Loft and lie buyers' guide

Thomas Tanner
Aug 06, 2009
6 minutes
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Although golf clubs are lumps of metal on a shaft, every millimetre of the clubhead is sculpted to the tightest of manufacturing tolerance to make sure they perform as expected, when required.

Two of the major influences on how you golf ball launches, flies, and spins are the loft and lie angle. These terms can be challenging to get your head around (primarily lie angle) but a fundamental understanding of how they change the dynamics of golf can be advantageous.

What is loft?

The loft of a golf club is the angle created between the clubface and the ground - and will be different for every club in your bag.

The loft will have a direct impact on the distance the ball travels - the lower the loft, the further the ball will go. Your driver will have about 10-degrees of loft and will hit the ball the furthest. Your wedges, on the other hand, could have as much as 60-degrees of loft and will hit the ball the highest, but not very far.

All the other clubs in your bag will fill the 50-degree gap between these clubs, ideally in even gaps to make sure you have a club to hit any distance you need.

It's worth noting that not all golf clubs have the loft on them, some (mainly irons) only have a number or letter on them. To make things more complicated, a 7-iron from a set of Callaway irons is not necessarily the same as one from a set of TaylorMade irons. The table below demonstrated this.

It's good to know what loft your lowest iron is so you can gap your wedges accordingly.

One final thing to be aware of is that the lofts can change over time. Repeatedly hitting anything into the ground (especially a range mat) is going to change the properties of the object. It's, therefore, a good idea to get your lofts checked every year. If a couple of irons are only a few degrees out, you'll quickly discover you're not hitting the ball the right distance, even though you're striking it perfectly.

Your local PGA Professional will be able to do this in a few minutes and bend them back to where they were designed to be, should they be out.

What is lie angle?

It's with lie angle that things get a little more complicated, but in lay man's terms, it is the angle created between the shaft and the ground. It is important because a lie angle that's too flat or upright will cause the wrong part of the clubhead (toe or heel) to come into contact with the ground first.

If the lie angle on your clubs is correct for how you stand at address, then the centre of the sole will be touching the turf and the groves parallel to the ground resulting in a straight shot. If the lie angle is out, the heel or toe (depending on if it is upright or flat) will act as a pivot and throw the clubface off the intended line.

If the lie angle is too upright, the heel will tend to dig in and flip the toe over, closing the face and sending the ball to the left, for a right-handed golfer. If the clubs are too flat the opposite is true - the toe will dig in pushing the heel forwards, opening the face and sending the ball to the right for a right-handed golfer.

As a rule, shorter golfers will generally benefit from slightly flatter lies; taller golfers may need more upright clubs. If you want to check quickly have someone take a photo of your clubface when you're naturally over the ball. If the grooves are level then the clubs suit your stance, if they pointing up (from heel to toe) then you might need flatter clubs, if the point down (heel to toe) then you might need more upright.

You can also check with tape on the sole of your clubs. The tape will wear through where the sole impact the ground - and then the same as above applies.

If you find your clubs need their lie angle changing, most PGA Professionals will be able to do this in a few minutes using a particular bending vice.

Further reading

A set of irons is probably the most expensive single piece of golf kit you’ll buy – so best to get it right! Hundreds of different models, but which set of golf irons will be best for you? To help you narrow down the options, we’ve put together our guide to buying Irons.

Iron loft can be so confusing! The question ‘what did you hit there?’ asked to try and gauge what you should hit has almost become obsolete because lofts vary so much from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even in the models offered by the same manufacturer.