Preview: 116th Massachusetts Amateur Championship - MASSGOLF

Framingham Country Club To Host State Amateur Championship for the First Time

By Steve Derderian

FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts (July 5, 2024) – Six years ago, Framingham became the newest city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Tucked along Route 9, the main artery through the bustling MetroWest region, is a historic and pristine golf club where many of the state’s best players have wandered these grounds. Now, the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, one of the state’s most storied and competitive golf tournaments, has arrived at Framingham for the first time in the club’s 122-year history.

Framingham has been the home of several state champions over the years, including Ray Wright and John Salamone, who won the Mass Amateur in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Honorary member Bill Mallon won consecutive titles in 1973 and 1974. This year features five Framingham players, including 2023 runner-up Matthew Naumec.

The competition begins with 18 holes of stroke play on Monday, July 8, and Tuesday, July 9, to determine the 32 match play spots. First- and second-round matches will take place July 10, followed by the quarterfinals and semifinals on July 11. It will conclude with the 36-hole championship match on July 12 to determine the winner of the Massachusetts Cup.

For the first time this year, too, the winner of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship will receive a full exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship. In 2025, the exempt player will also move directly to Final Qualifying, bypassing the Local Qualifying stage. Because the field strength reaches certain ranking criteria, all semifinalists (final four) in the 2024 Massachusetts Amateur will also be exempt from Local Qualifying in 2025.

“This one is huge for us,” said Graham Cunningham, Framingham’s head golf professional since 2009. “Internally, we have a lot of good players here, so this event is near and dear to their hearts, and we’ve had players who have won it. We couldn’t be happier to have this.”

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Live Scoring will be available during all rounds. Spectators are encouraged to attend, and admission throughout the event is FREE OF CHARGE. Additional food & beverage service (including bar service) will be available to all players, caddies, and spectators.

Framingham Country Club is hosting the Mass Amateur Championship for the first time in its 122-year history. (Mass Golf)

Founded in 1902, Framingham Country Club has slowly expanded over time. Its original nine holes stretch out and back along a thin pocket of land, climbing about 70 feet from tee to green on the first hole and the same elevation down on the 9th. The back nine was added across the street about 50 years ago and features more varied elevation changes, along with a creek running along the road that comes into play, especially on the final hole.

The original 1902 course was a 9-hole, 2,300-yard layout designed by Arthur C. Blanchard, with redesigns from Donald Ross, Orrin Smith, and Geoffrey Cornish. William Mitchell designed the back nine in the 1960s. The entire course features strategic bunkering, tree-lined fairways, and a layout that harmonizes with the natural landscape of the area.

Similar to many classic New England courses, Framingham Country Club doesn’t rely on length as the primary challenge. Instead, it’s the subtle slopes in the greens that demand precision in shot placement and putting accuracy. This is particularly evident on the par-3s, where most shots are from elevated tees to greens with severely sloped surfaces that can redirect the ball off the green.

Cunningham said driver might not be the choice of longer hitters on the tighter front nine, but on the back, the course opens up more options off the tee.

“In my mind, it’s always been it’s always been a second shot golf course, in the sense that the player that has really good distance control that can hit it on the fat part of greens is going to have pretty good results here,” Cunningham said.

The 8th green is situated at the base of about a 50 foot drop from the tee. (Mass Golf)

Cunningham described holes 14-16 as Framingham’s version of Amen Corner — three grueling par-4s at the summit of the back-nine that can make or break a round and will likely yield some decisive moments in match play. Since hosting the Mass Senior Amateur in 2022, the club has made some changes to that stretch.

With the debut of a rebuilt 14th green last year, the surface now boasts a more pronounced pitch from back to front and offers more accessible pin locations. The 16th, often considered the course’s toughest hole, features a downhill, dogleg left tee shot. A new tee box to the right has straightened the hole’s trajectory, but many will still face the challenge of an iron approach to a well-bunkered green with a large false front.

WATCH: Hole-By-Hole Flyovers at Framingham CC

Out of more than 1,100 entries accepted, 144 advanced to the Championship Proper, including a handful of exempt players. The 32 players who made match play last year at Essex County Club are among those who earned full exemptions.

Once again, the Mass Amateur field brings out several captivating storylines. Molly Smith returns this year after becoming the first woman to compete in the Mass Amateur in 2023, missing the cut by just four strokes at Essex County Club. Since joining the University of Central Florida golf squad this past fall, Smith set the Mercedes-Benz Intercollegiate tournament scoring record (-12) to earn her first college win and was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Another player who has been generating considerable buzz is New England Patriots punter Bryce Baringer. Like Tom Brady, Baringer was a sixth-round pick in the NFL Draft and is also a skilled golfer. Playing out of TPC Boston, Baringer will be making his debut in a state amateur championship after several attempts to qualify in his home state of Michigan.

Nine past champions are playing, including last year’s winner Ryan Downes, a Vanderbilt commit who hopes to round out his junior career by winning back-to-back titles. Downes went head-to-head with Framingham member Matthew Naumec, who joined the club in recent years after regaining his amateur status. Naumec won’t be alone in representing Framingham, as Jesse Zorfas, Kyle Tibbetts, Victor Galvani, and Lawrence Dore III will also be competing.

Georgetown’s Conner Willett, who defeated Downes in the 2022 championship match at Concord, will also look to make another run at the title.

The field also includes a number of past champions, each with their own impressive records. Among them are Steve Tasho (Thorny Lea Golf Club) who won in 1981 and 1985; Bill Drohen (Brookmeadow Country Club) who claimed victory in 2009; Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Club), who stands as the event’s most recent repeat champion (2012 & 2013); John Kelly (Twin Hills Country Club) who won in 2014; Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner Golf Club) who took the title in 2015 and won the Mass Junior Amateur at Framingham in 2009; Matt Parziale (Thorny Lea Golf Club) who won both the Mass Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 2017; and Patrick Frodigh (Dedham Country & Polo Club), who won in 2018 at Boston’s George Wright Golf Course and William J. Devine Golf Course.

Matthew Naumec will look to make it back to the final match at his home course this year. (David Colt, file)

Mass Golf will be adding articles, videos, and other content before and during the Mass Amateur on the Mass Golf Championship Central page.


A collection of 18 notable players in the 116th Massachusetts Amateur Championship:

BRYCE BARINGER, 25, a Wrentham resident and member of TPC Boston, is the starting punter for the New England Patriots. Baringer, a former standout high school golfer in Michigan, attended Michigan State and was drafted by the Patriots in April 2023. He earned medalist honors by shooting 1-under 69 in the Stockbridge Golf Club qualifier on June 18.

JOHN BRODERICK, 19, a Wellesley native and member of Dedham Country and Polo Club, was medalist at last year’s Mass Amateur, shooting a course record 62 at Essex County Club in the final round of stroke play. Broderick has also won the 2020 New England Amateur (runner-up in 2023) and the 2022 Massachusetts Junior Amateur Championship. In his first season at Vanderbilt, Broderick earned SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors.

ANDREW DIRAMIO, 41, a Boston resident and member of North Hill Country Club, won the Mass Four-Ball Championship with Nick Maccario earlier this year at The Club at New Seabury. DiRamio, who has qualified for match play each of the past four years, has gained notoriety in recent years for his one-armed putting stroke.

RYAN DOWNES, 18, a Longmeadow native and member at GreatHorse, made history in 2023 by becoming the youngest-ever winner of the Mass Amateur Championship. He also won his second straight Ouimet Memorial Tournament and was a semifinalist in the Mass Junior Amateur. The incoming first year at Vanderbilt University finished T12 in this year’s Mass Open, closing with a round of 1-under 69, and also qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. In the fall, Downes won the MIAA Division I state title at his home course. 

JOE HARNEY, 32, a West Roxbury native and member of Charles River Country Club, made a tremendous run to the Mass Amateur semifinals last year and also made it into match play in the 2023 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. Harney was also runner-up in the Norfolk County Classic with consecutive rounds of 68 at Presidents Golf Course.

WESTON JONES, 20, a Sudbury native and member at Charter Oak Country Club, is a standout for the Rutgers University men’s golf team. Jones made the quarterfinals in the Mass Amateur in 2020 and 2021 and advanced to the Round of 16 last year. He has found a string of success so far this year, finishing runner-up in the Worcester County Amateur (rounds of 68-69), third in the 2024 Hornblower Memorial Tournament (final round 66), and making it through to U.S. Amateur Final Qualifying. 

AARAV LAVU, 15, a Wellesley native and member of Blue Hill Country Club, is the youngest player in the field. Lavu won the 2022 Massachusetts Young Golfers’ Amateur Championship by shooting a spectacular round of 58. He also competed in the 2023 Drive, Chip, and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club.

JOEY LENANE, 20, a Dedham native and member of George Wright Golf Course, is the reigning New England Amateur champion and winner of the 2024 Norfolk Country Classic. Lenane, who recently completed his second year at North Carolina State, also competed in U.S. Open Final Qualifying and the Northeast Amateur.

NICK MCLAUGHLIN, 30, an Amesbury resident and member of Far Corner Golf Club, is a former University of Virginia standout and the 2015 Mass Amateur champion. McLaughlin has experience at Framingham, having won the 2009 Mass Junior Amateur while playing in the Pre-Junior Division.

MATTHEW NAUMEC, 27, a member of Framingham Country Club, advanced to the final match against Ryan Downes last year. In the process, he defeated Brendan Hester and Jack Boulger, who have since turned pro, as well as Rutgers’ Weston Jones and Vanderbilt’s John Broderick. Naumec, a former Boston College standout, played in the 2019 U.S. Open. He is also the most recent Framingham men’s club champion.

MATT PARZIALE, 37, a Brockton native and member of Thorny Lea Golf Club, is among nine previous Mass Amateur champions in the field. The eight-time Mass Golf Player of the Year honoree won the championship in 2017 and has advanced to the Round of 16 eight of the past 10 years, including the 2021 championship match. Parziale’s resume also includes appearances in the 2018 and 2019 U.S. Open Championships after earning exemptions by winning the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

MOLLY SMITH, 19, a Westford native and member of Vesper Country Club, is competing in the Mass Amateur again, one year after becoming the first female golfer to compete in the championship. Smith is fresh off her first year at the University of Central Florida, where she posted four top-5 finishes, including a victory in the Merecedes-Benz Intercollegiate. Smith competed in the final match of the 2023 Mass Women’s Amateur Championship.

RICKY STIMETS, 33, an Osterville native and member of Worcester Country Club, is Mass Golf’s reigning Richard D. Haskell Player of the Year award winner. Stimets has finished in the top five in stroke play each of the past four years, making it to the Round of 16 last year. He earned his first Mass Golf championship victory at Willowbend, winning the Mass Mid-Amateur by a whopping 13 strokes. He also won the 2024 Brockton City Four-Ball with Kevin Blaser, as the pair finished 22-under par.

JAKE SHUMAN, 28, a Boston resident and member of Blue Hill Country Club, won the 2024 Hornblower Memorial Tournament at Plymouth Country Club. The former Duke University standout, who regained his amateur status in 2022, has made his mark in past Mass Amateur appearances. He made the semifinals in 2014 at Kernwood Country Club and tied for the stroke play title in 2016 after setting a Taconic Golf Club course record with a 64.

KYLE TIBBETTS, 36, a Boston resident and member of Framingham Country Club, has made it to the Round of 16 in three of his last four attempts. Tibbetts, who has won three club championships at Framingham, earned the third seed in match play in 2021 and played in the 2022 U.S. Four-Ball Championship with Brandon Parker.

CONNER WILLETT, 21, a Wellesley native and member of Charles River Country Club, won the 2022 Mass Amateur championship and currently attends Georgetown University. Willett’s game seems to be rounding into form as he placed near the top of the field in U.S. Amateur Local Qualifying in New York and will play in Final Qualifying on July 22 at Concord Country Club, where he won the 2022 Mass Amateur.

CJ WINCHENBAUGH, 18, a Weston native and member of Oyster Harbors Club, recently qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and was second low amateur in this year’s Mass Open Championship. Last year, he made the quarterfinals of the Mass Amateur and was a finalist in the Mass Junior Amateur.

ETHAN WHITNEY, 21, a Leominster native and member of Oak Hill Country Club, has made it to match play three of the past four years in the Mass Amateur. In the past two years, the Temple University standout has competed against the eventual champion. Last year, he went head-to-head with Downes in an epic match that ended in 19 holes, and in 2022, he caddied for his best friend Conner Willett after Willett beat him in the Round of 16.

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