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Choking Down on a Golf Club: Mastering Control When Needed

Master control on the golf course! Learn when & how to "choke down" on your clubs for increased accuracy, lower ball flight & more.
Choking Down on the Club

Golf has changed where distance is everything and even the governing body of golf, USGA, is trying to change the balls so they don’t fly as far. But when you want to control the ball more than hit it far, this simple adjustment, achieved by gripping the club lower down the shaft, offers a multitude of benefits for golfers of all skill levels. Everyone is taking notice now since Anthony Kim has returned to competitive golf with the LIV League. Anthony Kim is renowned for how he chokes down on his clubs, as noted by Tiger Woods. 

“AK” is an extreme case since he does it on every one of his clubs. He probably didn’t start learning that way but over time, he probably realized that he has more control when he makes his clubs a bit shorter. Typically choking down is done strategically when trying to hit a controlled shot like a punch shot or maybe even in the bunkers. So when exactly should you consider choking down, and what are the advantages and potential drawbacks of this technique?

Benefits of Choking Down on a Club

Choking down essentially involves shifting your hands slightly lower on the club’s grip, usually by an inch. This will mean that the butt-end of your grip will stick out from your hands about 1.5 to 2 inches. This shortens the effective length of the lever, influencing various aspects of your swing and ultimately, ball flight.

This change has a variety of benefits to someone who has mastered the shot:

  • Better accuracy: The increased feel and reduced swing arc often lead to greater accuracy, particularly on shorter shots around the green. With a shorter lever, your swing naturally becomes more compact, leading to better control and potentially less power.
  • Versatility with different clubs: While primarily used with irons and wedges, you can also choke down with a driver or even fairway wood in tight fairways for more controlled tee shots, sacrificing some distance for accuracy.
  • Lower ball flight: Due to the shortened lever and potential swing changes, the clubface tends to impact the ball at a lower angle, resulting in a less lofted trajectory.  In the wind shots are perfect examples to choke down and hit it lower.
  • Increased clubface control: The closer grip position offers more feel and control over the clubface, allowing for greater precision in shot execution.
  • Easier swing for the body: For golfers with physical limitations or injuries, choking down can lessen the stress on the back and arms due to the shorter swing and potentially reduced power.  When you have a shorter club, you will need to set up closer to the ball which means you will use your body to control the club instead of your hands and arms. 

When to Choke Down on a Club

Now that we understand the mechanics, let’s delve into scenarios where choking down can be a valuable asset:

  • Tight lies: When your ball is on a bare spot with minimal grass or even in a divot, choking down provides more control to maneuver the club through the obstruction and creating a better contact with the ball.
  • Windy conditions: Windy golf conditions can cause havoc to your game. Choking down on irons and wedges helps lower the ball flight, reducing the wind’s influence and keeping the shot under control.
  • Approach shots around the green: For delicate approach shots requiring pinpoint accuracy and distance control, choking down on wedges offers greater feel and precision, allowing you to lower your trajectory.  
  • Reduce distance: Choking down can help you take a few yards off the distance of a shot. This is beneficial when your distance is in-between clubs.
  • Take spin off the ball: Choking down can reduce the spin rate of the ball which keeps the ball lower.
  • Fairway bunkers: Gripping down your club about an inch can help you make better ball contact. You will need to take an extra club however.
  • Swing with rhythm: This is a good way to feel that you’re not trying to swing hard so choking down can simplify your swing and instill a sense of control, helping you regain confidence and make solid contact.

FAQs: Choking Down 

How much should I choke down?

No right answer but typically an inch is a good starting point. Experiment and find what feels comfortable and delivers the desired results. You may have to change ball position and set up closer to the ball. 

Will I lose distance by choking down?

Yes, due to the shortened lever, you can expect a slight loss in distance. However, the trade-off for increased control and accuracy can be worthwhile in specific situations.

Are there any drawbacks to choking down?

Besides distance and a lower trajectory, the club face can be turned more easily if you can not control the face down the target line either with an arced path or a strong/weak grip.

Should I always choke down when facing a difficult shot?

Absolutely! When feeling a shorter club in your hands, you’re not trying to overpower your swing so you should feel more relaxed and swing with a better tempo. This will make you overcome the pressure and give you the chance to put a better swing for that shot. Better shots usually come out when you’re in control and you take more club.

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V Tongwarin

Visanu Tongwarin or “Coach V” is a Class A PGA Teaching Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course and Walnut Creek Golf Preserve in Westminster, Colorado. V's brings his passion for teaching the game of golf to all levels of golfers from running children clinics to training state champions and seasoned professionals.