Club Fitting for Loft and Lie Angles

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Editor's Note: Bruce Martin is a PGA Master Professional with the San Diego Golf Academy. SDGAs program offers a curriculum of golf instruction and golf business management at all four golf schools, and provides graduates with the education required to get the golf job they desire. You'll soon be teaching others how to improve their game! Click here to learn more about SDGA
 

We must keep in mind that we have the two most important tasks to consider in accomplishing lower scores = accomplishing the proper distance and direction. Lets take a journey into accomplishing better control of both with properly fit equipment.

Iron Lofts
 
The proper loft on your irons will accomplish the correct trajectory and distance control.
Most irons have a 4 degree difference between each club from the 5 iron through the sand wedge and around 2 to 3 degrees for the longer irons, this typically equates to a 10 yard gap between each club. If you are having trouble with controlling your distance on solidly struck balls, it may not be your swing!
 


 

History of iron lofts
 
1970s and earlier, most, if not all manufacturers followed a similar loft scenario. Enter the 1980s and 1990s, manufacturers starting strengthening their lofts from traditional. Tommy Armour introduced the 845 irons in this era, and they have since changed the modern loft standards that we currently play with. They were nice enough to stamp the loft above the scoring lines on the toe to let the consumer know what they were doing. Typically, what we are playing today is one club stronger than standard lofts. This is when the gap wedge became a necessity for many players. The sand wedge loft has remained the same at 55 to 56 degrees and the pitching wedge has strengthened to around 46 ' 48 degrees. Enter the necessity for the 52 degree gap wedge to cover the huge 8-10 degree yardage gap.
 
How can the manufacturers de-loft irons and not sacrifice a lower trajectory?
 
The answer will incorporate 3 modern technological advantages:
 
1)Lower centers of gravity in head design
2)Shafts that are lighter with lower kick points
3)Modern ball technology.
 

The best case scenario is to print out a copy of your loft and lie angles from the internet, and have an expert check them on a Mitchell loft and lie machine. From my experiences, testing thousands of students loft angles and comparing them to the manufacturer specification, less than 50 % were correct. Why is this, quality control, and the mass production of clubs that are produced overseas.
 
I would highly recommend that every Golf Channel viewer have their lofts measured. More than likely, your equipment will need to be bent to the proper lofts. See your local PGA Professional that is equipped with a Mitchell loft and lie machine.
 
Lie Angles
 
Having the proper lie angle will help every golfer with better direction. You could have a great swing with the proper path, but an improper lie angle will tilt the face away from the intended target. Direction is half of the battle, why not have your lie angles checked!
Have you ever looked down at your divot, and see that it is aimed left of the green, and the toe portion of the divot is very heavy. You are in need of a simple lie angle adjustment to be a better player.
 
Fundamentals of lie angles (Right Handed golfer):
 
If the club lands toe heavy, the heal will open causing shots to the right = slices
 
If the club lands heal heavy, the toe will close causing shots to the left = hooks
 
Not only will you sacrifice direction, but with the face plane tilting at impact, the ball will slide across the face causing problems with centeredness.
 
What determines your lie angle?
 
The player considerations:
 
Set-up = Knee flex, forward spine tilt, and preference in how high or low the handle is at address.
 
In 'swing = The players swing plane angle / path will determine his/her lie angle.
 

How to test your lie angles
 
1) Place a sole tape or black electrical tape on the sole of your club.
 
2) Hit a ball solidly off of a lie board
 
3) Measure how far the center of the sole impact impression is from the center of the scoring lines.
 
4) Have your lie angles bent 1 degree for every from the centerline
 
Considerations: Cast clubs are recommended to be bent at a maximum of 2 degrees. Forged clubs are softer a may be bent more. Consult your local PGA Professional for recommendations for adjusting your lie angles.