lee

    May 20, 2016 at 4:46 am

    TOM –

    “We’re working on that in terms of a face label with gradation lines printed on the label in degree increments so you could put the label on the face, hit the ball with the vertical ink line, see the transfer of the line to the label and then know the lie change based on which degree line on the label is parallel to the ink line.”

    Just wondering if these are available to the market yet? I could use some for testing the lie of my new Wishon 771 irons! Hit the course today with some fairly inconsistent results, and felt I was getting a number of toe/ground hits in spite of my custom fitting by a top professional club-fitter. We did the final fitting off of a black board, not the method you describe here.

  2. gerry caradonna

    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Anyone know of a good club fitter in palm beach FL. to get my loft and lie angle checked i went to Dicks sporting goods seems like they just dont have the time or dont care just try to rush you

  3. Phil

    Jul 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I have the utmost respect for Tom and true gratitude for sharing his sage knowledge here. As a golfer who recently purchased some club building / adjusting equipment out of frustration with big box golf store workmanship (hard to blame them with the prices they offer & volume they must process daily) I was pleased to read this article. Since day one of becoming a golfer it was clear to me that hitting off a lie board was not a quality fit and this has always stuck in the back of my mind. The board sits above the stance for one, the golfer is adjusting the swing to ‘pick the ball’, they can easily hit it slightly fat deflect head first and slide that angle into the ball etc. etc. Hitting off grass into a marked ball is such a simple solution – the only way to go.
    That said…. and I know the focus is on strictly on fitting here… The vast majority of golfers often have too upright a swing to begin with and end up on their toes displaying less than great leg/foot work – again, I know this is an issue the fitter is not responsible for. Still, having either standard or purposely flat lies teaches / requires more engagement of the lower body and foot work for these golfers to achieve a desired ball flight. It wouldn’t be outside the club builders / fitters arena to recommend, fit, build a couple of ‘practice clubs’ designed for this intent. It also wouldn’t be wrong if the fitter, seeing egregious ott etc. issues, offers the golfer the option to shave a degree with the understanding that golfer is taking lessons. Just my 2 cents, maybe I’m missing some points, regardless I’m really glad to learn about this fitting technique – Thanks!

  4. Pingback: A Visual Effect of Lie Angle • Green Lantern Golf

  5. Dave

    Feb 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Tom,
    This posting just came in to me and I can say it is timely. I fit a player today in the Weathers Facility here at IU using the sharpie method. He came to me asking about the differences between the lie board and the sharpie method. I had previously fit a pair of Vokey wedges to 2*upright which is what his swing calls for. After the fitting of all the clubs we found that most of the special order clubs were -1.5* from his needed specs. Bending them upright put his swing plane and impact right on spec for him. I suspect that I could have used the lie board and gotten to the same place with this player, but the line on the face of the irons and the change from perpendicular to the score lines, was easy enough for him to see and be convinced of the need for a change.

  6. Mat

    Feb 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Just a sidenote – some manufacturers go 0.5º between irons, and others 0.75º. Thus, one brand to another can cause a degree difference at the longest and shortest irons…

  7. Dave S

    Jan 29, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Edit: I know i can get them adjusted for pretty cheap at a local Golfsmith ($5 per club), but that would require me to know exactly how to bend them. I guess what I’m really asking is whether there’s a cheap way to have my dynamic lie tested?

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      In all honesty, to get this done right so you have no doubt, you need to find a good, experienced clubmaker in your area who can both do the dynamic lie fitting test to tell him exactly how much to bend each iron so it is right for your swing, and then to do the bends as determined. You can try to ask the person at GS if they also can put you through a dynamic lie fitting test, if they know how to do that and could do that for you. I don’t know if retail stores like this can do that or would do it.

      To find a good clubmaker, I would advise you head to the websites of the AGCP (Association of Golf Clubfitting Professionals) and the ICG (International Clubmakers’ Guild) and use their search tools to see if there is a clubmaker in reasonable proximity to your location. Google them and you’ll find their sites and on their sites you can find their locator search tool. The bending is only half of the task – you need someone competent in conducting a proper dynamic lie fitting test which tells how much each of your irons needs to be bent to fit you.

    • Nick

      Jan 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      Dave – Golfsmith does an above average job of training its fitters and techs. While a certified club builder is preferable, they should be able to do a good job for you.

      I recommend printing out the specs of your irons and measuring the lie angle of the clubs you’re testing to get the best results. You need to establish a base line because clubs are not always built exactly to spec and/or lie angles can change a bit over time with use.

  8. Dave S

    Jan 29, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Is there a way to get the lie adjusted on my irons for relatively cheap?

  9. Erich

    Jan 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I swing a few degrees left so I need some toe down or I will pull the ball to the left. Your lie needs to start the ball on your target line, it doesn’t have to be perfect by robot standards. In the wedges if they are fit for my full swing then I will definitely pull my wedges since I play 2* upright. I must play flatter wedges so I don’t pull pitches and dig the heel in on short shots since my hands aren’t as high at impact. His information is great but nothing new.

  10. Ryan

    Jan 28, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Tom,
    I was just wondering why the lie angle should be the last thing checked in a fitting. I was taught that checking for lie angle was one of the first things that you do and I’ve done all my fittings that way. I have always used the dry erase marker method and I double check the angle at the end of each fitting. I made the assumption that once you found a lie angle that worked, you had a pretty good idea what lie angle to try on all the clubs.I was just hoping you could shed some light as to why you do it last. Thanks!

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 29, 2015 at 10:37 am

      RYAN

      We recommend doing the lie test and final lie adjustment after everything else is determined in the fitting because that way it takes everything into account that could affect the dynamic lie results in the lie fitting. Shaft droop – if you are being lie tested with the right fit club for you, it then takes the flex/bend profile, headweight effect on shaft bending, length effect on shaft bending all into account to reveal what your best lie will be for YOUR custom fit clubs. If you test with a club that has a different shaft flex/bend profile, length, headweight then the results you see could be different than the results you would see with the golfer’s final fit clubs. Do understand we are talking smaller details here but doing it this way just to be 100% sure the dynamic lie is as accurate as it can be for the golfer with his final fit in the clubs. Usually if you do your dynamic lie test with an iron that is of the same length and close enough in shaft and swingweight, that will typically be good enough.

  11. Jeff

    Jan 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    So bored with this guy.

    • Golfrnut

      Jan 28, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Guys around here are probably much more tired of the trolling comments from people like yourself than getting useful information from people like Tom. When you have something to bring to the table, then speak, otherwise you can just climb back down in the hole that you came from.

    • JC

      Jan 28, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      I know right. Darn him for taking time out of his day to write articles that could help people play better golf! SMH

  12. Mark

    Jan 28, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Is there a “rule of thumb” regarding how far the lie angle needs to be adjusted based on how far from vertical the line on the club face diverges? Is it a 1:1 relationship? (1 degree off from vertical means that you will have to adjust the club 1 degree).

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 29, 2015 at 10:45 am

      MARK:

      We’re working on that in terms of a face label with gradation lines printed on the label in degree increments so you could put the label on the face, hit the ball with the vertical ink line, see the transfer of the line to the label and then know the lie change based on which degree line on the label is parallel to the ink line. It’s simple geometry and really, one could do this with a protractor on the face to get pretty close because it is a 1:1 relationship in degrees off vertical on the face. But the labels will make it easier to do (as long as you get the label on the face correctly !!! – HA, there’s always a kicker, right?!!)

      Be aware that by no means is this ink line method ours or anyone’s current discovery. It was first brought out by a very nice man and pioneer in repair and clubmaking by the name of Bud Blankenship for his former company in the 80s/90s called GolfTek in Idaho. Bud passed away unfortunately some years ago and never got the credit he deserved for some of the innovative things he contributed to the earlier days of clubfitting. He was a good friend of many in the industry from back then and it is right to give credit where credit is due on this.

  13. Albatross85

    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Dry erase marker works best and leaves nothing permanent

  14. Nick

    Jan 28, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I have been using the sharpie method in my fittings for several years. My only caution is that you must be extra careful to get the line on the ball as close to vertical as possible – otherwise your results will be inaccurate of inconsistent.

    Lie angle does play a role in where we strike the ball on the face. As a general rule for irons, flattening the lie will move impact to the toe and bending the club more upright will move impact to the heel. In my experience, however, golfers have more success when the lie angle is adjusted to optimize turf interaction and other specs (shaft length, swing weight, stiffness, etc.) are adjusted to promote center face contact.

  15. 50jay

    Jan 28, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Great Article!

    I have a question for Tom:

    My last lie fitting was done on a lie board and the result was 2*UP. I had them bent back then. Even though the lies are still 2*UP, my natural tendency would be to hit them on the toe side of the blade. When I had them checked again with a lie board it indicated me that I needed even more upright clubs.

    Could it be that the lie board is giving me the wrong answer and that my lies are in fact too upright for me considering my clubs are at the proper length? I just want to understand the logic behind all of this.

    Thank you Tom, your input is greatly appreciated on this site!

    (I will perform the ink test as soon as possible.)

    • Kelly

      Jan 28, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      This is similar to my fittings. One of my swing flaws is that I will come in with high hands. In addition to high hands I have a swing speed on the higher side. Using a lie board I’be been fit or maroon dot Pings before. I’ve also been fit for a very tip stiff shaft with very upright clubs before. Truthfully I was never comfortable with these clubs from a looks and shaft flex standpoint. I decided that I would rather feel better about the other factors than be to concerned about what the lie board showed. I do plan on trying the ink line as a test.

      Thanks to Tom for another informative article.

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 29, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      50jay
      What you report is precisely why the astute fitters are switching away from lie boards to use the ink line method. Somewhere on YOU TUBE is a slo mo video that captures exactly the weird anomaly that can cause a lie board test to result in an errant toe side impact on the sole. Fascinating video. It shows that right when the face hits the ball before the sole touches the board/ground, the reaction of the head right at impact is to cause the toe to tilt down more, which is what puts the toe end of the sole on the board. So my bet is that’s what’s happening with your more upright readings. You will know for sure if you do the ink line test.

  16. Mike

    Jan 28, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Great stuff Tom! Is there any correlation between heel/toe contact and lie angle? Thanks!

    • Tom Wishon

      Jan 29, 2015 at 10:56 am

      MIKE
      Not 100% sure what you are asking for sure but it is true that if sole contact is on the heel or toe side, then for sure this is a basic indicator that whatever the lies of your irons are now is not what they need to be to allow the sole to travel level to the ground through impact. The old way of dynamic lie fitting involving the lie board would always teach that for each 1/4″ that the center of the sole impact mark with the lie board was off from the very center of the sole, that represented a 1* change. So for example if the average/consistent center of the sole rub mark was 1/1″ on the heel side of face center, that indicated a 2* flatter lie bend to the iron and vice versa for upright if the center of the sole rub mark was 1/2″ toward the toe side of sole center. Hope this hit what you were asking about.

  17. Bb

    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Great article . Bad clubs , over priced

    Clubs have no meat to them

  18. Ted

    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I’ve did this type of lie angle testing after reading about Tom’s method. It works, its easy, and can be done for the price of a Sharpie.

  19. Max

    Jan 28, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Tom posted this info in one of the forums a few years ago and I tried it and found my irons were too upright. So easy to test and I no longer hook my short irons now that the lies have been adjusted accordingly. Definitely try this if you hook your short irons or hit them left a lot.

    • Awedge333

      Jan 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      OK, my long clubs trend right – shout clubs trend left. 7-8 irons go straight…..

      What does this mean???

      • Awedge333

        Jan 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

        Sorry, short not shout….. that only comes after impact!

      • Tom Wishon

        Jan 29, 2015 at 10:52 am

        AWedge
        This could be a situation in which you come into impact in a little different posture/spine angle/hands position with each of the different segments of your iron set. That’s pretty common because the lengths and total weights of our irons are all different from each other so with some golfers it very much can affect their position at impact which then affects the lie position of the clubhead through impact. How to resolve this is to do the dynamic lie test with each and every one of the clubs, and not to do it as most do which is to dyn lie test one iron only and then extrapolate all the other lies in 1* increments from that one test iron.

        Clubfitters who do an every club lie test almost always find that when it is all done and they look at the actual final lie measurements for every iron, the lies won’t go in a nice 1* increment from club to club. Yes, this takes a lot longer to do. But in a case such as what you describe in your irons, it becomes the best way to try to resolve what you are seeing.

        If after doing this you still find right/left results with different segments of the set then the place to investigate will be, 1) are the lengths absolutely right for you, your height/wrist to floor, your tempo/transition, ability, 2) are the swingweights and total weights of the irons right for you and your tempo/transition, sense of feel for your timing and rhythm in the swing.

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On Spec

On Spec Special Edition: Houston Open winner Lanto Griffin talks equipment

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In this special edition of On Spec, Ryan has the chance to interview recent PGA Tour winner Lanto Griffin. Lanto talks about what it’s like to stand over an event winning putt, finding the right wedges, and how testing gear sometimes happens right out of another player’s bag.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The “70% Rule” is still the winning formula on the PGA Tour

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In June of 2010, a year before the Tour launched Strokes Gained Putting analysis, I published an article on my blog (www.NiblicksOfTruth.blogspot.com): “PGA Tour Winner’s – 70% Rule.”

I had been studying the winners of each tour event for years and realized that they all had specific success in three simple stats–and that the three stats must add up to 70 percent

  1. Greens in Regulation – 70%
  2. Scrambling – 70%
  3. 1-Putts from 5 to 10 feet – 70%

Not every one of the three had to equal 70 percent, but the simple addition of the three needed to equal or exceed 70 percent.  For example, if GIR’s were 68 percent, then scrambling or putting needed to be 72 percent or higher to offset the GIR deficiency—simple and it worked!

I added an important caveat. The player could have no more than three ERRORS in a four-round event. These errors being

  1. Long game: A drive hit out of play requiring an advancement to return to normal play, or a drive or approach penalty.
  2. Short game: A short game shot that a.) missed the putting surface, and b.) took 4 or more total strokes to hole out.
  3. Putting: A 3-putt or worse from 40 feet or closer.

In his recent win in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kevin Na broke the rule… by a bit.  He was all good on the 70 percent part of the rule

  1. GIR’s: 75 percent
  2. Scrambling: 72 percent
  3. 1-Putts 5-10 ft.: 73 percent

But not so good on the three-error limit

  1. Long game: Two driving errors and one approach penalty (three errors).
  2. Short game: A chip/pitch shot that missed the green and took FIVE strokes to hole out (one error).

No wonder it took a playoff to secure his win! But there was another stat that made the difference…

The stat that piqued my interest in Kevin’s win was connected to my 70 percent Rule.  It was his strokes gained: putting stat: +3.54, or ranked first.  He gained 3.5 strokes on the field in each of his four rounds or 14 strokes. I have never seen that, and it caused me to look closer. For perspective, I ran the putting performance of all of the event winners in the 2019 Tour season. Their average putting strokes gained was +1.17.

Below, I charted the one-putt percentages by distance range separately for Kevin Na, the 2019 winners, and the tour 2019 average. I have long believed that the 6–10 foot range separates the good putters on Tour from the rest as it is the most frequently faced of the “short putt” ranges and the Tour averages 50 percent makes. At the same time, the 11-20 foot ranges separate the winners each week as these tend to represent birdie putts on Tour. Look at what Kevin did there.

All I can say again, I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. Well done Kevin!

For the rest of us, in the chart below I have plotted Kevin’s performance against the “average” golfer (15-19 handicap). To see exactly how your game stacks up, visit my website.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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