Lie Comparison: How does Lie influence ball flight?
The lie is something that large club manufacturers prefer to ignore, or stamp as standard. One thing has to be made clear: the correct lie can only be determined in a professional fitting. For club manufacturers who are designed for producing large quantities it is difficult to provide heads with different lie. Therefore the opinion has been established that the lie is only for "exceptional" players, e.g. those who are 2.10m tall or who swing extremely flat, etc. All others would be best stamped as standard. End of story.
But it's the case that every player is individual and there is a wide range of Lies. But it's also the case that players can adapt to the lie at least a little bit. For example, they notice when the club is in neutral position and swing accordingly. So they change their swing to adapt to the lie. The other way around would make much more sense.
In this test we compared three different lies with the identical club head and shaft. A neutral, +2° up and -2° down. +2° means that the club is slightly more upright. This lie tends to be toe "up" and heel "down". At -2° the exact opposite is the case. The toe tends to be "down" and the heel "up".
Basic tendencies of the lie
Generally speaking, the +2° up is intended for big players and/or those who move the club on a very steep level. At -2° it is more for smaller players and/or those with a flat swing plane. Now it is natural that every player is different and some factors compensate or reinforce each other. For example, what do you do with a very large player with a flat swing plane? In such cases it is impossible to make sweeping statements and therefore one thing can be anticipated: finding the right lie is above all the job of a professional fitter.
Our test results
First of all the obvious: The dynamic lie that can be determined by GCQuad clearly shows how the actual lie affects the lie at the moment of impact. This is 0.5° up for the neutral lie, 1.4° up for +2° and 1.1° down for -2°. In an ideal world it would of course be 0°, 2° up and 2° down. However, it must also be said that our player naturally sees how the club is positioned on the ball and then adjusts himself minimally. This means that the lie does not fluctuate by 4° between the extreme variations but "only" by 2.5°. But even that is enough to see exactly what influence the lie has.
Now we come to the most important part: the dispersion. So which Lie produced the best results? Here we have an easy winner: the neutral lie. The +2° Lie tends to go too far to the left and the -2° tends to go to the right.
This result is anything but surprising. You just have to imagine where the club face tends to point when the club is upright compared to when it is flat. The following picture shows where the clubface is pointing with toe down:
The more loft the club has, the stronger this effect. This is why the lie is especially critical for wedges.
There is also an effect that can increase this tendency: the interaction with the turf. A club that does not reach the ball neutrally but digs deeper into the ground with either the toe or the heel opens or closes accordingly due to this resistance. For example, if Lie is too upright, the heel will first make contact with the ground and then offer more resistance. The clubface closes and the ball tends to move to the left.
Of course there are several factors that determine how strong this effect is. There are players with such late contact with the ground that the effect is negligible because the ball has already left the clubface before it can turn in any direction. The opposite is also possible, however, and early contact with the ground can have an even greater effect on the clubface.
Upright lie = left and flat lie = right
In Golf there are few general statements that can be made but this is one of the few laws of nature. If a player with a club that is too upright, the ball will tend to the left (for right-handed players). Conversely, if the lie is too flat, the ball will tend to go to the right. This is exactly what we saw very clearly in this little test.