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Gripping Down . . . Or Choking Up?
Adding a measure of control to your shotmaking.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of gripping down on the club to gain control over your shotmaking. I know, many golfers refer to it as “choking up”, but since the hands move down the grip, rather than up, and I despise the word “choking”, I’m going with my term, OK?

I got a question from Mark G, who asked if I’m such a fan of gripping down with the wedges, why not with all the clubs? He then posted his observation about Anthony Kim, who grips down on his driver two inches or more it appears. And he’s pretty darn long and a darn fine driver of the ball.

Very simply, Mark and all of you, gripping down to change the length of the club does a number of things for your shotmaking, all of them pretty darn good.

First of all, it reduces the length of the club, which gives you more control. That’s a simple matter of physics – it’s easier to make solid contact with a club that is shorter. Not many golfers I know would rather have a four iron into a green than a five or six. The only thing that makes the higher number clubs more accurate is that they are easier to master at their shorter length.

Secondly, it helps you make more solid dead-center contact. And research continues to show that the single best way to gain yards is to hit the ball in the center of the face. Even with the large drivers, a miss of just ½” can cost you 7-9% of your distance. And it takes a lot of clubhead speed to make up for that!!! I remember a number of years ago after Ernie Els won the U.S. Open at Congressional, he remarked that he had all of his irons shortened by ¼” because Congressional demanded such accurate iron shots. He was ready to accept that he’d be shorter, but he actually found exactly the opposite – he picked up distance with all of his irons, even though they were shorter!!

Third, when you grip down, you subconsciously will make a slower and smoother swing, because you are no longer thinking about distance. And quite often you’ll hit the shot on a more boring trajectory and actually be longer than your “normal” swing with that same club. But you’ll surely be more accurate.

And finally, nearly all golfers grip their clubs too far out on the end, and that prevents a proper release through impact. Try this out. Grip one of your irons with just your left hand, with the butt of the club right in the pad of your hand. Swing it back and through one handed and feel the release of the club through impact. Then, grip down an inch or so and do the same drill. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you feel the club rotate through and release much more easily.

So, if you want to hit more fairways and greens, try playing a round of golf and grip down an inch . . . or more . . . on every club, every shot. And let us all know how your experiment turns out, OK?


photo source
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[ comments ]
cvargo says:
i started golf this summer around may, never golfed before, took some lessons, i play about twice a week and have really enjoyed the game. But like most new golfers i have a terrible slice, with a hook in there every now and then, and the other day my friend said grip down on the club, i'm 6'3" i was like how could that help??? But it has helped with my drives and fairway wood shots, i haven't gone as far to try it with the irons or the PW or SW that i carry, but after reading this i will try in on friday
9/8/09
 
cvargo says:
so wedge guy i have a question.... how should someone pick a putter? and what are all the differences???
9/9/09
 
Tim Horan says:
Terry,
So impressed with the SCOR method outlined in your book that I had Wishon V5 grips put on all my irons (Wishon V5s also have distinct 1" markings). To be more precise I had my clubs re-jigged, shafts out, flowed (pured), lofts and lies tweaked and regripped. I now use your SCOR method with all my irons. I am re-gripping my hybrids and woods on the back of my success with gripping down incrementally. I finally take delivery of my MOI matched set of Wishon irons this weekend. Can't wait.
9/9/09
 
mg03062 says:
Played last Friday for the first time in 2 months. Gripped down on every shot. I was hitting further off the tee with my 3-wood for great accuracy, my approach shots were further, higher and all dropping on line with my target. Terry, we're on to something here. Oh, I've also worked out a ton on my core this summer, I was so much stronger over the ball at address and throughout my follow through.
9/9/09
 
mjaber says:
I started doing this about mid-way through last year, especially with my driver. When I picked my clubs up again this year, I went back to my "normal" grip position and found that my rhythm and timing stayed the same as when I had gripped down. Muscle memory, I guess. I've gotten a lot more flexibility with my shots since I now have 2 specific grip points, which gives me 2 distances with each club.
9/9/09
 
banatmfees says:
I was just reading about this very same topic on THP: thehackersparadise.com/home/?p=3692. Seems like their data suggests that shortening the shafts has minimal impact on accuracy (although empirically, i don't think that this is the case for me), while sacrificing distance. would like to know your thoughts on this.
9/9/09
 
mg03062 says:
banatmfees... I think I'm now hitting as close to the sweet spot as I ever have with this adjustment. This is why, in my opinion, my balls were jumping out higher, farther and more on line than ever before. I gaind a ton of confidence during the round and I was having more fun than I think I ever had because of it. Too bad my 2 birdies were negated by a 9 on the front and an 8 on the back. :)
9/9/09
 
Banker85 says:
i think if you are a good ball striker this wont make that big of a difference. i will try it though with my 4 and 5 iron which have been giving me fits lately and also with the 3 wood. hopefully a little more control will come of it but im not getting my hopes up.
9/9/09
 
nswynnerton says:
In a similar vein, Tom Wishon has a lot to say about off-the-shelf driver lengths being too long. I cut my Orlimar from 45.5" to 44", adjusted the swingweight, and on average hit it a lot farther. Long ago I had the pleasure of attending a clinic by Byron Nelson and watching him play. He gripped down on every iron shot that I saw and, man, did he hit it solidly!
9/10/09
 
mg03062 says:
My driver got whacked down to 43.5" a couple years back. Major difference; that was about the time I learned I could hit a driver... and I'm gripping down on that club as well. Again, not for everyone I suppose.
9/10/09
 
DRUMatthias says:
While my irons remain 1/2" longer than standard (I'm 6'2" but with long, monkey arms), I just whacked down my 3,4 (yes I have a matching 4 to my 3) & 5 woods by 1/2" from standard & my driver down to 44". My hybrid was already, if anything, a little on the short side since it came to me from my favorite club salesman who is 5'8" (it was free, BTW), so I left that alone. Anyway, I played in a tournament 2 days ago with the shorter driver (new grips on all after getting cut down) & choking down to specific points on the grips, despite the shortened length. Suffice it to say, I literally hit the best drives of my life that were ever witnessed by at least one other individual :) and I missed winning a long drive competition on one hole by only one guy, who beat me by a mere 10 yds. (my shot was a heavy draw, placed the ball almost dead on where I aimed it to go & it went about 285 yds. with my outdated, well-used Big Bertha II 454cc.
9/10/09
 
DRUMatthias says:
CONT: I later found out this guy was built like Emmit Smith in look and stature, plays at that course all the time (at $100 a round, I play there for free once a year at most!), uses the most up-to-date gear and is known to "just crush the ball" according to his teammates (they won the tourney to boot). I also pinpointed a drive that went a touch further, right around 290yds which led to my PW shot to the green, stuck it within 8' of the cup & we birdied the hardest handicap hole on the course. I'm all for shortening the clubs within reason AND gripping down (again, within reason) as a means to improve accuracy and thereby, increase distance 9 times outta 10! Give it a try on the range, then put it to the test on the course.
9/10/09
 
Bryan K says:
Where my grip is on the club is largely dependent on what kind of shot I'm trying to make. However, I think it is safe to say that I never grip up anywhere past the halfway point on any club.
9/10/09
 
ghecko90 says:
Really makes you think about iron fitting. If you are choking down all the time or shorting the clubs the lie angle should have to the adjusted. My irons are fitted. I have hit some very pure shots "gripping up" on the club. With some many inconsistencies, it is no wonder my game is inconsistent.
9/10/09
 
onedollarwed says:
It's like throwing a change-up in baseball...
If you can do it, it's invaluable. If you stick with the 2-seamer and work the location, great. What I mean is... dialing down - gripping, swing length, swing speed, swing type, etc. carries consequences. Why not just use a 4 iron, and play little punches instead of a 60 high speed lob? Why not go with a higher loft and put it back in the stance? It's a good idea to play with all of these shots and mental/physical processes, I guess. There are some Texans out there... and do you use the Texas wedge? Here in NE there are trees everywhere. Many courses are carved through forests like corridors. I played golf one time (our own secret course) on an airstrip/base in Alameda CA - all paved and flat. We would play to hit a builing like 2 miles away (using bikes and welcome mats).
I'd be curious to see which fine adjustems pros trust with a Major on the line, is it gripping down or clubbing down, etc?
9/12/09
 
BlameMe says:
Tried this today with all my clubs while having a quick 9 holes. Worked with my irons, grip down 1-2 inches, hit the ball straight. No drawing read hook or fading err slice of the ball and with a crisper hit and feel and what looked like consistent distance each time. I don't think I've hit my irons that well ever.

Did not work so well with my driver or 3 wood (more work needed on those I suppose)

Very impressed with this technique.
9/13/09
 
mg03062 says:
I am playing this Friday and am very much looking forward to a 2nd round with the above-described adjustments. As always here in southern NH... weather permitting. :)
9/15/09
 
JDoughMO says:
Sold. I played a 9 hole round gripping every club down to damn near the steel/graphite. Awesome trajectory. Solid impact. I'm sticking with this. I feel what AK is talking about when he says swinging a shorter club forces you to use your lower body more. If you try to swing the choke down with all arms it's not going to happen.
12/1/09
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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