Ryan Downes Makes History As Youngest Winner Of The Massachusetts Amateur Championship - MASSGOLF

Longmeadow High School’s Ryan Downes, 17, Wins The 115th Massachusetts Amateur Championship At Essex County Club

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2023

MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA, Massachusetts – There have been countless storied champions who won the Massachusetts Amateur Championship early in life. Out of all of them, Longmeadow native Ryan Downes can now officially say he’s the youngest one to win it.

Ever since coming up short in last year’s final match at Concord Country Club, the 17-year-old Vanderbilt University commit has never wavered in his pursuit of getting another shot at winning the title. With his 6&5 victory Friday over his friend and longtime clubmate Matthew Naumec, of Wilbraham, in the 36-hole final match at Essex County Club, the young phenom has officially hoisted the Massachusetts Cup before even receiving his high school diploma.

Prior to Friday, James Driscoll (1996) and Ted Adams (1939) were the youngest to win, doing so at age 18. Downes, whose accolades include a Mass Golf Christopher Cutler Rich Junior Player of the Year Award (2022), won’t become a legal adult until this Halloween.

With the match tied through the first 21 holes, Downes kicked it into high gear. He won five of the next seven holes, pumping his fist as his 12-foot, sliding birdie putt dropped into the cup on the 10th green giving him a commanding 5-up lead and essentially making the title his to lose.

“I feel kind of speechless in a way, especially with how this week started on Monday. I didn’t get off to a great start my first few holes,” said Downes, who also became the first member of GreatHorse to win the Mass Amateur title. “To come full circle and become the champion…I’m just extremely excited.”

Online: Championship Central | Match Play ScoresPhoto Gallery (David Colt) | Past Champions


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While Downes held the edge with his putting, it was his iron play that set him apart from Naumec. Even if his drive wasn’t in A-position, he often left himself with putts inside of 10 feet.

When he needed to turn the tide, he did, especially after his early 4-up lead was evaporated to all even early in the second half with Naumec. Unlike last year, this time he was not going to hand over the lead. Immediately after losing on hole 3 (the 21st of the match), Downes answered with a crisp 4-iron on the par-3 4th (233 yards) to set up the birdie putt that gave him the lead the rest of the way. Downes also stuffed his approach into the 5th hole with his second shot retiring around 5 feet from the hole, getting him to 2-up.

“It was a perfect 4 iron for me,” said Downes, who made eight birdies in the final match. “All I had to do is make a great swing, and it just happened to settle about 8 to 10 feet, and I made it, and I just had momentum from there on out.”

It wasn’t exactly a beeline to the title as Downes and Naumec were called off the course after playing the 6th hole (24th total) due to lightning in the area. Despite the 45-minute break, Downes stepped right back up to the downhill par-3 7th. Playing up at about 120 yards, he almost aced it the first time. Downes hit another dart into the green and knocked it home to build the lead back to 3-up. After his birdie putt fell on the 10th, just about everybody at Essex could feel that this was meant to be Downes’ day.

“That’s when the nerves started to kick up a bit,” Downes said of his birdie putt on the 10th. “I have to thank my caddie Cole Banning for really going through that read. I probably wouldn’t have played enough break if it wasn’t for him. And I happened to play just enough to catch the right side.”


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On Thursday, Downes admitted that the stretch of holes from 10-14 hadn’t been among his strongest. He had yet to make birdie on hole 13 and during match play on Wednesday and Thursday lost more holes than he won in that section of the course. But after a massive birdie on the 10th, he won the 12th to bring the match to dormie, and Downes clinched the title after lag putting his birdie putt to two feet.

“He’s one of my favorite people to play with,” Downes said of Naumec. “He’s a great guy. He’s so respectful out there, and I have the utmost respect for him. It was just a really enjoyable experience.”

It wasn’t the finish Matthew Naumec (Framingham Country Club) wanted, but the former professional was gracious in his defeat. He never quit, even after hooking his drive into the penalty area on the final hole. He hit an excellent recovery shot that rolled into the rough behind the green, followed by a solid chip, to make Downes have to close it out by executing a challenging putt.

“It was a phenomenal week,” said Naumec, a 26-year-old Boston College graduate. “I didn’t even have a hotel room for yesterday, so I had to make a quick reservation for it. It exceeded my expectations. This stuff is a pleasure to be included and play in so all smiles here. I’m really happy with how I hit the ball. It’s just been amazing week. It’s been fun.”

Friday was the first time Naumec played in the Mass Amateur final match, previously making the semifinals back in 2015 when he was a highly-touted recruit. He went on to have a successful collegiate experience, followed by a pro career that included a 2019 appearance in the U.S. Open. Since regaining his amateur status last year, Naumec has come excruciatingly close to winning both the Mass Open and Mass Amateur.

The final match just proved to be too much of a deficit to climb out of, especially down the stretch.

“It was kind of a pattern to my matches that I was getting down early,” Naumec said. “I was never up quick in a match. I wasn’t afraid that I would have enough time per se. It was nice to get all the way down to even at one point and then finish the first round 2-down. I knew that after lunch I would have a good chance, and I came out here and was able to get down to even. It’s tough to battle back when you only have to make birdies.”

“I just tip my cap to Ryan. He’s just a great golfer,” Naumec added.

Expect to see Downes and Naumec contend again next year and beyond, as Framingham Country Club and GreatHorse are set to host the Mass Amateur in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

“I’m super excited, both are great tracks,” Naumec said. “I told Ryan afterwards that maybe third time’s a charm so if we get paired up next year, I’m looking forward to getting another swing at bat there. Hopefully we meet again in the finals next year.”



Hometown: Longmeadow, MA
Instagram: @ryandownes_golf


  • First Mass Amateur champion to play out of GreatHorse (Hampden, MA)
  • Verbally committed to Vanderbilt University
  • Entering his senior year at Longmeadow High School
  • Played in the 2022 Mass Amateur final match against Conner Willett (lost 4&2)
  • Other Wins: 2022 Ouimet Memorial Tournament; 2023 AJGA Justin Thomas Junior Championship

Stroke Play: 71-70–141 (+1)
R32: Def. Cael Kohan, 1-up
R16: Def. Ethan Whitney, 19 holes
Quarterfinals: Def. Joey Lenane, 4&3
Semifinals: Def. Joe Harney, 4&2
36-Hole Final: Def. Matthew Naumec, 6&5


Check out the replay of the final match of the 115th Massachusetts Amateur Championship. Kudos to Stephen Hanjack, Mass Golf’s Director of Marketing & Communications, for the play-by-play of each hole, and to Mass Golf’s USGA Boatwright Intern Carter Nuñez for the color commentary.

To view the first 18 Holes: CLICK HERE

To view holes 19-24: CLICK HERE

To view holes 25-31: CLICK HERE



Here are some other tidbits from the final day at the Massachusetts Amateur Championship: 

  • Downes receives the Massachusetts Cup, a 10-year exemption into the Mass Amateur, plus exemptions to several Mass Golf championships he is eligible to enter.
  • The 2024 Mass Amateur will take place at Framingham Country Club for the first time in its history. The club most recently hosted the 2022 Massachusetts Senior Amateur, the 2020 Ouimet Memorial Tournament, and the 2018 Massachusetts Girls’ Junior Amateur. GreatHorse will then host in 2025.
  • Before Downes’ victory, both Ted Adams (1939) and James Driscoll (1996) won the Mass Amateur at age 18. Driscoll won the 1996 title at Myopia Hunt Club, right down the road from Essex County Club.
  • Downes follows in the same path as Flynt Lincoln, who in 1992 lost the final match but returned next year to win it at Essex.
  • Before Downes, the last Mass Amateur winner from Western Massachusetts was East Longmeadow’s John Kelly, who won at Kernwood Country Club in 2014.


  • I found a swing thought a couple of weeks ago even when I wasn’t playing great, and I just felt like I had to trust it. Leading up to the event, I was swinging really, really well. I was able to hit a draw and a fade which I haven’t been able to do for quite some time. This week I had to trust myself, which I feel like I did. — Ryan Downes on how he was able to prepare for success in the Mass Amateur.
  • I felt pretty good standing on the tee after the rain delay. We had a good number. I hit it close earlier, hit it close again, and I feel like my swing held up well down the stretch. — Ryan Downes on staying focused after the weather delay.
  • I think it was nice. I felt like we both got ourselves back into our rhythm. That par-3 he birdied twice [7th] he probably had an aggregate of 7 feet, so that was tough. I had some good shots in there, the putts just didn’t fall. That was definitely a turning point. — Matthew Naumec on how the weather delay impacted him.
  • The energy was great. To be out here not in the office and just enjoy your time walking around a beautiful golf course, you just take it all in. We got a great crowd today. That was fun to be back in front of people in competition like that. It’s something that you definitely chase and dream about in these situations, so it’s fun to get back into that environment. — Matthew Naumec on embracing the grind of playing for five straight days of competition.


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