Are you looking for more control and consistency in your golf game? If you’re like 99.9% of amateur golfers, my guess is yes!
Well, today we’re going to show you exactly how to do that with one simple tweak: choking down on your grip. I know it sounds simple, but trust me, this is a game changer.
Turn on the TV and watch guys like Tiger Woods, Tommy Fleetwood, and other top ball strikers do this regularly. If you need a simple fix to make some big changes, this is the article for you!
Benefits of Choking Down on Golf Club
I’m a huge proponent of choking up because it’s so simple and yields such amazing results. In a game that is detail-oriented and complicated, this is one of those things that can make an overnight difference.
Plus, it’s not something that you have to stress over like tempo, backswing, or downswing. Instead, it’s one small adjustment at setup and then take your normal swing to add a ton of new shots to your bag.
Here are the biggest benefits of choking up on the golf club.
The first huge benefit of choking down on the golf club is the added control. Since the club instantly becomes shorter, it’s easier to control. In general, the more you choke up, the more control you will gain.
Don’t believe me?
Just think about your 7 iron vs. your driver.
The 7-iron is much shorter than the driver and thus, much easier to control. I bet you’ve never missed an iron 80 yards right of your target like you have with a driver. While loft of course does play a role, I just wanted to illustrate the point of shorter clubs tend to mean more control.
Having extra control is incredibly helpful when you’re playing tight courses with thick rough or tons of hazards. While you will lose a few yards of distance, it’s worth it as you’re likely going to hit more fairways and greens. It’s all about giving yourself more chances on the greens to drain more putts.
2. Ball Flight
The second benefit of gripping down on the club is a lower trajectory.
This will help you flatten the shot out a bit and keep the ball flying lower. If you play in a ton of windy conditions, you know how important it is to shape shots and keep them under control.
Plus, a lower ball flight usually means less can go wrong when your ball is in the air as well. As Tiger Woods has said, “Tee it lower because it won’t go as high and less can go wrong.”
Not to mention, the knockdown shot with a lower ball flight is great for back pins and when you’re playing links golf.
Do you ever have those days where you can’t find the center of the club if your life depended on it?
Early on in your round, if things go sideways (literally), choke down to get more consistency and control. One of the reasons it allows you to hit more consistent shots is that your follow through is usually a bit shorter as well. This leads to more of a knockdown shot with a focus on hitting in the middle of the face, not solely focusing on distance.
Sometimes, you have to put your pride aside and start focusing on finding more fairways and greens than hitting everything max distance. Don’t forget, confidence is built one shot at a time and sometimes all you need is one good shot to turn the momentum of a bad round in the right direction.
4. More Shots In the Bag
Finally, when you choke up on the club you have more options and less awkward distances. As you’ll see in the wedge section below, choking up allows you to be more creative with the ball on the course. This will help you build confidence and likely free up your long game as well.
Disadvantages of Choking Down
While there are a ton of advantages of choking down, there are two downsides to address as well.
Loss of Distance
As you choke down on the golf club, it does become shorter and thus, affects total distance. While your spin rates will likely decrease, so will your total carry distance as well.
The more you choke down on the grip, the less the golf ball will carry.
As long as you work out the distances on the range in practice, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue though. Remember, choking up gives you the chance to hit more shots and reduce awkward distance. It’s not something you have to do (or should do) on every full swing.
The second disadvantage to gripping down is how it affects the weight of the club and the shaft stiffness. As the great Lee Trevino once said,
“I love watching Anthony Kim play, but I’m not a fan of the way he grips down a good two inches on his full swing shots. Choking down lightens the club’s swing weight and effectively makes the shaft stiffer.”
Sadly, Anthony Kim has seemingly left the game forever but Trevino is right about how gripping down affects the club. Choking up does change the weight and makes the club shorter and slightly stiffer.
While I think the pros far outweigh the cons, it’s still something to consider when testing this out on the range.
How to Choke Up on Golf Club
Luckily, you don’t need tons of drills and instruction to start testing this out immediately. Instead, it’s all about testing it on the driving range, not on the golf course.
In general, start by choking up one inch on the club and see how it affects your shot shape and distance. Then, try out another inch. The more you grip down on the club, the closer you will need to stand to make up for it but otherwise, no real adjustment is needed.
You might be thinking, should I choke up on my driver too?
In certain situations, yes, choking up on the driver can help a lot.
The first reason to choke down on a driver is when you’re just having an off day and not feeling it. If you’re missing big off the tee, grip down an inch and take your normal driver swing. You’ll likely find it’s easier to control and keep in the short stuff more often than not.
The second reason to choke up on a driver is if it’s windy outside, especially when hitting into the wind. Remember, the harder you swing, the more spin is produced. But when playing in windy conditions, more spin can wreak havoc on your golf ball.
By choking up an inch and making your normal move, it’ll create less spin and stay underneath the wind.
Finally, choking up on a driver is a good idea if you’re playing a tight hole and really need to find the fairway. There are some holes where a 3 wood isn’t enough distance but a driver is kind of risky. To make it safer, grip down a little bit to reduce the spin rate, lower the ball flight, and you won’t lose out on much distance.
What do the best iron players in the world (like Tiger Woods or Ben Hogan) have in common besides amazing ball striking?
Choking up so they can shape shots.
If you watch the best players in the world on TV, you’ll notice they are always choking up to hit different shots. By choking up, it’s a lot easier to play certain shots like a punch draw or a flighted 7 iron that stays under the wind. The spin rate is lower and the ball flies consistently toward the green.
Since irons are still relatively long compared to your wedges, you don’t want to choke down much more than an inch or two (at most). For example, if you choke down all the way to the steel on a 7-iron, it might feel too awkward for most players. Instead, leave gripping down that much for wedges.
While choking up with irons is helpful, I would argue it’s even more helpful with your wedges.
Because most golfers struggle from the 50-120 yard range. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your game, yet so few players work on this stuff on the range.
Think about it, most golfers have 3-4 wedges in the bag. Usually, there is a 10-15 yard gap between each wedge.
Well, what do you do when you get that awkward distance between two wedges on the golf course? Some guys try to swing easy and others try to make a shorter swing and get lackluster results.
The answer is to make your normal swing but just choke up. Unless you’re practicing a ton, these aren’t easy shots to pull off.
When you try to do a half swing, a lot of golfers take it back too far, recognize it and then decelerate on the downswing. This then creates the chunk or ending up way short.
The other way golfers try to take off distance is they think, “nice and easy.” But this also can lead to deceleration and ending up short.
Choking up and learning the distances depending on how much you do it is the answer. Let me show you…
Choke Down Example
For example, let’s assume you hit your full wedges:
- Lob wedge: 75 yard shot
- Sand wedge: 90 yard shot
- Gap wedge: 105 yard shot
- Pitching wedge: 120 yard shot
Instead of trying to go easy or make a half-swing, try to create two or even three distances for each wedge. Here’s how it could work with your gap wedge:
- Normal gap wedge: 105 yard shot
- Choke up one inch: 98-100 yard shot
- Choke up two inches (close to the shaft): 93-98 yard shot
By choking up with your wedges, you can turn each wedge into a weapon so that you never have awkward distances again. Plus, you will hit the ball lower than you do with a full wedge.
Chipping and Pitching
While choking up will help your full swings, it’ll also have a huge impact on your chipping and pitching as well. The main reason is because it makes it easier to accelerate on short chip shots.
For example, if you have a bump-n-run style shot and grip the club regularly, it’s easy to chunk one because of deceleration. But if you choke up 1-2 inches, it’s easier to accelerate and make better contact around the greens.
This also applies to pitching, sand shots, and hitting tight shots around the green. By choking up and making the club shorter, it’s easier to accelerate and get the ball out of the thick stuff so you can have more putts to save par.
Remember, acceleration is key to being a great short game player!
Finally, you can also choke up on your putter as well. Studies have found that most golfers are playing too long of a putter, which leads to some serious issues before you even take the club back.
When a putter is too long, it’s hard to get your eyes in the right position and get the ball started on line. But when you choke up a little, you can get closer to the ball and tend to have a better roll.
Plus, I think choking up on really fast, downhill putts is also helpful to get the right pace. It allows you to take a smaller backswing which will help you not race one by three or four feet.
As always, test it out on the putting green before trying it out on the course.
As you can tell, choking up on the golf club is a secret weapon that a lot of golfers don’t take advantage of enough. Sure, you will lose some distance by choking up but in general, it’s almost always worth it.
This is a great way to add new shots in your bag and save yourself when you’re hitting it poorly. Plus, on days when it’s windy and you need to reduce backspin, choking up can have a huge impact on your game as well.
By simply adjusting your grip and choking up even an inch, it can help almost every club in your bag. Remember, choking down slightly allows you to:
- Hit it more consistently
- Gain more control even on your off days
- Hit the ball lower and keep it underneath the wind
- Add more shots to your game for more confidence on the course
But don’t take my word for it, instead go out and test it in your next practice session and short game area. Try out choking all the way up to the shaft and only an inch with a sand wedge, 7 iron, driver, and more. Watch how the ball flies and keep testing and tweaking so you can find what works best for your game.