Angle Adjustments: A Golf Clubs Industry Guide Part 1

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Golf instructors and club fitters know angle adjustments are among the fastest ways to improve a player’s ball flight. Whether changing the lie to improve accuracy or changing loft to make certain that the player’s clubs are progressively consistent for distance, angle adjustments are major factor in club performance.

When it comes to loft and lie, many players have incorrect ideas about what can be done and what effect changes may have on playability. Being an industry professional, it is important to become knowledgeable to all facets of club bending. When you do so, you become the equipment expert and your golfers will rely on you as their source of equipment alteration.

Here are some facts and fallacies for you to be aware of so you can better serve the needs of your golfers.

Can cast clubs be bent?

Most irons can be bent, but the question of being able to bend cast clubs is still asked. The simple answer to that question is “yes”. Cast 17-4 stainless steel irons will be more difficult to bend since they are harder (C34-38 on the Rockwell Scale) than 431 (C18-25) or forged carbon steel (high B’s on the scale).

Keep in mind that we are assuming the iron has the proper heat treatment and annealing that will permit bending. Annealing ensures a more consistent grain structure in the metal. Heat treatment makes the head hard enough to withstand constant golf ball impacts.

Also, the club must have a hosel design that will allow bending. Special bars may be required for certain hosel designs such as those with a shorter hosel. With proper equipment, nearly all hosel designs can be bent accurately and consistently ensuring properly fitted clubs for your golfers.

There is also a misconception that clubs that have been bent have “memory” that makes them naturally return to the original specification. This is simply not true. Once a club is bent to a given specification it will stay there until changed by an outside force of either bending again or striking a hard object.

Can today’s metal woods be bent?

Even though a lot of people will immediately say no, the correct answer is “yes” with certain requirements. While there are limitations, many of today’s metal woods are indeed bendable, especially stainless steel heads. Forged titanium models are bendable as well. Their softer titanium structure allows bending. Provided the hosel of the wood is long enough to allow the bending bar to fit over its length, metal woods can be bent to custom fit a player. This applies to both face angle and lie.

What about bending the loft of a metal wood? When you bend the hosel forward or back from the face plane you close or open the club’s face angle. This will change the playing loft of the club by changing the trajectory of the ball but it can potentially cause misdirected shots because the golfer may not square the club face in a horizontal attitude.

If a metal wood has an adjustable hosel it cannot be bent, but the amount of change between each setting can be measured properly with the proper angle machine.

Unfortunately, the angles of each setting do not repeat from metal woods of the same brand and model. Furthermore, when shafts are interchanged between to metal woods of the same brand and model the lie and face angles do not always repeat. The tolerance between the machined shaft tip and the hosel receptor vary and produce angle adjustments. This is true with all manufacturers.

Do club companies manufacture progressively consistent clubs?

In short, the answer is “no”. While they certainly try to make consistent product, they do not necessarily do so. It would be nice to believe that every set comes from the factory with precise specifications, but this is just not the case.

There are often inconsistencies in the lofts and lies of the clubs. Clubs are mass-produced with certain +/- manufacturing tolerances in every factory. However, you can easily bend the lofts and lies to be progressively consistent from one club to the next with zero tolerance. Plus you can bend the angles to a consistent specification precisely fit for any golfer.

Are there standards for loft and lie angles?

One of the most overused words in the golf industry is “Standard.” Instead of the word standard, perhaps the word average should be used.

A quick look on the internet at specifications for the best selling #5 irons from four major manufacturers shows lie angles of 61.0, 61.5, 61.5 and 62 degrees. Not surprisingly there is no stated tolerance on any site, making one wonder just how close that 61.75-degree specification is. A look at standard lofts of #5 irons from these same manufacturers shows 21.5, 23, 24 and 25 degrees.

As an industry professional you should use the manufacturer’s specifications as a reference only. When adjusting loft ask the player if they have any distance gaps between clubs that a loft change of a degree or two will correct.

The word standard really doesn’t come into play with club performance fitting. Each player should be matched to his or her own individual specifications. If you want to call those specifications standard for that player, fine. But make sure you record the details for future reference, thereby setting their “standard” for improved individual performance.

It is vital to know the exact specification of the club’s angles when checking for a proper fit using a lie test. The lie test could show the need for the club to be more upright or flatter.

The performance is the key element during the lie test, which determines a specific angle in degrees. The test club must be measured and adjusted to the new angle.

Remember the set is not necessarily progressively consistent and therefore each club should be bent to a predetermined angle in relation to the test club. Do not bend every club in the set by the proverbial “2 degrees up or flat” thinking you adjusted the entire set consistently.

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