For some golfers, the fact that the driver is so long can lead to trouble with control of the ball and ensuring that the shots stay in play.
This is why some players start choking down on their driver, and they almost immediately notice the impact it has on their game.
I’ve tried this concept, especially when I was younger (and even shorter). The results are… interesting and not necessary for everyone. Some amateurs can do well with choking down on the driver, while others should think twice before using this strategy.
Let’s take a look at what choking down on your driver will do for your game.
The Pros of Choking Down on Your Driver
There are a few reasons that golfers will choke down on a driver. The first and most obvious is that the club is long, and this can be hard for some players to adjust to. However, the main reason why golfers choke down is to establish control with the club.
Better Contact with The Center of The Club Head
If you want to make consistent contact with the center of the club head, it’s easiest to do it with a shorter club.
Have you ever noticed that you can hit your pitching wedge more consistently than you can hit your 4 iron? The main reason behind this is that the 4 iron is considerably longer, and it makes it more difficult to find the sweet spot.
When something is further away, it’s harder to be accurate; when it’s closer, you have more control. If you find that you make contact with the heel, toe, upper face, or bottom of the club head, it may be time to consider choking down on the driver to see if you can hit the sweet spot.
Interestingly I put lower trajectory as both a pro and a con.
Sometimes hitting the ball lower is a great thing. If the wind is in your face and you are playing in the colder weather and want just to get the ball to advance down the fairway, this lower trajectory makes a big difference.
A lower trajectory won’t necessarily make you hit the ball further, but it does play well to the accuracy of the shot, and you should be able to hit it a bit straighter. Choking down on the club makes the club a little stiffer and therefore lowers the trajectory.
For some players, spin can be hard to keep in check with the driver in the hands. If you want to try and create a little less backspin or side spin on your golf driver, then choking down can help. Some golfers find that they get a bit more forward roll and spin when swinging with a driver they have choked down on.
Drivers today are lower in spin than they ever have been. So the technology will already be on your side here; it’s just a matter of combining it with the correct swing and setup.
Better Control of The Club
Control is the name of the game from the tee box. I have played with so many great players that can hit the ball a mile, but if you can’t keep it in play, what is the point of hitting it straight?
If you can learn to control the golf club, there is so much you can do on the golf course. For those trying to hit a fade or a draw, I highly recommend choking down as you learn. You will find it much easier to complete the process with a club in your hands that is slightly shorter in length.
The Cons of Choking Down on Your Driver
Unfortunately, choking down on a driver is not a perfect solution. There are issues with total distance, tempo, and lower ball flight that can be a problem for some players. Let’s face the facts here if this was a perfect solution, all golfers would do it, but that is not the case.
When you choke down on your driver, expect to get a little less distance. The difference in distance should be astronomical, but nobody really likes to lose distance on their drives. Expect about 5 to 15 years of loss on a driver.
The total length of most standard drivers is around 45 or 46 inches. When you choke down, you are effectively shortening the club, making it more difficult to get distance from the shots you are trying to hit.
It’s almost like hitting a 3 wood with a driver’s head on it. On an easy hole with no trouble in front of you, don’t worry about choking down on the driver. Get all the distance you can and play the wider fairway.
Slower Club Head Speed
Another problem with choking down on the driver is that it can slow down your club head speed. Of course, you may think that choking up on the club makes it shorter and easier to swing faster, but this isn’t the case.
Since the club swing weight is a bit higher and the shaft is stiffer from choking down, some players will actually lose some speed. This won’t be the case for all golfers, but it’s something to consider and think about when deciding if this is a good method for you to use on the course.
Lower Ball Flight
As I mentioned, lower ball flight is both positive and negative.
Keeping the ball in the air for a long time is good. You will get tremendous carry and the best possible results. However, a lower trajectory and a lower launch lead to less total distance.
If you want that big high, flying driver that heads down the center of the fairway, choking up is not the way to get it done.
If you have ever thought of cutting down an old golf driver shaft to make it a good choice for a younger player, you are doing them quite a disservice. When you adjust the shaft length like this by cutting it down, you make the club considerably stiffer.
The stiffer shaft will be hard for slower swing speed players to deal with. Professional golfers don’t seem too affected by this, as this minor adjustment doesn’t counteract their fast speeds.
Sometimes the tempo of your golf swing can get thrown off when you choke down on your driver. Players will inadvertently increase grip pressure, forget to make a complete backswing, and sometimes lose balance when trying to choke down on the golf club.
Of course, you can improve your golf tempo by practicing on the driving range and learning how not to change your swing when you choke down on the club. Just keep this one in mind in case you choke down and feel like your swing is not the same.
How to Decide If You Should Choke Down on Your Driver
Sometimes the playing conditions on the course or some features of our golf swing will help you decide if it makes sense to choke down on your driver. Here are the factors that you should be thinking about.
When it is cold, windy, and wet, you will want to keep your dispersion rates down. The golf course is hard enough. Make sure you are hitting these accurate drives that get plenty of roll and can penetrate through the rough conditions.
On nice weather days when your swing feels fluid, and you aren’t as concerned with control and a lower launch, choking down on the driver is likely not necessary.
Trouble on The Hole
Golfers who are good at golf course management can accurately assess a hole and decide if it’s wise to swing away or keep things a bit more under control. Of course, when there is less trouble on a hole, you can look for increased clubhead speed and more distance.
When the golf hole has water hazards, sand traps, or even out-of-bounds, it could pay to choke down on your driver and get the ball in play. Some golfers will also consider using a 3 wood for a hole like this.
The player’s height is another important consideration. If you are a taller golfer, it makes sense to hold your club at the very top. For shorter golfers, sometimes a longer driver feels challenging to control. If this is the case, simply hold the club a bit further down.
If you find yourself doing this continually, it may make sense to consider a shorter driver. Purchase this type of golf driver direct from the manufacturer instead of having it custom-fitted after the fact.
When you purchase direct, the club weighting and stiffness of the shaft can be double-checked before it’s put into your hands.
How Far You Should Choke Down
Golfers are often unsure of exactly how far down the shaft they should be choking down on a driver. You will have to play around with this based on what feels comfortable and what produces the proper results.
Generally speaking, choking down about one inch from the top of the driver is the perfect amount for most players. This small amount still has a great impact on the overall length of the shot and the ability to get the ball in the center of the fairway.
Remember that most golf grips have a taper to them. This means that the further you choke down, the smaller the club is going to feel in your hands. This can impact your ability to turn the club over, and some players hit the ball left because of it.
The next time you’re at the driving range, try a few swings choking down on your driver and see how it works out.