This year, Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater is upping its golf game. In February, Damien Hamlett joined its management team as Head Golf Professional. And the country club, which partners with Troon, the leader in premier luxury golf course management, recently approved its Master Plan. This phased project includes improvements to the pool area and clubhouse, upgraded locker rooms, golf course enhancements, housed hitting bays on the driving range and a renovated racquets pavilion with the addition of paddle, a fitness center and golf simulators.
Hamlett has been on the links since he was six, when he began playing with his dad and brother. His love for the game led him to his career as a PGA Professional. He is active in the New Jersey Section of the PGA of America and competes regularly in numerous annual tournaments and pro-ams.
Although Hamlett is a professional, he still feels the same highs and lows that come with the game as recreational golfers. “Golf is a very mental game; it is really played within the six inches between your ears,” he says. “We get frustrated. We have to find a way to relax on the golf course and not let one bad shot wreck the rest of our game.”
Hamlett says one of the biggest benefits of golf is that it gets you outdoors and your body moving. “It’s pure exercise. If you walk and play 18 holes, depending on the course, you could be walking 6.5 to 7 miles on average,” he says. “When you swing the club, you use muscles you don’t normally use.”
Hamlett advises beginning golfers take time to learn how to play the game well. “The only way that you can learn the game is to get out on the golf course. You're not going to get a full understanding of the game if you’re playing from the tee box. Play from the middle of the fairway, where you’re going to get the ball on the green so you learn the game properly,” he says.
While golf is often thought of as primarily a sport for men, Hamlett encourages wives, girlfriends and daughters to join the men they love on the links. One of his initiatives is promoting golf to women, which includes creating an advanced teaching program, from clinics to private lessons, with a social aspect. One example is Drinks on the Links, during which women can sip a specialty cocktail while learning. “If businesswomen get invited to go on a golf outing, never say no, even if you are a beginner,” he advises. “Because once you say no, you will be moved down the asking list.”
Golf, Hamlett says, can be a family affair. To get children out on the links, the country club offers a children’s clinic on Saturdays, junior golf academy in the summer and a PGA Junior League golf team, which Hamlett explains is like a baseball Little League. “It's a fun team and a social environment to help kids learn the game,” he says.
The biggest mistake he sees golfers make is trying to see how far they can hit the ball. “I’ve done this myself. After all, the object is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of strokes as possible,” he admits. “So, golfers will hit 500 yards in two shots and then it will take them six shots to get the ball in the hole from 20 yards. That's what frustrates golfers: They will hit the ball very well, but then they can’t figure out why they are not scoring well. They may be taking 50 percent of their shots from inside 50 yards. They should practice the short game: hitting inside 50 yards from the hole.”
This is where the mental aspect comes in. “I feel like golf pros should be psychologists since it’s such a mental game. In fact, the best players are the best mentally,” Hamlett says. “Over the past few years, I’ve put more emphasis on having fun. I will hit some good shots, I will hit some bad shots, but I don’t worry as much about my score as that plays into that mental aspect and can get in the way of focusing on technique. Stuff will happen. Just laugh it off and move on to the next shot.”
Find out more about Raritan Valley Country Club at rvcc1911.org.
Shop Like a Pro!
The Pro Shop at Raritan Valley Country Club has been recognized as a 2022 Platinum Award recipient by the Association of Golf Merchandisers for its customer satisfaction initiatives, creative use of space, inventory control practices, revenue-generating initiatives, promotions and visual displays. The Pro Shop features a wide variety of products such as apparel, equipment, accessories and household items. Members at RVCC enjoy an additional member discount off retail pricing on all merchandise. Some of their 2022 best sellers are featured here.
Doc Murphy reversible canvas belt
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Bushnell Pro XE Laser Rangefinder