When you think about hitting shots with your driver, you probably think about one thing right away – distance.

What is the Best Option for Better Driver Accuracy?

All golfers love to hit long drives off the tee, and it is easy to understand why. For one thing, hitting a long drive can give you an advantage on that particular hole, since you will be closer to the target than if you had hit a shorter drive. In addition to the functional advantage of placing your ball farther down the fairway, hitting long drives is simply fun. You will be able to impress your friends and revel in the sight of the ball soaring high over the middle of the fairway before coming back to earth. While there is certainly more to golf than just long drives, there is no doubt that these types of shots are some of the most enjoyable in the game.

With all of that said, we aren’t going to be talking about distance in this article. Rather, we are going to be talking about accuracy. You see, those long drives are only useful if they actually land in the fairway. It does no good at all to blast a long drive if the ball veers off in an unexpected direction. Wayward drives are one of the fastest ways to add strokes to your score. Good golfers know that while distance is valuable, it is accuracy off the tee which should be the top priority.

One of the ways you may be able to improve your accuracy is to grip down on the driver before making your swing. In this article, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of this method, and we will provide some tips on how you can test it out for yourself. Of course, we aren’t suggesting that you should choke down on every single driver shot you hit, as that would limit your ability to produce long drives. Rather, you should think about choosing your spots carefully, based on the design of the course you are playing. Facing a narrow fairway on a relatively short hole? Choke down a bit and favor accuracy. Find yourself on the tee of a long, wide par five? Keep your hands up at the top of the grip and let it rip. By thinking strategically on each tee, you can optimize your plan for the circumstances.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

The Benefits of Gripping Down on the Driver

The Benefits of Gripping Down on the Driver

It would be silly, of course, to grip down on your driver if you weren’t going to benefit in any meaningful way. Before you make any change in your game, you need to be sure that the change is going to improve something about your performance. Only when the benefits of making a change outweigh the drawbacks should you go ahead with that adjustment.

The list below highlights a few of the ways in which you may benefit by gripping down on your driver. You may not experience all of these benefits in your own game, however, so it will be important to experiment for yourself in practice before trying this on the course.

  • Hit more fairways. As you certainly gathered from the title of this article, the main way you stand to benefit from gripping down on the driver is by hitting more fairways. Placing the ball in the fairway is one of the most important things you can do as a golfer. The modern game has become more and more focused on raw distance, but accuracy is still a vital piece of the puzzle when trying to put together a low score. Why should you expect to be more accurate when you grip down? There are two main reasons. First, you are going to slightly reduce your swing speed when gripping down on the club, and a slower swing is less likely to send the ball way off line. Additionally, by using what is effectively a shorter club, you will have an easier time finding the sweet spot at impact. There is less distance between your hands and the ball, meaning you don’t have to be quite as precise in order to make good contact. Neither of these benefits guarantees a good outcome, of course, as you still have to make a quality swing. However, by choking down on the driver a bit, you do swing the odds of a good shot slightly further in your favor.
  • Stay out of the wind. Another good reason to choke down on the driver is to keep the ball out of the wind. This is obviously beneficial when hitting a tee shot into the wind, but it is also helpful when playing in a difficult cross wind that may blow your ball off target. The ball should fly lower when you grip down on the driver, thanks to the reduced swing speed we mentioned above. With less speed on the ball, and less backspin, the trajectory you produce will almost certainly be lower than your usual flight. Too many amateur golfers are one-dimensional in terms of the ball flights they can produce, and that limitation becomes a big problem when conditions get difficult. If you know how to hit controlled drives by choking down on the driver, you will have a good option available when the wind picks up.
  • Produce a new shape. Speaking of adding dimensions to your game off the tee, you might develop a new shot shape when you choke down on the driver. For instance, if you are a player who almost always hit a fade off the tee, you may find that it’s easier to turn the ball over for a draw when you move your hands down the grip. So, not only would you be able to use this adjustment for accuracy purposes, but you’d also be able to use it when the shape of the course asks for a certain flight. It’s hard to say exactly how choking down on the club is going to impact your ball flight, so be sure to put in plenty of practice time on the range.
  • Deal with pressure. When you think about pressure on the golf course, you probably think first about short shots. It tends to be putts and chips that are most severely impacted by the presence of pressure. With that said, you can also have your driver performance negatively impacted when you are nervous. If you are facing an important tee shot and you know that you’re nervous, think about choking down a bit just to make the shot a little easier. This will limit your distance potential to a degree, but that is a worthwhile trade if it means you are able to hit a good drive. All golfers need to have a few strategies available to deal with pressure, and this is a good one.

Learning how to grip down on your driver is a valuable step to take in your game. While you aren’t going to use this method all the time, it will be nice to know that you can turn to this option in certain situations. Many amateur golfers struggle to even keep the ball in play off the tee from hole to hole, so improving your accuracy with this simple adjustment may put you ahead of the competition at your local club.

The Drawbacks

The Drawbacks

It would be a mistake to highlight all the benefits of choking down on the driver without mentioning the limitations of this method. You need to understand the drawbacks in order to properly gain perspective on when this shot should be used, and when it should be kept in the bag. Picking the right shot for the right situation is one of your most important jobs as a golfer, and the ability to do that successfully comes down to understanding each shot in your arsenal.

Let’s take a moment to look at a few potential drawbacks of moving your hands down the grip before making a driver swing.

  • It’s an adjustment. Consistency is key in golf. If you asked nearly any golfer what he or she would like to improve in their golf game, the answer would come back ‘consistency’ more often than not. The more things can stay the same in your game, the more you will improve on your ability to execute properly. So, with that said, it should be easy to understand why adding too many adjustments to your game can be a bad thing. Even something as simple as moving your hands down the driver grip is going to cause the club to feel different during the swing. This is why it is so important to have a good reason for making the change. If you feel that you will benefit in a very specific way from making this adjustment, it will be worth it to proceed. But, you should only go in this direction when you have a clear reason for doing so. Otherwise, sticking with your standard technique is the right plan.
  • The distance sacrifice. There is no way to get around it – if you choke down on the grip of your driver, you will almost certainly hit the ball shorter off the tee. And, if you hit a shorter drive, you are going to leave yourself with a longer approach. For example, let’s imagine you are playing a 400-yard par four. These days, 400-yard par fours are relatively common, even if you aren’t playing from the back tees. For the purposes of this example, we will say that you can normally hit your driver 240-yards, when using the entire club. However, when you choke down, that distance drops to 220. Instead of leaving yourself with a 160-yard approach, you now have to play into the green from 180 yards away. That’s a big difference, and it likely means you will need to use two additional clubs – perhaps using a four iron instead of a six iron to hit the approach. Sacrificing distance for accuracy can certainly be the right choice in some situations, but you have to think clearly about the hole you are playing before moving forward.
  • Another thing to practice. As a golfer, you have a lot to work on in your game – and limited time to do the work. For starters, you need to work on your standard swing, your putting stroke, your chipping and pitching technique, your bunker play, and more. In addition to all of those ‘basic’ skills, you also need to make time in your practice sessions for any specialty shots that you want to have available on the course. It wouldn’t be a good idea to choke down on your driver out on the course if you haven’t first worked on it in practice, so you’ll have to make time for this shot as part of your routine. Be sure to plan out your practice sessions carefully so you can touch on as many different shots as possible in the time you have available.

There is still a lot to like ab out gripping down on the driver, but we aren’t pretending that this shot is perfect. You do need to consider the drawbacks to using this method, including the three points listed above.

Putting It into Action

Putting It into Action

If you decide to try this shot out for yourself during an upcoming practice session, you will need to have a plan. While this is a relatively simple swing adjustment – compared to some of the other adjustments you can make in golf – it is still going to take some time to make it work properly in your game. As you get started with this shot, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Stand a bit closer. This one might be obvious, but it needs to be included nonetheless. When you choke down on the grip of the driver – or any club, for that matter – you are going to shorten the effective length of the club. In other words, it is going to feel like you are swinging a shorter club, since the end of the shaft is now on the other side of your hands. So, in order to make up for the fact that the club is now effectively shorter, you will want to stand a bit closer to the ball at address. This shouldn’t be a dramatic change – even just an inch or two should be enough to put you in a comfortable spot. As you work out the details of this shot on the range, pay attention to your stance and experiment with different positions until you find one that feels good.
  • Pay attention to your tempo. One of the potential problems with this type of shot is that you may feel a bit rushed during your swing. The club is going to feel lighter than normal, and the overall arc of the swing will be shorter. In the end, you may wind up with a rushed tempo and an awkward move through the ball. Obviously, that is not the ideal outcome. While you should always be paying attention to your tempo while on the course, it is particularly important to focus on tempo when choking down on your driver (or any other club). Give yourself plenty of time to make a full turn away from the ball and make a smooth transition into the downswing. Even if you work on this key on the driving range, remember to give it your full attention to the course as well. It is easier to swing with a good tempo on the range than it is on the course, since you will likely be a little nervous or anxious when hitting your shots during an actual round.
  • Get all the way through to the finish. When you are hitting a shot where you have choked down on the grip, you are probably thinking first and foremost about accuracy rather than distance. That is a smart thing to do, but don’t let that line of thinking impact your technique too severely. In other words, don’t cut your swing short just because you are trying to hit the fairway. Even when gripping down on the driver, you still want to swing all the way through to a full, balanced finished. When the swing is complete, your chest should be facing the target and you should be balanced with most of your weight on your left leg. If you notice that you tend to give up on these swings a little early, make it a point to get all the way to your normal finish position in order to give yourself a better chance at success.
  • It’s never easy to learn a new shot in this game. While the swing you need to make in order to hit your driver while gripping down is not that much different than your normal swing, it will feel awkward at first. Be patient with yourself and watch for signs that you are getting more and more comfortable with the technique required to produce good shots.

    The Mental Game

    The Mental Game

    The value of the mental game in golf is vastly underestimated by most golfers. If you are going to play at a high level in golf, you need to think clearly about what you are doing on the course. That’s just how it works. You can’t play good golf without hitting good shots, and you can’t hit good shots without making good decisions. The golfers you see playing for millions of dollars on television did not make it to that point on raw talent alone. They need to have the talent to hit great shots, but they also need to have the decision-making abilities to go with that talent.

    Let’s finish up this article by touching on a few mental game tips that relate to gripping down on your driver.

    • You need 100% commitment. This one is important. Before you swing the club, you need to be fully committed to the shot at hand. That is true for all of your shots, and it applies here as well. When you decide that you are going to choke down on your driver for a particular tee shot, you need to be fully committed to that choice. If there is any doubt still lingering in the back of your mind, take another moment to think it over and decide how to move forward. Second thoughts are a sure way to cause poor shots, so don’t let self-doubt get in the way of producing good results.
    • Be realistic. You can’t have everything in golf. If you decide that you are going to choke down in order to improve your accuracy on a given shot, that decision means you are going to sacrifice some distance – and you need to be okay with that sacrifice. If you decide that you are going to choke down but then swing extra hard in the hopes of still hitting a long shot, you’ll just be getting in your own way.
    • Lean on comfortable shots in tight situations. When the pressure is really on, you want to be hitting shots that you know you can trust. If you have built up your belief in the gripped-down driver shot, then feel free to put it into action. If not, stick with a standard drive. While it is true that the choked down driver can help you under pressure, that will only be true if you have enough belief in the shot to pull it off properly.

    Learning how to grip down on your driver is an important skill and one which can help you in a variety of situations on the golf course. We hope the discussion offered in this article will help you add this shot to your repertoire in the near future. Good luck!