Massachusetts Amateur: Matt Cowgill earns medalist honors
Matt Cowgill (Teddy Doggett/Mass Golf Photo)
Matt Cowgill (Teddy Doggett/Mass Golf Photo)

On a soupy summer’s day such as this, when temperature and humidity percentage are playing one-on-one to 100, you must, to remain sane, assure yourself that the heat will inevitably break.

And with a field of over 140 golfers vying for 32 match play slots, the cut line wobbling throughout the dogged afternoon, there too, something must break. Whether by regulation or by playoff. Today it took a playoff. A playoff which included the two finalists of the 2023 Mass Am, Ryan Downes (GreatHorse) and Matthew Naumec (Framingham Country Club), and another past champion in Nick McLaughlin (Far Corner Golf Club), as well as Danny Frodigh (Dedham Country and Polo Club).

As the intrepid four gathered on the first tee, an ominous wall of clouds formed. Rumbling thunder and a distant, spidering bolt of lightning suggested that the heat was finally ready to break, just as the field was ready to break off into match play.

One player who didn’t break was Matt Cowgill (Granite Links Golf Club), who went on a heater that outraced the thermometer in the late afternoon, birdieing holes No. 12, 13, 14, and 15 consecutively on his way to a 5-under 67. He claimed top seed and medalist honors with a two-round, 9-under total of 135.

Top of the Heap

Matt Cowgill rode a precise driver and hot putter, tallying 8 birdies in his second round. It sounded like a simple formula. “I felt like the ball striking was there, and my tee ball. That just set me up to hit wedges, and my wedges felt really good,” said Cowgill.

Things got a little dicey on the 18th, a risk-reward par-5. “I don’t know what I was thinking. Hit driver off the right, which it was downwind, so I thought it could be the play. Then I juiced the 4-iron over the green, lucky to stay in-bounds. Hit the path, then the tree. Lucky to stay in play, kind of barely got it out and then hit a nice chip to like four feet.”

When it’s your day, it’s your day. His par on the last ensured medalist honors–he would finish two shots clear of Shuvam Bhaumik (Thorny Lea Golf Club), who hadn’t made a bogey all week, until a double on 13 and bogey on 14 undid his chances of finishing stroke play atop the heap. While Cowgill is pleased with his play, he sounds ready to shift gears into a new format on Wednesday: “One-on-one, so probably a little bit more aggressive, feel it out. See how the match is going, but these two rounds are just sort of keep it in play and hit green and try to make putts. But maybe tomorrow I’ll be a little bit more aggressive.”

Now, About That Playoff

As the clouds gathered around Framingham in the twilight hours, so did an eager crowd. A four-man playoff for three remaining match play spots was in the offing, and it featured some marquee names of the Mass Golf scene. The first hole would be the par-5 1st, followed by the par-4 9th, if necessary.

Naumec, the 2023 runner-up, led off with a tee ball that flared out to the right, and settled on the right side of a massive, fescue fuzzed knoll. 2023 champion Ryan Downes was next, and he laced driving iron down the center. Then was Frodigh, who hooked a 3-wood, but was fortunate to catch a friendly deflection out of the tree line. Finally McLaughlin, the 2015 champion, roped a driver that drew into the left rough, beyond the other three.

Downes, Naumec and Frodigh left their steeply uphill second shots short of the green, perhaps on purpose, given the hole location. McLaughlin’s long iron landed on the left side of the green and raced to the back fringe.

The gallery of some 60 onlookers, undeterred by a few more rolls of thunder, climbed the considerable hill to the green. But it wasn’t that mountainous hill that defined the day, but rather the slick slope that runs horizontally across the 1st green, splitting it in two. From the top shelf, McLaughlin, short of banging one off the flag stick, had no chance of keeping his lag putt on the green. Playing second, after Naumec chipped to 12 feet, McLaughlin’s putt eased its way towards the slope before nearing the split, which, like a well-constructed Hot Wheels ramp, sent his ball hurdling past the cup off the green and into the front rough.

Downes executed his pitch perfectly, bouncing it to the crest of the slope, and watching it trundle back down, past the cup, to three feet. He made birdie from there. McLaughlin failed to get up and down, allowing Naumec and Frodigh to two-putt-par their way into Wednesday tee times.

Mid-Ams Rely on Experience

2022 Massachusetts Mid-Amateur champion Sean Fitzpatrick (George Wright Golf Course) turned in one of the lower rounds of the day with a sizzling 4-under 68. Call it what you’d like–perspective, new dad energy–either way, you’d have to wonder if recent life events may be a factor.

“Having a boy six weeks ago changes everything, for sure. You know, I certainly appreciate the time I can get out and play, because it won’t be as much, freedom as I used to have, but I’m looking forward it. Couldn’t be more excited for my baby boy,” said Fitzpatrick.

He piled up the birdies, tallying seven on the day. Like much of the field, he made his hay on the par-5s. The four par-5s ranked as the four easiest holes on the course through two days. Fitzpatrick played them in 3-under today and 7-under over two rounds.

Fitzpatrick birdied the par-5 18th to cap things off, but he’s well aware that the goal of the stroke play portion of the event is to simply survive and advance. “It was good to make a birdie on the last hole. But you know, I knew where I was coming down the last few holes. So just trying to get in the clubhouse at that point and then we can reset all the scores tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Mike Calef (Pine Oaks Golf Club), who won back-to-back Mass Ams in 2012 & 2013, finished as the low past champion at the conclusion of stroke play. After an opening round 73, Calef roared back with a strong day two, playing his final 10 holes in 4-under to finish with a 68.

It’s a comfortable venue for Calef–he takes lessons from Framingham Director of Instruction Pat Bigelow.

“I have a lot of friends who are members here, so we were kind of fortunate to get out earlier this week. It’s such a good playing membership and it’s such a good club,” said Calef. “And then Pat’s just awesome. He’s he’s been great for me with short game help, long game help. He’s really good, and he kind of gets it. He’s got a lot of really good players that he works with. so I’m really lucky to to be able to work with him.”


Out with the stroke play, in with some good old-fashioned match play. The bracket is set, and our coverage will start bright and early on Wednesday morning. The rounds of 32 and 16 will be contested on Wednesday, 8 and 4 on Thursday, followed by the 36-hole final on Friday. Be sure to follow along with live scoring.

Results: Massachusetts Amateur
WinMAMatt NaumecWilbraham, MA200
Runner-upMARicky StimetsOsterville, MA100
SemifinalsMAEthan WhitneyWestminster, MA50
SemifinalsMAMatt ParzialeBrockton, MA50

View full results for Massachusetts Amateur

ABOUT THE Massachusetts Amateur

Qualifying - 32 Holes at Stroke Play to determine 32 Qualifiers for Match Play. Entries are open to amateur golfers who have an active MGA/GHIN Handicap Index at any public, private, semi-private, municipal or non-real estate MGA member course/club not exceeding 4.4.

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