Last week, JK and I had a talk about possible ways to help me improve my ability to hit greens in regulation.  At that time, I was hitting my irons crisply and to consistent distances, but was still having problems controlling trajectory.  This resulted in a lot of greens missed but with the ball pin high a few yards off-line.  My problem was becoming more pronounced in the windy conditions I typically face in Northern California.  After shooting a career round the previous Saturday, I sat down and evaluated my round.  Of the 8 greens I missed, 5 were missed left, two long, and two short.  The three misses to the right were with wedges, or were from the left rough.  My miss, clearly, is left.  On windy days, the little draw I have become accustomed turns into something between a hook and a duck hook.

JK suggested that, because my ballstriking with my short clubs needs to improve if I hope to keep shooting in the 70’s, I should take my clubs and have the lie angles checked.  For a little background, the lie angle is the angle formed between the ground and the club shaft when the club is properly soled:

Like most things in golf, a small change in equipment specifications can result in significant changes in shot shape and distance.  For example, changing a driver’s loft from 9.5 degrees to 10.5 degrees can significantly raise trajectory, increase carry, and decrease roll-out for a given player.  The total distance change may not be significant, but it may improve the golfer’s chances of clearing that forced carry their 9.5 degree driver was not making.  The changes to shot shape caused by flaws in lie angle are even more pronounced:

As shown, if the club is too “upright,” that is, the lie angle is such that the toe of the club is raised relative to the heel, the player will tend to miss left (left side of image).  This makes sense because if the heel of the club is lower than the toe, it will make contact with the ground before the toe, causing the head to close through impact.  If the club is too “flat,” that is, the heel of the club is raised relative to the toe, the player will tend to miss right (right side of image).  This also makes sense because if the toe makes contact with the ground before the heel, it will tend to be dragged behind the heel and push the ball to the right.  When the club is properly soled, it gives the golfer the best chance for making solid contact and hitting a straight shot.  Small differences can be huge.  For some reference, the total amount of variation in lie angle for any clubs is about 4 degrees flat to 4 degrees upright.

With all of this knowledge in mind, I decided to get the lie angles checked on my irons by a competent professional.  My first stop was a big box store in San Jose.  As is custom for fittings in such a store, the bottom of my club was taped up with tape that shows where contact was made with the ground.  A plastic lie board was setup with a ball, and I hit a series of shots to determine what part of the club was making contact with the ground.  So far, so good.  Once we had determined that the lie angles on my clubs were too upright for me, the “clubmaker” at this store took one look at the results from one club and said all of my clubs needed to be bent “at least one degree.”   The big box store also wanted to charge me $5.99 per club to have them bent.  I’d need to leave my clubs with them for a week as well to have this process performed.  If the clubs were not right when I got them back, I’d have to tell them what adjustment was necessary and wait another week.  Thanks, guys, but I’ll go somewhere else.

Enter Brian Razzari.  I called the Brad Lozares Golf Shop at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course on my way home from San Jose.  I should have called here first because I was looking for someone that actually knew what he or she was doing.  Upon answering, Brian was completely accommodating of my ridiculous request to come in within the next 30 minutes to have a lie fitting performed.  He quoted me the very reasonable price of $50 to have the lie angles on each and every one of my irons and wedges (10 clubs total) adjusted based on a dynamic fitting he would perform at the driving range.  He would watch me hit a few shots, take the club, bend it, and watch me hit more shots to determine the correct lie angle for each club.   This is tour-level fitting, people.  Brian also checked the lofts on each of my irons to make sure they were consistent.  I also learned that Brian is a certified Titleist club fitter.  He knows my AP2s better than most in the Bay Area.  After about 45 minutes of hitting balls and bending clubs, Brian informed me that he bent my irons 2 degrees flat, wedges 1 degree flat, and did not adjust my 60* wedge at all because the sole already showed that it was at the correct lie angle for my swing.

I am not sure I can say enough good things about the experience with Brian, but if you are interested in making your game better, I highly recommend getting your clubs fitted to your swing so that you don’t start making compensations in your swing to make up for an incorrect lie angle.  If you are in the Bay Area, I highly recommend a trip to Palo Alto Muni to visit Brian Razzari if you want a tour-level fitting experience for a reasonable price.

Palo Alto Muni: http://www.bradlozaresgolfshop.com/ or call 650-856-0881 and ask for Brian.

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