With a global pandemic keeping most of us at home, it’s very likely you have some free time on your hands. Normally, this would be a good time to roll through the yearly equipment checklist to get your gear in shape — for those of you up north, we’ll get to that in a future post — but due to an unusually warm winter, even for golfers in the Northeast, it’s a good bet the clubs didn’t make it in the locker.
And if you’ve been playing regularly, the next few weeks (or months) could act as a nice reset if your golf course happens to be closed temporarily.
Check the loft and lie of your irons
Even if your course is open, go ahead and use the coming weeks to have the lofts and lie angles checked on your irons and wedges. It sounds trivial, but this is probably the most important tune-up you’ll make all season.
Let’s start with the basics: the loft on each iron and wedge doesn’t remain static during the life of the set. Depending on how often you play, iron head material — softer forged carbon steels will move more with regular use — and course conditions (firm versus soft), you very well could benefit from getting the lofts checked on your clubs more regularly to ensure everything is where it should be.
The loft gaps between each iron are put in place to ensure you can swing smooth and hit a specific number. Shift the loft a couple of degrees in either direction and you’re suddenly struggling to hit certain yardages. And did I mention a change in loft can negatively affect how the sole goes through the turf at impact?
The same goes for the lie angle, which is usually determined by height, arm length, posture and impact location. If, for instance, you practice a majority of the time on astroturf mats during the winter, there’s a very good chance the beating you’re inflicting on the iron head by repeatedly bashing it into a thick mat that’s sitting on top of a concrete slab is going to alter how the club sits on the ground.
And if you’re adjusting the lie angle, it’s possible you could be making a good swing and getting penalized because your specs are off.
Getting the loft and lie angle checked is going to run you anywhere from $2-$5 per club, depending on the amount of work needed. It’s a relatively inexpensive tune-up that’ll save you some massive headaches once the season kicks into gear, whenever that might be.
And if you’re still scoffing at the importance of loft and lie angle checks, use Max Homa’s 2017 PGA Tour season as a cautionary tale. Homa was never one to inspect his gear and rarely frequented the equipment truck during tournament weeks. He wound up missing 15 of 17 cuts that year and admitted the specs on some of his clubs had actually moved, leading to poor shots when the swing was in a good place.
“I did find that I needed to get a little better at this year is paying more attention to my specs,” Homa told GOLF.com. “So just because I’m hitting a squirrely shot here or there, I don’t need to immediately go into blaming myself. It’s a fine line. You don’t know if you’re kind of being a baby about it, or if you’re actually maybe fit wrong for a certain club.
“A few years ago, I actually had a little bit of a dent in my 3-wood. I just assumed that I wasn’t hitting it well, so that can happen. I’m trying to be a little bit easier on myself and not hit a bad shot and immediately blame myself.”
When Homa returned to the Tour in 2019, he started getting his clubs checked on a regular basis to ensure everything was in good working order. He wound up winning his first Tour title last season at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Tour players routinely get their loft and lies checked, with some, including Tour winner Keith Mitchell, popping by the truck every week they’re out to have their clubs inspected. The average golfer doesn’t need to follow Mitchell’s lead in this case, but it would stay make sense to get them checked at least once per season.
Now is as good a time as ever to have that yearly checkup.