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With second Junior Amateur title secured, Downes adds to WVGA success before new challenge awaits at Rutgers

Argyle Downes has a history of success within West Virginia Golf Association tournaments.

As a 15-year-old, he won the state’s Junior Amateur Championship at Bridgeport Country Club. Three years later, Downes became a two-time winner of the event Wednesday when he closed with a round of 4-under par 68 to overcome a two-stroke deficit through 36 holes and capture the crown.

Soon, Downes will see how his game stacks up in major Division I golf with the Charles Town native preparing to begin a collegiate golf career at Rutgers.

“You play in a really competitive conference. The academics are really good. I liked the coach and culture of the team when I went up there,” Downes said of what led to him choosing the Scarlet Knights. “I talked to a lot of guys that were there and guys that had graduated. They have a pretty good record of guys improving a good bit while they’re there, and if you decide to turn pro or whatever else you end up doing, it’s an upward trajectory when you leave. That was a big thing.”

While Downes has been a West Virginia resident throughout his life, he was always enrolled at an out-of-state school.

From kindergarten through eighth grade, Downes attended Powhatan School, a private school located a half hour from Charles Town in Boyce, Virginia.

Starting in ninth grade, Downes went to Mercersburg Academy, a college-preparatory boarding school in Pennsylvania.

Argyle Downes prepares to hit a tee shot at Canaan Valley Resort. Photo by Greg Carey

“It was a lot of fun,” said Downes, who enjoyed a standout golf career for the Blue Storm. “It was a difference experience and a change from where I grew up.”

Downes had played baseball up until he was 12 and began a singular athletic focus on golf not long before he began attending Mercersburg. 

He was able to showcase improvement throughout the years at Mercersburg and during spring and summer months while competing in WVGA and other events.

“The whole process is interesting,” Downes said. “Recruitment kind of depends on playing well at the tournaments that you need to, get in front of the right people and right coaches and the timing of everything syncing up.”

In 2020, Downes competed in the West Virginia Open at the age of 14. The next year, he established himself as the state’s top junior amateur golfer.

A two-time WVGA Boys Player of the Year, Downes was the individual champion of The Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association in 2023, finishing first at a tournament he had placed second and third in, respectively, the previous two years.

While much of his success came outside West Virginia, Downes’ prowess was well known in the Mountain State, and in particular, across the Eastern Panhandle.

“I grew up playing Locust Hill and have played there literally every day in the summers since I’ve been old enough to be at the course by myself,” Downes said. “I’ve grown up playing with a lot of good players in the area, so every time I get to play in a tournament like the Junior Amateur, state Amateur or state Open, it’s nice because I get to see guys that a lot of times I don’t see outside of state events like this. 

“A lot of guys I’ve been playing with since I was 13 or 14 are guys I’m still playing with now, but a couple of them have graduated and moved on. Playing the Junior Amateur is always fun because I get to see guys from the opposite side of the state that I literally don’t see outside of these tournaments.”

In his final Junior Amateur, Downes opened with a 3-under par 69 for a share of the lead. He followed it up with a round of 68, but found himself two shots behind solo leader McCartney Hinkle through 36 holes.

In Wednesday’s third and final round, Downes birdied three of his first four holes to work around one of his two bogeys on the day. Following four consecutive pars, he made birdie at the par-5 ninth to finish the front nine in 33.

The lone hiccup the remainder of the round came when he made bogey on the par-3 12th, which Downes responded to with consecutive birdies to get to 11-under for the tournament. 

He made par on the final four holes to hold on to the top spot.

“I’ve been playing this tournament since I was 8, 9 years old,” Downes said afterward. “It’s kind of nice to go out with a bang you could say. It’s been really fun.”

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