Ryan Downes, 17, Captures Massachusetts Amateur

Ryan Downes, 17, of Longmeadow holds the Massachusetts Cup after becoming the youngest winner in the 115-year history of the Massachusetts Amateur championship at Essex County Club.

When 17-year old Longmeadow High School senior Ryan Downes graduates next June his classmates should consider giving him the “Most Likely to Succeed” award, especially since his outstanding amateur golf career has hit historic proportions.

On Friday July 14 at Essex County Club, Downes became the youngest winner ever in the prestigious 115-year history of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, defeating Matt Naumec, 6 & 5, in the championship match.

Outside the classroom it’s been a memorable year for Ryan Downes. One year after losing the 2022 Mass. Amateur final to Conner Willett at Concord CC, he showed poise, maturity and talent in a week that tests the physical and mental skills of the ultimate winner. After two days of stroke play qualifying only the top 32 enter into match-play competition. After four grueling matches the final match at steamy, humid and rain-soaked Essex County Club featured Downes vs. Naumec.

“It feels good,” said Downes in a post-round interview. “I feel like last year I was a lot more nervous. My game wasn’t as mature as it is now. The memories of playing and losing last year definitely helped me this time around. I hit some good shots under pressure.”

Runner-up Matt Naumec congratulates Ryan Downes on winning the 115th edition of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. (PHOTO: David Colt)

There were a few times in the scheduled 36-hole final match where Downes could have let self-doubt or the image of lifting the trophy distract him from his goal. Similar to last year’s final, Downes jumped out to an early lead. He was 4 up after seven holes, but the 26-year-old Naumec didn’t buckle.

“I got off to really good starts in all my matches,” said Downes, who won the 2022 Francis Ouimet Memorial, and trailed for just one hole during his five match-play bouts. “I think holes 4 through 7 were really the difference for me. They were pivotal.”

Coincidently, Matt Naumec, 26, is a friend and frequent playing partner at GreatHorse Country Club in Hampden. He played at Boston College from 2015-2019 and played a few years in the Minor League Golf Tour until seeking amateur reinstatement in 2021.

“It was a successful week,” said Naumec. “Ryan’s juts a hell of a player. I knew par wasn’t going to win it so I had to make birdies. But Ryan was just so solid. he didn’t make many mistakes.”

Downes is now the youngest but not the the only teenager to win the Massachusetts Amateur Championship. James Driscoll and Ted Adams won the title at age 18.

Ryan Downes will be a senior at Longmeadow High School in the fall. He is the 2023 AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship and also captured the 2022 MIAA Division 1 Individual title.

Bill Sangster, a life-long golf aficionado and former Sergeant in Marines, moved to Cape Cod in 1974 where he raised his family while working as educator with the Sandwich School System for 23 years. With his Falmouth home adjacent to Paul Harney’s Golf Course, Bill spent many days learning and playing the game of golf. He was a member of White Cliffs Country Club and Sandwich Hollows Country on Cape Cod. In 2018 he continued his love for the game of golf by moving to “The Villages” in Florida. He now will admit to anyone who asks that he is addicted to the game of golf! Bill can be reached at sangsterbill33@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Notify of