Should You Choke Up or Choke Down on Driver? Distance vs Control
By Coach Erik Schjolberg – Feb 9, 2024
Key Takeaways – Should I Choke Up On My Driver?
- Choking down will give you more control, but it can reduce the total distance of your shot
- When you choke down on a driver, the ball flight will be impacted, and the trajectory is typically a bit lower
- If you find you need to choke down on a driver just to control it at all, you may want to look at a custom fitting to ensure you are properly fitted for your club
- Professional golfers sometimes use drivers longer than standard, and they don’t choke up; this is done to achieve maximum distance
Remember being a little kid and all the sports equipment you used was just a little too big for you? Was this just me?
What was the tip of advice that was so easy to throw around? “Choke down!”
Many golfers are still channeling this inner voice telling them to choke down on the driver as it is considerably longer than the other clubs in the bag. Your driver is your longest golf club, and for some people to get the control they want, they choke down on the driver.
Let’s take a more in-depth look as to the impact this has, whether or not it’s worth it, and if you should choke down on your driver.
What Are The Impacts of Choking Up on Driver?
Choking down on your golf driver will impact your swing considerably. When the swing is changed, so are the results of your shot. The biggest differences you see are the ball’s flight and the total distance.
Lower Ball Flight
When you choke down on the driver, you will hit the ball a bit lower than you do when holding the club at the butt end.
Many golfers feel that the golf ball will travel further with a lower ball flight. However, hitting the ball lower down does not typically lead to more distance.
If you hit ten drives high and ten drives low, the average distance for the higher drives will be considerably higher. In the case of a drive that you are hitting into the wind, you may see a few extra yards should you choke up on driver and keep it low.
Reduced Spin Rates Off The Face
Choking down on the driver makes the golf driver shaft a bit shorter. Spin is a bit easier to control, meaning your slice may not slice quite as far out of bounds!
Spin rates are a major problem for some players.
If you know your golf swing creates high spin rates, choking down can be the change you need to start seeing the center of the fairway again.
Slower Club Head Speed
Choking down on the driver will slow down your speed a bit. Generally speaking, slowing down club head speed on the golf course is not a good thing.
I have always found that choking up on my driver has a time and a place. If I need to slow things down and sort of punch one in the fairway, I’m good with this method.
If you are simply choking down on your driver every single time because your slices are out of control, it’s probably time to find a new golf club.
A Few Yards Less
When you choke up on a golf driver, you make it shorter; shorter golf clubs do not fly as far.
Looking at your 3 wood, you can see how the total club length is a little shorter, and the combination of this with the lower loft results in considerably less distance.
I’ve tried choking down on the driver and comparing it to the 3 wood total distance to see the difference. I often find them to be about the same, with the choke down driver going just a few yards further than the 3 wood.
More Confidence For Certain Players
For some golfers standing on a tee box is the best part of the game. You have the open fairway in front of you, and you can’t wait to stripe one down the middle.
For others, the driver is a nightmare. If you are someone who struggles with finding the center of the fairway, choking down can increase overall confidence.
I’ve also found that many senior golfers benefit greatly from easing up on the shaft just a bit – especially when they are swinging the right type of driver.
This is certainly one of the better positives of choking down (or choking up, they are the same) on a driver.
Why Choke Up On A Driver?
As you can see from the impacts of choking up on driver, not everything about this is positive. I’ve choked down on a driver many times throughout my golf career, but there are a few times that I feel it is necessary and helpful to do it.
You Are Hitting A Driver Into The Wind and Trying To Keep It Low
Playing a driver into the wind can cause it to go up too high in the air and almost push back towards you. Depending on the speed of the wind, expect to get 10-30 yards less on your drives.
However, if you can hit the ball lower, you may be able to get as much distance as you normally do. Even if it’s just 5-10 yards less, on a windy day, you can call this a win.
I have used the method of choking down on driver when playing golf in the wind, and it is effective.
New Players Choke Down On Driver For Control
The driver can be a lot to manage. If you are at the driving range for the first time as a new player and feel the need for more control and consistency, choking down on the club is certainly an option.
For many new players, the only way to find the sweet spot is to do this for a few practice sessions until the driver feels less awkward.
When Working On Golf Course Management
Some golf holes are tight. You may have water down the left and right sides, and hitting a driver that lands in the middle may seem like a daunting task. Remember that choking down on the driver does create less spin, and it may keep you in the fairway.
Always consider the positives and negatives of choking down on the driver before playing it, especially if you struggle with a slicing driver.
How Far Should You Be Choking Down On Driver?
Now that you have a better idea of when to use the choke down driver shot, let’s look at how far you should choke down on the club. One of the biggest mistakes golfers make is to over correct or exaggerate a slight change in the swing; you won’t want to do this here.
When you choke down on the club, the club swing weight will change a bit; in addition, the shaft can feel stiffer. The combination of these two leaves you swinging a club head that feels heavy.
I would choke down about a half inch from the top of the driver grip and then, from there, choke down further if it seems to have no impact on the golf shot you hit.
Slower swing speed players must be especially careful how far they choke down; you could throw off your golf tempo and total distance by choking down too much on the club.
One of the great things about choking down on a driver is that it’s a simple adjustment; if you don’t like it, you can always switch back. I’ve had a lot of success choking up on clubs like a sand wedge or a pitching wedge, but the shorter driver swing is a bit more difficult to get down.
Should I choke down on my driver?
It is completely acceptable should you choke down on your driver, but expect a lower trajectory, loss of a little distance, and a slightly slower swing speed. You may remember PGA pro Anthony Kim choking down on driver, so there are a few exceptions to the rule.
Does choking up on driver help?
Choking down on a golf club is a minor adjustment that could cause you to lose distance but will likely help you gain control. For some golfers choking down on a golf club is just a matter of increasing confidence until they feel they can swing the entire club.
How much distance do you lose by choking up on your driver?
It is a common myth that you can choke down on driver for more distance. Most players lose about 5-15 yards by choking down on a golf club. It also depends on the club’s weighting and the drivers loft.
Should I shorten the driver shaft or choke down?
Most people ask themselves, “why not just choke up on driver shaft?” when having problems trying to hit the ball. If you are struggling to manage the club’s length, then it is best to have it re-shafted to something that works better for your golf game. Make sure not to just cut an old golf driver shaft down; have a custom shaft ordered for you. If you take too much of the club length off, the stiffer shaft is harder to swing.
Why do I hit my driver better when I choke down?
Many golfers choke down on driver for control. In addition, lower spin rates from choking down lead to a straighter shot and a lower trajectory. If you still have a problem slicing even when you choke down, you should consider upgrading your club to one with more forgiveness.
Should shorter golfers choke up on driver?
Most short golfers find their golf clubs to be a little long. If you make a full swing and struggle to play golf with the club you have, it makes sense to get a shorter driver shaft. Although choking up will give you better control, the swing weight may be impacted enough that you do not see the ball flight and total distance you are capable of.
Should I choke down on driver for more distance?
No, when you choke down on your driver you are sacrifice distance for more control. Instead, test out drivers with different lengths on the driving range, or use a golf ball designed specifically for distance to add a few yards.
Final Thoughts: Should You Choke Down On Your Driver?
When I got my first driver, not from a junior set of clubs, it was a little long for me. At first, I was choking up on the club to make it easier to swing and keep the golf ball in the fairway. However, when I moved my hands back to the end of the grip, the difference was pretty incredible.
All of a sudden, I saw a higher ball flight and more distance, and although the dispersion was not as tight, it was well worth it for the benefits.
The bottom line here: find a driver that fits your golf swing, don’t adjust your golf swing to work for the clubs you have in the bag. Ordering a custom driver slightly shorter than the standard length is so easy with the way golf technology has changed.