One of the most important things I can do as a coach and instructor is to help my students understand why they hit the ball well—and what they are doing when they are not hitting it well. I always feel that their poor shots give the teacher and student the greatest opportunity to learn. Often, it’s the student’s concept that is off. This is a great visual that I use to help the student understand both path and face: It’s the Inner and Outer Circle drill.
There are two semicircles we deal with in the golf swing: The inner that the hands are on, and the outer that the club is on. In the accompanying photos, I’ve drawn “inner” and “outer” lines on the turf with red paint to illustrate how they work together.
In the backswing, the hands stay on the inner circle and the club head stays on the outer. Often, players’ faults are caused from this relationship getting off, right from the start.
The ideal downswing: The hands drop back down on the inner circle and club head moves outward to the outer circle.
The key move is on the downswing. The hands need to come back down and inward and get on the inner circle, while the club head needs to come out slightly and stay on the outer circle.
The forward part of the swing and arc is not explained enough to students. They need to understand that the hands and club don’t break away towards the target—they stay on those circles.
As I demonstrate in this photo, the hands move inward toward the front hip/heel and the club head moves quickly left of the target line. By maintaining this relationship, the club face stays square to the path, which minimizes excessive opening and closing. This also creates a much lower rate of closer resulting in straighter shots and less need to time up the face.
Players can hit half shots with these circles on the ground as well.
In the downswing, if a player has both the hands and the club on the inner circle, their impact will tend to be shallow and path to the right, re-sulting in hooks, pushes, fats and thins.
A player whose hands and club both go out on the outer circle in the downswing will be too much above the plane, resulting in pulls, slices, chunks, and tops.