Get a grip! It is time to review your fundamentals, a end-of-summer tuneup to get you ready for fall golf. The next few weeks I’ll cover in depth the basic fundamentals of swinging a golf club. This week I start with the grip. I like to check my self periodically to make sure all is in balance. I have always preached that “85 percent of hitting a golf shot is fundamentals and 85 percent of the fundamentals is the grip” Your grip is the only connection between you and the club and it needs to be balanced in order to work properly. What I mean by balanced is that when you grip the club, you should then be able to hinge your wrists freely over your shoulders without having the grip turn in your hands. When you hold the club in front of you, the toe of the club will point to the sky and the club should feel balanced. The best way to achieve a balanced grip is to lay the club on your shoulder, letting the club head fall to its balanced position (toe down). Then grasp the grip in your fingers with the thumbs aligned down the shaft and unhinge your wrist so that the club is now in front of you with the toe of the club pointing to the sky. You may have to adjust the club slightly to achieve complete balance and comfort. Now swing the club or move it around and you shouldn’t feel any twisting of the shaft. If you do, you need to re-grip and feel a new balance position. Weaker or stronger are two words you will hear in a dialogue about the grip — this is not how hard you squeeze the club but the position of the hands on the grip. A weak grip (when the target side hand is turned open to the target) will not allow the club to release through the hitting area usually producing the dreaded slice. Too strong of a grip will cause the hands to work too much through the ball and will promote a hook. There will be a position of the hands between these two that will allow for a straight shot and if you find this position, you will have won the battle of the grip. A good comprehension of a stronger or weaker position on the grip is important to control the flight of the ball. I like to have my students understand that improper grip pressure at the start of the swing is the No. 1 cause for poor golf shots. You must have a firm but not squeezing grip pressure at the start of every swing. My best analogy for grip pressure at the start of the swing is to imagine that you are holding a tube of toothpaste and trying not to squeeze it out of the tube, firm but not squeezing. Your grip pressure will gradually increase the longer the club swings back, until at the end of your back swing your pressure will be appropriate for the shot at hand. It should happen naturally without conscious effort. Do not try to keep a constant grip pressure throughout the swing because, to me at least, it seems impossible. The only stroke where we try to keep grip pressure constant is the putting stroke. Work with the above suggestions on a proper grip and I promise that you will make better golf shots and improve your golf game. Next week we’re discussing aim for straighter shots.