3 Things To Watch: 116th Mass Amateur, Round 1 - MASSGOLF

An Exciting Day Ahead For Round 1 Of Mass Amateur At Framingham CC

By Steve Derderian

FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts (July 8, 2024) — It’s been a long time coming, but the Massachusetts Amateur Championship has finally arrived at Framingham Country Club. Here in MetroWest Boston, 144 of the state’s best amateur golfers will compete this week for their spot in history as they try to etch their names on the Massachusetts Cup, adorned with names of legends such as Francis Ouimet, Eddie Lowery, Fred Wright, Ted Bishop, Fan Quinn, Jim Salinetti, and Rob Oppenheim, Frank Vana, Jr. to name a few.

Here are three things to keep an eye on as the first 18 holes of stroke play take place on Monday.

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An early-morning look at the 18th hole at Framingham Country Club. (David Colt)

The First Am At The ‘Ham

Crisp, clear skies have greeted the players for the first-ever Massachusetts Amateur Championship played on the grounds of Framingham Country Club (founded 1902).

Until the 1960s, Framingham was a nine-hole track sandwiched between a stretch of residential streets. The course has been shifted over time with the construction of Route 9. William Mitchell added nine more holes on the other side of Parker Road about a half-century ago, making the club more suitable for statewide championships (14 since 1978).

While both nines may be visually different, the front nine being tighter over a thin stretch of land, they are equally challenging to golfers. When the club hosted the first two rounds of the 2020 Ouimet Memorial Tournament, which featured a comparatively elite roster, the field averaged about 2.5 strokes above par on each nine. Only Ricky Stimets (Worcester Country Club) eagled the 18th, typically a three-shot par-5. Second shots must be played over a brook that cuts through the hole and presents itself on the left side and then find the green, which is guarded by a pond on the right and a lone bunker on the left. Tee placement here will make for some interesting decisions, especially during the match-play portion.

The course has long been a home of champions for this event, including Ray Wright (1990) and John Salamone (1991), as well as honorary member and former club champion Bill Mallon (1973&1974). Massachusetts Golf Hall of Famer Frank Vana, Jr., who played the course often while attending Marian High School, also won a pair of titles in 2004 & 2005.

This year, five Framingham members hope to represent their home course well, including Matthew Naumec, who joined in recent years after regaining his amateur status. Naumec, who played in the 2019 U.S. Open, made the final match last year and, in 2022, came close to winning the Mass Open. His clubmates – Jesse Zorfas, Kyle Tibbetts, Victor Galvani, and Lawrence Dore III – will also be seeking a spot in match play. Framingham member Mark O’Sullivan was also a late add to the field, filling in for Bryce Piemonte in the 7:41 a.m. group teeing off on hole 1.

“It’s a true honor; we’re excited to host it as a club,” said Galvani, 41, who grew up in a house by the 16th hole at Framingham and caddied there. “Our staff did an excellent job preparing the golf course. I’ve loved it here. It’s where I learned the game, and I’ve got so many longtime friendships here.”

Tibbetts has made it to the Round of 16 in three of his last four attempts and is a three-time men’s club champion. Rob Reni is a former member of the club and, at 71, has the distinction of being the most senior member in the field.

Victor Galvani, who grew up in a house by the 16th hole at Framingham Country Club, tees off on the 1st hole Monday. (David Colt)

Setting The Tone

You’ve likely heard the saying you can’t win a tournament on day 1, but you can certainly lose it. What has transpired in past years, though, is that getting off to a strong start over the first 18 holes of stroke play has often indicated whether players can meet their first goal, which is to be among the 32 players competing once match play begins Wednesday.

Over the past seven years, those in the field who shot even par or better in the opening round of the Mass Amateur made match play 86% of the time. If you include players who were 1-over or better, it’s 73%. However, players who shot exactly 1-over par in that span made the cut just 57% of the time, dropping to 44% for those finishing exactly 2-over on Day 1.

While Vanderbilt University’s John Broderick (Dedham Country & Polo Club) made headlines last year with his course record 62 at Essex County Club during stroke play, he was unable to break the skid of medalists winning it all. Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner Golf Club) was the most recent medalist to win (2015 at Oak Hill CC), as well as finish with the best opening-round score en route to the title.

Molly Mania (Part 2)

By this point, it’s no surprise to see Westford’s Molly Smith (Vesper Country Club) competing with the best amateurs in the state, period. Her powerful drive averages about 275 yards with a clubhead speed measured at 107 mph, and her improved short game has led to promising results. That includes getting to a playoff with good friend Trevor Drew in the Lowell Cities Golf Tournament and making the Round of 16 in the Women’s North and South Amateur in North Carolina.

Last year, she made history by becoming the first woman to compete in the Mass Amateur, and again, in August, she became the first golfer to compete in both state amateur championships in the same year. Smith ultimately came up short in the final match against University of Virginia standout Rebecca Skoler in an epic duel at Dedham Country & Polo Club, but with a second-round 68, was the only player to shoot even-par or better in the tournament.

Since joining the University of Central Florida golf squad, 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.

Smith shot rounds of 80-78 at Framingham when the Ouimet Memorial Tournament was held there in 2020, but four years older has a much-improved skillset that could very well make her a contender for one of 32 spots in match play. She will tee off at 1:54 p.m. from hole 1 along with fellow collegiate golfers Bryant University’s Cael Kohan (Ould Newbury Golf Club) and Methodist University’s David D’Agostino (Nashawtuc Country Club).

Extra Point – We’ll tack on one more for first-time competitor Bryce Baringer – after all, he’s the punter and holder for the 6-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Baringer, a sixth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2023, was a standout high school golfer in Michigan and was college roommates with 2021 U.S. Amateur winner James Piot. The scratch golfer now plays out of TPC Boston and qualified for the Mass Amateur last month by shooting a round-best 69 at Stockbridge Golf Club in Western Massachusetts.

Baringer begins play from Hole 1 at 1:32 p.m. Monday, just 16 days before training camp begins for the Patriots.

Stay Informed

For complete coverage of the 116th Massachusetts  Amateur Championship, visit MassGolf.org or follow Mass Golf on FacebookX, and Instagram at @PlayMassGolf and use the hashtag #MassWomensAm.