If you’ve ever been to a golf instructor, watched a professional tournament on television, or flipped on the Golf Channel, you’ve probably heard someone talking about hitting the golf ball from the inside.
It’s a popular message in the golf world that most people assume their audience knows what it means. The meaning can be assumed, it’s fairly self-explanatory, but the truth is, not everyone should try to hit the golf ball from the inside.
A lot of amateur golfers would benefit from hitting the ball more from the inside, but that’s not always the case.
Hitting the ball from the inside is a fix to an issue, perhaps one of the most common, that is often found in a golf swing. That issue is the slice or pull, both of which have the same path flaw.
What Hitting from the Inside means in the Golf Swing?
So, the first thing we need to do is define what it means to hit the golf ball from the inside. There are times when hitting the golf ball from the inside is needed and there are times when it is not. For example, a player who wants to intentionally hit a slice or a fade would not want to swing from the inside.
Picture an imaginary line between your target and golf ball, extending infinitely in both directions. That is your target line and the reference point people use to discuss hitting the golf ball from the inside.
Hitting the golf ball from the inside would mean that a golfer’s club head makes impact with the half of the golf ball that is closer to the player’s body (the inside).
This move is often very subtle, but feels very significant from the player’s perspective. A lot of times, a change like this, made to the golf swing, feels incredibly awkward and ineffective at first because it is outside the player’s natural comfort zone.
One of the most common reasons people talk about hitting the ball from the inside is because they want to create an inside-out path.
The neutral swing path, which creates a perfectly straight shot, also comes from the inside, but then extends slightly inside the target line again after impact. If you imagine your golf swing from a bird’s-eye view, your golf swing is basically a circle.
The target line connects to the swing circle at only one point, that’s impact. Ideally, your swing would approach the ball from the inside, make contact with the ball, and then travel inside at the same rate afterwards.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case and getting that exactly correct is nearly impossible. Not even the pros on tour can do that every time. So, we all have to learn to manage our path by swinging inside-out or outside-in.
Figure 1: Bird’s-eye view of a golfer and swing.
Why would you want an Inside Out Golf Swing?
Next, let’s dig in to why a golfer should hit the golf ball from the inside. In general, there are nine ball flights that a golfer can hit; a combination of pull, push, slice, fade, draw, hook, and straight. These nine ball flights are collectively referred to as the ball flight laws.
Of course, there are also punch shots, flops shots, etc., but those are for another conversation completely. In order to hit each ball flight, it requires a specific combination of face angle at impact and club head path. These two swing characteristics work together to create the nine ball flights.
The funny thing about ball flights and club head path is that they work opposite of what most people’s natural thought.
For example, if a golfer continues to struggle with hitting a slice, a lot of the time that’s because they are swinging outside their target-line to inside their target-line.
On the surface, you might think this is counter-intuitive, but it’s not. That type of club head path actually puts side spin on the golf ball which makes it slice, almost uncontrollably.
Path and Face Combinations
There are three different paths that a golfer can swing their club head down;
There are also three club face angles a golfer can have at the moment of impact;
The combination of the three paths and three face angles create the nine possible ball flights.
So, in a situation where a player puts too much side spin on a golf ball, leading to a slice, they would want to correct that by swinging more from the inside. Likewise, a player who straight pulls the ball would also benefit from hitting the ball from the inside more.
You’ll need to do a little self-diagnosis to figure out what your path and face. In general, where a ball starts will indicate the face angle and where a ball finishes will indicate the path. This is one of the most helpful things to remember for all golfers to fix their swing mid-round.
How to Hit the Golf Ball from the Inside
Finally, if hitting the golf ball from the inside is something that you need to do more of, we’re going to continue with how to do it. A lot of times, a golf swing change is easier said than done.
Chances are good that you’ve made a habit of swinging outside-in, so just thinking about doing the opposite probably won’t fix your problem overnight. Instead, there are some areas of focus you can spend time on that will put your body in the right position to hit the golf ball from the inside.
The Right Elbow
First, let’s focus on your back elbow (right elbow for a right-handed player). As you start the downswing, you’re going to want to keep the elbow as close to your rib cage as possible. This will allow the club to drop in the proper slot where it can hit the ball on the inside half.
This means that the opposite is true for an outside-in swing. Golfers who swing outside-in, often times will let the elbow drift away from the body where it can extend to the outer half of the ball. Some golf professionals call this move, when the elbow moves away from the body, a chicken wing.
Flat Left Wrist
Next, you want to make sure that you keep the back of your front wrist (left wrist for a right-handed player) flat.
Keeping the wrist flat, but cocked, will force the club to lag behind your hands and stay on the inside of the golf ball. If the wrist bends in the extension direction, it has the potential to drift outside the ball again, which is unhelpful.
Hit to the Second Baseman
Finally, if you imagine standing at home plate on a baseball diamond and hitting a golf ball into the field. You want to throw your hands out to the 2nd baseman (right side of 2nd base) after impact (for a right-handed player). In order to extend your arms in that direction through impact, you’ll be forced into an inside outside golf swing. Some players find this a little easier to do if they are in the Reverse K Setup.
Drills to Hit the Inside of Golf Ball
Now that we’ve discussed the what, why, and how of hitting the golf ball from the inside. In this section, we’ll go over some drills you can practice to get your club coming from the inside more, resulting in better golf shots.
Water Bottle Drill:
The water bottle drill is fairly simple to do, but really effective at curing a bad golf club path.
- Simply set a water bottle (or club head cover) outside and behind your golf ball.
- Then, hit your shot as normal.
The presence of the water bottle will force your body to change its movements in order to avoid hitting the obstruction. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you change your path when it means not hitting something that might be in the way.
Glove under arm:
This next drill is also pretty simple.
- Take an unused glove or small towel and put it under your back arm (right arm for a right-handed player).
- Hold it in place without using your hands; you’ll need to pinch it between your arm and side.
- Then, hit some golf shots, making sure that you keep the glove under your arm throughout the entire swing.
This will force you to keep your back elbow close to your side, thus impacting the golf ball from the inside.
For this final drill, you’ll need an alignment stick, snow pole, or an extra golf club.
- Lay whatever you have on the ground, in front of the ball, just outside your target line.
- Slant the stick, so that it points out, as if pointing towards the 2nd baseman on a baseball diamond. That will be a focal point during your swing.
- Hit shots like normal, but try to extend your arms down that line after impact.
Having that in your sight will give you a reference point for extending your arms.
These three drills are all great to do separately. Don’t combine them right away, because that would be a lot to think about while practicing, but you can slowly combine them as you get better at it and want to make it more difficult.
The Bottom Line
There you have it! Like I said earlier, hitting the ball from the inside isn’t necessarily for everyone.
If you’re trying to hit a fade, slice, or a pull, then hitting the ball from the inside will actually be unhelpful. One way to measure that, is to get on a golf launch monitor. That being said, for the majority of golfers who want to correct a slice, or start hitting the ball straighter, working on impacting the ball from the inside will be extremely helpful.
Practice the three drills above and you’ll quickly see your ball flight change to one that flies straighter and more consistent.