Grip Positioning and Its Effects
Gripping down or “choking down” on the golf club refers to holding the club closer to the clubhead end of the shaft rather than up by the butt end of the grip. This grip positioning technique is often used by golfers on certain shots where controlling distance or accuracy is a higher priority than achieving maximum yardages. For most full, normal golf swings, you’ll want to grip the club up towards the end of the grip in your fingers for maximum leverage and power. However, sometimes slightly choking down can help with control. Let’s explore exactly what effects choking down has on key shot factors.
Effect on Control and Consistency
Choking down on the golf club grip has the immediate effect of allowing you to lower the clubhead closer to the ball at address. This can help you achieve more consistent contact on finesse shots and shots from challenging lies. With your hands held closer to the clubhead, you have more control over the face angle and swing path in the hitting area. Many short game shots also benefit from choking down because it forces you to shorten up your swing, which tends to increase control and reduce excess wrist action on delicate shots. Keeping the clubface square becomes simpler when choking down, leading to more control and consistency with distance and accuracy.
Reduced Leverage and Clubhead Speed
While choking down on the golf club promotes more control, it also reduces the lever length of the club shaft, meaning you can’t generate as much clubhead speed in the downswing. Without maximum clubhead speed right before impact, you will lose some distance potential on full shots. Most experts suggest that every inch down from the butt end of the grip that you choke down will deduct 5-10 yards of distance from your shots. This deducted yardage can certainly add up if you grip several inches down the shaft. Some stronger and more aggressive swinging players might be able to offset this lost leverage by swinging faster. But for most, choking down comes with reduced distance as a compromise for accuracy and control.
Launch Angle and Backspin Effects
In addition to leverage and speed changes from choking down, your launch conditions may also be altered in a way that deducts yards. Specifically, the lower hand positioning can effectively “deloft” the club at impact leading to lower launch angles and less backspin, even when you make centered contact. The combination of lower launch with less spin results in a flatter, lower ball flight that tends to reduce carry distance. So not only do you lose some speed when choking down, but the resulting ball flight is often less optimal for maximum distance as well. This factor must be considered when deciding whether and how much to choke down in different situations during a round.
Considerations Based on Club Type
Another key factor is that the effects choking down has on distance partly depends on what club you’re using it with. On longer clubs with more shaft length to lose, like drivers and fairway woods, choking down can have a greater negative impact on distance simply because you’re eliminating more leverage from a longer starting shaft. However, on shorter irons and wedges that feature shorter shaft lengths to begin, choking down 1-2 inches minimally impacts distance potential while still improving control. Many experienced golfers primarily utilize choking down technique on iron shots from 150 yards and in. Doing so on a wedge or 9 iron has little effect on distance but nicely enhances precision.
Tips for Utilising Choking Down
When trying to strike that perfect balance between distance and control, here are some useful tips to apply choking down during your round:
Only choke down 1-2 inches max to limit distance loss. Any more can overly reduce length.
Use choking down mainly on shorter clubs like irons and wedges rather than woods where leverage is most important for distance.
Consider choking down on tricky lies like deep rough and uphill/sidehill where extra control enhances contact quality.
Remember swinging easier helps limit distance loss when choking down. Aggressive swings increase precision challenges.
If struggling to elevate the ball adequately, try minimizing choking down to maintain desired launch.
Proper application of choking down technique follows one main principle – only sacrifice the distance you need to gain control and precision required for the shot at hand. Let the trouble presented by the situation and your skill with each club guide how much to choke down in all cases during a round.
Implementing Choking Down in Key Situations
Certain challenging playing conditions and shot requirements commonly call for utilizing choked down grip positioning to optimize outcomes. Situations where this technique clearly helps multiple aspects of swing efficiency and shot results include:
Hitting From Obstructions – Choking down helps lift the clubhead over obstructions like tree branches with added trajectory and control. Preventing further trouble outweighs lost distance.
Playing in Heavy Rough – Thick grass reduces distance anyway. Choking down allows cleaner contact and prevents twisting the clubface closed.
Short Side Finesse Chips – Greater precision beats maximum distance around the greens. Choking down lets you best match required pace and trajectory.
Uphill and Sidehill Lies – Flatter, thinner trajectory from choking down helps compensate for shot-altering uneven lies.
Long Bunker Shots – The emphasis is getting out cleanly, not distance. Choking down provides essential control from sand.
Accuracy Over Distance Tee Shots – When the fairway or trouble carries more importance than length, choking down puts accuracy first.
As you encounter any of the above or similar shot challenges, do not hesitate to try choking down an inch or two and observe the benefits to your ball striking and shot outcomes.
If you’re looking to gain more control, launch the ball higher, achieve greater accuracy or produce more consistent ball-striking, then choking down on the golf club can certainly provide those benefits. However, simultaneously be aware that gripping down the shaft does reduce speed and leverage in a way that sacrifices some overall distance potential. For most mid-handicap to highly skilled golfers, choking down 1-2 inches works nicely for a reasonable trade-off of distance for enhanced precision and control. Implement this technique judiciously on shots and clubs where improved accuracy or contact outweighs lost yards. Mastering choking down as one key shot-making skill delivers better scoring possibilities and adds diversity to handle anything the course throws at you.