D'Amato prepares to golf for Princeton
Updated 11:11 pm, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Joe D'Amato is about to tee off on a new chapter to his life.
The 2011 Weston graduate and golf captain heads off to Princeton University, bringing with him his clubs, textbooks and memories of an incredible high school career as he plans on playing for the Tigers.
From the moment D'Amato first picked up a golf club at the age of eight, the sport has played a major role in his life. He played at a summer camp for two years with his two older brothers, and was originally self-taught.
"Every summer since then," he said, "I have played golf almost every day."
"I would characterize myself as a very steady and patient golfer," he said. "I am not one to overpower a course, so I have to manage it well and play within my own capabilities."
The first time D'Amato qualified for the club championships was at Fairchild Wheeler in Fairfield in the summer before eighth grade. At this point, he said, "I first felt like I had what it took to compete in golf."
During his first two years of high school, D'Amato was on the team alongside his brother Bernie, the Trojans' number one golfer and a current member of the Princeton University team.
"It was always fun to have Bern on the same team as me," D'Amato said. "I felt like there was a sense of comfort having him out there, knowing that if I was not having a good day then he would be there to pick me up. Also, if both he and I were having good days, there was no way that any team in the state could beat us."
When his older brother left, he inherited his role smoothly and effectively. That next year, the younger D'Amato had arguably his best season, which included a second place individual finish at the 2010 State Championship in which he shot a one under par (on a par-72 course).
"I felt that it was my time to
"I felt it was my time to step up and lead the team in the same way Bern did," D'Amato said, "which was by having a positive attitude and leading by example."
Other individual accomplishments of D'Amato's include being the medalist at his freshman year SWC tournament and winning the Chappa Invitational, a best ball tournament, alongside his brother. He also garnered All-State and --SWC accolades a combined five times, and was named to to the Connecticut Post All-Area team his first three years of high school.
Unfortunately for D'Amato, he encountered a sickness-plagued senior season, and was unable to play enough to qualify for postseason awards.
Though his own success is enviable by golfers around the region, it is the team achievements he values most. These include winning the SWC championship in 2009 and 2011, and also winning States in 2009.
When the spotlight shines on D'Amato, he routinely ups his game.In AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) events he had a multiple top-25 finishes, and in the second round of a U.S. Amateur qualifier, he shot a 2 under 69, his personal best.
While the loss of D'Amato will be a challenge for the Trojans next season, the young man's journey to where he is today has not come without its own obstacles. Golf is a unique sport, in which things will go wrong for no apparent reason and some days giving your best will not be good enough.
"As I have matured over the years, I do not let the bad breaks affect me as much as I once did because that negative reaction can carry over into the next shot," D'Amato said. "The best players understand how important damage control is."
D'Amato will be stepping into his new role as a freshman golfer at Princeton University, where he will once again be teammates with his brother. He hopes to play in tournaments for Princeton by being one of the team's top five players, and wants the opportunity to help the Tigers win the Ivy League title after a fifth-place showing this year.
The collegiate level of play will present him with a new challenge, but he strives to do what he does best in his quest to play, which is to keep a positive attitude, and give it everything he has.
Because for Joe D'Amato, at the end of the day, that's just par for the course.