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Sharpie Test: Easy Way to Check Your Lie Angles

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mvmac

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While it's always a great idea to spend some time with a qualified fitter, there are a couple things you can do on your own to see if your irons are properly fit for you. Recent feedback I've gotten from several fitting experts is that the technique of drawing a sharpie line on the back of a ball is better for dynamic lie fitting than using a lie board. The sharpie test is simple and allows you to hit balls off grass. The lie board with tape on the sole is obviously a popular method but the board is raised off the ground and the surface is different than grass. These differences can influence the club at impact and your swing. The lie board can encourage some players to sweep the ball while some players have a tendency to hit more down than normal, so it can be tough to get accurate and clean readings. Big reason why I like and wanted to share info on the sharpie test, I think it's best if you can accurately represent what will happen on the golf course.

Here's how to go about performing the sharpie test. Draw a heavy vertical line on one side of the golf ball with sharpie and place it facing the club head. After impact, the line should be transferred onto the club face.

lie_angle_1.thumb.jpg.a1a08b776cf6e73999

If the line is perfectly vertical your lie angle is good to go (right pic). If the line is tilted out towards the toe of the club (left pic), your club is too upright and the lie angle needs to be flatter to get the line to vertical. Vice versa , if the sharpie line is tilted towards the heel your club, the lie angle is too flat and you would need to bend the club more upright. The test won't tell you exactly how much you need to adjust the clubs but it's a good start. 

lie_angle_2.thumb.jpg.c06b48816d380e41f8

For a static test, use a business card. Since it's static the test doesn't account for the fact that players are usually higher with the handle at impact, along with some shaft droop but it's something I recommend you do in combination with the sharpie test and getting your height/wrist-to-floor measurements. For this lie angle check, take your address position on a hard surface with the handle at a proper height; butt of the club pointing at or somewhere between the belly button and top of your zipper. Have someone slide a business card under the sole of the club. If the lie angle is correct, it should stop the where the one end of the card is at the center of the club (pic below). If the business card reaches the heel, the club might be too upright, too flat if the card doesn't slide to the middle of the face. 

IMG_5952.thumb.JPG.e68f6a4ed9893aec53595

 

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I went to a callaway demo day a few years ago and the guys there used a sharpie and an impact tape that had a protractor drawn on it. They would draw a sharpie line on the ball and see how it looked on the impact tape. They said that better players didn't like hitting off a lie board because they would subconsciously try to miss it. 

 

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Nice tip. Does dry erase work as well or strictly sharpie?

Not sure, only seen it done with a sharpie but I'm sure there's a bunch of stuff you can use.

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This method is how I was fitted for my AP2's last week. Was surprised since my last fitting 7 years ago I was 1* upright but now that my clubs will be 1/4" shorter, I was standard lie. 

IMG_3780.jpg

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I was a club fitter at Dicks Sporting Goods for a little over a year before returning to coaching.  This is one of the ways I used to fit customers for lie angle. Ball flight is the second best.  I used a wider chisel tip sharpie.  Sometimes I would also use a line drawing aide that you put the ball into to ensure that the line was straight.  Lie boards are unreliable for the simple fact that the club head will skip or skid and straighten out at impact.  On grass is definitely better.  You also have to remember that golf clubs are longer now than they were 20 years ago, primarily to "prevent" slicing ( I believe the theory was that since most people slice, if a club is slightly longer, thus more upright, the heel contacts first and "closes" the club face). 

Edited by Headcoach

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On 5/31/2018 at 9:56 AM, Headcoach said:

I was a club fitter at Dicks Sporting Goods for a little over a year before returning to coaching.  This is one of the ways I used to fit customers for lie angle. Ball flight is the second best.  I used a wider chisel tip sharpie.  Sometimes I would also use a line drawing aide that you put the ball into to ensure that the line was straight.  Lie boards are unreliable for the simple fact that the club head will skip or skid and straighten out at impact.  On grass is definitely better.  You also have to remember that golf clubs are longer now than they were 20 years ago, primarily to "prevent" slicing ( I believe the theory was that since most people slice, if a club is slightly longer, thus more upright, the heel contacts first and "closes" the club face). 

A longer club plays flatter, and thus the face points slightly to the left, just like it does when the ball is above your feet a little bit.

The heel shouldn't be hitting the ground until after the ball is struck.

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This is one of those old school ideas that still works. Believe it or not, some fitters, in the 1980s, used a crayon to do the same thing. 

I use the sharpie idea to see where I am impacting the ball on the club face. 

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I did this the other day at a club demo day with Callaway at our range.  Everything about my swing is standard.  The sharpie mark was vertical.  However, I still hit everything a little towards the heal and not in the center of the club, as you can see in the picture ( I need to buy new clubs, not sure I have much grooves anymore on this 7-iron :whistle:).  

1441043851_7iron.thumb.jpg.4b7a5e33c42d737333d1bed7764652bf.jpg

Edited by jsgolfer

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On 6/12/2018 at 8:14 AM, jsgolfer said:

I did this the other day at a club demo day with Callaway at our range.  Everything about my swing is standard.  The sharpie mark was vertical.  However, I still hit everything a little towards the heal and not in the center of the club, as you can see in the picture ( I need to buy new clubs, not sure I have much grooves anymore on this 7-iron :whistle:).  

1441043851_7iron.thumb.jpg.4b7a5e33c42d737333d1bed7764652bf.jpg

I believe, depending on the configuration of the clubhead, and especially with the shorter irons, the sweet spot is actually slightly towards the heel and not directly in the visual center of the face.

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1 hour ago, colin007 said:

I believe, depending on the configuration of the clubhead, and especially with the shorter irons, the sweet spot is actually slightly towards the heel and not directly in the visual center of the face.

Oh sure, just tempt me to shank it.

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2 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

Oh sure, just tempt me to shank it.

Lol lol lol

Well, it would be a "better player's" shank, understanding that the sweet spot is slightly inside, and also coming from the inside could introduce the hosel coming into play....

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Quote

If the line is perfectly vertical your lie angle is good to go (right pic). If the line is tilted out towards the toe of the club (left pic), your club is too upright and the lie angle needs to be flatter to get the line to vertical. Vice versa , if the sharpie line is tilted towards the heel your club, the lie angle is too flat and you would need to bend the club more upright.

Hi, 

I am new to the game and trying to grasp as much as I can. I wonder how this relates to lie angle numbers. For example. If I am hitting 7 iron at 62 degrees and the sharpie line is tilted toward the heel meaning I need more upright setup, would the adjustment to my club be toward higher degree number, 63, 64 degrees?

Thanks

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I read about the sharpie method last week in a Tom Wishon article - it's great to see it in practice. 

On 9/18/2018 at 12:04 PM, MauiMilan said:

Hi, 

I am new to the game and trying to grasp as much as I can. I wonder how this relates to lie angle numbers. For example. If I am hitting 7 iron at 62 degrees and the sharpie line is tilted toward the heel meaning I need more upright setup, would the adjustment to my club be toward higher degree number, 63, 64 degrees?

Thanks

Yes, if the line is consistently pointing to the heel, then you'd bend towards a higher degree depending on the, I guess, the amount of tilt.

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How do you change the lie angle on clubs that are not forged?  I always thought you were not able to do this.  

Edited by SemperFi

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8 minutes ago, SemperFi said:

How do you change the lie angle on clubs that are not forged?  I always thought you were not able to do this.  

The same way you change them on a forged club. You bend them.

Some older cast clubs just are a little more brittle, so bending them more than 2-3° is unadvisable, IIRC.

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