Choke Up/Choke Down in Golf

Angel Cabrera of Argentina shows his anger when missing a putt on the 17th green
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In golf, "choke" usually refers to a bad shot caused by a golfer's inability to handle the pressure of the moment, but can also refer to the position of a golfer's hands on the handle of a golf club.

Choke Up/Choke Down

In that sense, the term used will be "choke down" or "choke up." A golfer who chokes down (or up - golfers tend to use the terms interchangeably) on the club will move his hands toward the bottom of the grip (closer to the bare shaft). This might be done for one of several reasons: Doing so increases the golfer's control of the club during the swing, and it also takes some distance off the club being used. If a golfer is at yardage that is too long for his 8-iron but too short for his 7-iron, he might choke down/choke up on the 7-iron.

A golfer might choke down on a driver to increase his control during the swing, hoping to improve accuracy. Or it might be necessary to choke down due to the golfer's stance if the ball is above his feet.

(In many other contexts, "choking up" and "choking down" have different meanings - choking up means moving one's hands away from the butt end of what is being gripped; choking down means moving the hands toward the butt end. Golfers rarely, if ever, have reason to move their hands closer to the butt end of the grip because most golfers already place their hands at or near the top of the grip. Therefore, most golfers use "choke up" and "choke down" in ways that carry the same meaning.)

However, the term "choke" when used by itself in golf typically carries the first meaning mentioned above: to misplay a stroke due to nerves brought on by the pressure of the moment; or, more generally, to play poorly in a round or over the latter portion of a round when the golfer was in position to win.

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  • "Some golf fans believe Phil Mickelson choked away a win at the 2006 U.S. Open."
  • "If you choke down on the driver a little bit, you'll increase your odds of hitting the fairway."