Golf would be a pretty boring game if you hit every single shot the exact same way. It’s the variety of the game that makes it interesting.
The fact that you need to be able to produce many different shots in order to rise to the various challenges you’ll encounter on the course is what makes this game so addicting.
In this article, we are going to talk about the art of choking down on the golf club. We call it an ‘art,’ rather than a science, because there is a lot of room for personal style and preference with these kinds of shots.
You can learn the basics of the fundamentals that go into a choked-down shot, but you also need to simply practice and develop your own ability one swing at a time.
The Difference Choking Down Makes
Obviously, if you are going to choke down on your club – which means moving your hands down the grip at address – you need to have a good reason. If there wasn’t anything to gain by choking down, after all, you would just keep your standard grip and hit a normal shot.
So, what can you gain by choking down? There are a few possibilities, depending on the situation you face and what you are trying to accomplish.
#1 Reduce the Distance of the Shot
This is perhaps the most-commonly cited reason to choke down on the club. If you need to take a few yards off the typical distance that you would get from a given club, you can choke down.
For example, if you usually hit your 7-iron 150-yards, but you need to hit a 145-yard shot, you could choke down an inch or two and make a comfortable swing.
Rather than trying to hit an 8-iron as hard as you can, hitting a choked-down 7-iron could be the perfect option for the situation.
#2 Take Spin Off the Ball
When you make a full swing while keeping your hands up at the top of the club, you are likely to produce a significant amount of backspin. That is particularly true if you are hitting a short iron from a fairway lie.
If you are facing a shot that will be better handled with a lower spin rate, choking down is a way to accomplish just that. You’ll have a bit less speed through the ball, so your spin rate should be lower as the ball leaves the club.
#3 Fight the Elements
Choke down shots are also used often when the wind is blowing. A shot played with your hands down the grip will usually come out lower and fly lower as it heads toward the target. That’s a great thing when the wind is blowing and making it difficult to move the ball around the course accurately.
Hitting the ball way up into the sky on a windy day usually isn’t a good option, so learn how to choke down and you can manage windy conditions more successfully.
Giving It a Try
You should already know that any shot you try on the course should be practiced on the range first. With that in mind, try hitting some shots during your next practice session with your hands a bit lower on the grip.
You don’t need to have any big plan for how you are going to practice this shot – just hit a few and see how it goes.
Keep experimenting and gradually your results should improve. The tips below may help you make progress a little bit quicker:
#1 Keep it Smooth
It’s easy to rush a swing when your hands are choked down on the club. Since the overall swing will be shorter, you might feel inclined to rush through it and get away from your normal tempo.
Don’t fall into that trap. Make it a point to take your time and let the swing develop naturally from start to finish.
#2 Stay Down Through Impact
Remember – the club is now effectively shorter than it would be for a normal swing. That means you don’t have as much club between your hands and the ground, so you will need to do a good job of staying down through impact if you are going to make clean contact.
If you come up at all, you’ll hit the shot thin and you won’t be happy with the result.
#3 Cut the Finish
If you are choking down as a way of hitting the ball lower, it’s a good idea to cut off the finish of the swing. Rather than swinging all the way up to a full finish with the club wrapped around your back, cut it off on the way through and finish with the club out in front of your body.
Thinking About Choking Down Situationally
Once you get comfortable with choking down on the club during practice, it will be time to put this kind of shot to the test on the course.
One of the biggest keys in the whole process is choosing your spots wisely. You don’t want to force this shot into action – rather you want to use it when it is truly called for.
Do you need to take some distance off of the shot? Do you need to hit it low?
Don’t force these situations just to show off your new shot. It’s always best to play a stock shot whenever possible. Think about using your normal shots first and only move to something like a choked-down shot when the situation is right.
We hope this article has given you a nice understanding of choking down on the golf club.
Is this a shot you are going to use all the time? No.
Is it a shot you are going to master after just a few swings on the range? No again.
It is an incredibly useful piece of the golf puzzle, however, so you would be wise to invest some time and effort into developing this skill. Now get out there and have fun working on your new shot!