They are not household names yet. But this week, some of the best up-and-coming professional golfers in the world will tee it up at Falmouth Country Club for a shot at the $108,000 winner’s prize at the first Live and Work in Maine Open, an official stop on the Korn Ferry Tour.
The event, managed by Shamrock Sports and Entertainment of Portland, marks the return of the top developmental golf tour in the United States to Maine for the first time since 1993.
A total purse of $600,000 is available to 156 golfers in the field. Tournament play will be held Thursday through Sunday, with a cut to the low 65 scores plus ties for the final two rounds of the 72-hole tournament.
The Korn Ferry Tour is the path to the PGA Tour, and players will be vying to move up the overall points standings. The top 25 finishers in the final regular-season standings will be guaranteed exemption status on the PGA Tour’s 2022 season. Another 25 will earn PGA cards via the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour playoff format.
Some of the current golfers on the Korn Ferry Tour have already competed in PGA Tour events.
“There will be a guy playing (in the Live and Work in Maine Open) who in five years wins a major,” said Falmouth Country Club assistant pro Shawn Warren, who will be in the field on a sponsor’s exemption. “Probably two who will play in the Ryder Cup in the next five years.”
The Live and Work in Maine Open was scheduled to debut in June 2020 but was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year will mark the beginning of a five-year deal between the PGA Tour and Shamrock Sports to host a Korn Ferry event at Falmouth Country Club.
“Our goal is to develop the next generation of PGA stars and every golf course and market we come to is looked at through the lens of that preparatory environment,” said Alex Baldwin, president of the Korn Ferry Tour (and a Bates College graduate). “Giving them the opportunity to play in different markets, to possibly connect with different sponsors and play in different conditions is important.”
Brian Corcoran, the CEO of Shamrock Sports and pro bono executive director of the tournament, noted that the PGA’s responsibility and focus is on making the tournament “the very best it can be inside the ropes,” for the players. Shamrock, in tandem with Falmouth Country Club management, is determined to create “a first-class experience for golf fans and non-golf fans alike.”
General admission tickets start at $20 for a single day ($50 for all four rounds); total attendance will be limited to about 2,500 fans per day. They will be watching professional golfers who average over 300 yards on their drives and make birdies or better on nearly a quarter of their holes.
The tournament is also focused on highlighting culinary and craft beer offerings that have made the greater Portland area a worldwide foodie destination. Tournament organizers estimate the tournament can have an overall annual economic impact of $8 million, while also delivering at least $100,000 in charitable contributions to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.
“If we’re going to make this sustainable, it has to appeal to the casual fan as much as the golf purist or hardcore fan,” Corcoran said. “We’re focused on what will make it memorable for all ages and taste buds.”
The tournament is targeting fans’ appetites with a $100 per person “Bites & Brews” ticket that includes a full-day general admission ticket, all-day access to the Maine Beer Box (over 80 taps of Maine-based craft beer), three culinary & craft beer dining pairings for an early lunch (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) or late afternoon meal (4-5:30 p.m.), and access to the Putts + Pints pub and viewing area just off the 18th green.
In addition to the competitive tournament there are several other associated events.
Monday: Monday Qualifying Tournament at The Ledges in York. Run by the PGA Tour, the top eight finishers will advance to the Live and Work in Maine Open. It is not uncommon for a Monday qualifier to place in the top 20 of the weekly tournament, thus earning a start in the next Korn Ferry Tour event.
Tuesday: Practice rounds, a youth clinic and Par-Tee Fore Purpose.
Wednesday: Anthem Pro-Am. Pros play with a foursome that has paid $6,000 to participate. The pro-am is one of the tournament’s primary fundraising tools for it charitable beneficiary, the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. Each PGA Tour-sanctioned event is required to support a charitable organization.