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June 20, 2022

Maine's pro golf tourney returns for second year, shooting for new economic goals

File photo An unidentified pro tees off for the 16th hole during the 2021 Live + Work in Maine Open.

Although its economic performance may not yet make par, Maine's only professional golf tournament tees off Thursday aiming for some impressive numbers.

Over 150 pros will compete for a $750,000 purse in the Live + Work in Maine Open. Organizers of the Falmouth tournament hope to raise $135,000 to benefit the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. That's up from $108,000 in 2021, when the event brought pro golf back to Maine for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Although charitable donations last year exceeded a $100,000 goal, the economic impact from the tournament, part of the Korn Ferry Tour, missed the forecast. 

Last year, around 3,000 out-of-state spectators and another 5,000 Mainers descended on the Falmouth Country Club for the tourney, according to Brian Corcoran, chief engagement officer of organizer Shamrock Sports & Entertainment. That led to around $4 million in direct local spending for southern Maine, he added — half of the typical boost from a stop on the Korn Ferry Tour, considered the steppingstone to the elite PGA Tour.

“We set a goal of $6 million this year," Corcoran told Mainebiz on Monday, "and I hope by year three [of the Live + Work in Maine Open] we'll be closer to the ... average of a Korn Ferry tournament, which is $8 million.”

But how do organizers plan to roughly double the local economic impact two years after the tourney's start?

Part of the problem last year was “headwinds related to community health” as the ongoing pandemic limited some activities, Corcoran said. But much of the focus needs to be on growing the number of out-of-state spectators.

Already, he said, his team has “good insights” from this year’s presold tickets that the event could attract “at least 10,000, perhaps even 12,000” spectators.

Public rounds run Thursday through Sunday. Corcoran and his team are working to keep people around for a while.

“We need to create experiences here that make them want to be here for not just a day or two, but for … other related special events and activities that happen throughout the week.”

To that end, numerous events are planned. They include a 5K road race, which will be held Monday in Portland to benefit the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Participants are encouraged to register ahead of time and donate $25 to the program. 

Interested spectators can also watch an unticketed pro-am tournament on Wednesday at the country club. More information can be found on the official tournament website.

Live + Work in Maine will host a free community gathering at the country club to help bring together more new Maine transplants. Katie Shorey, the organization’s engagement director, told Mainebiz that roughly 130 people had already signed up for the event. Registration is highly encouraged because there is an attendance cap, she said.

Single-day tickets for the four-day tournament can be purchased for $20, and a full-tournament pass is $60. Private chalets for up to 10 or 20 people can be rented for between $3,000 to $6,000 for the event’s weekday dates; that ticket includes views of the 18th hole and a meal at an on-site beer garden.

Donations to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital can also be made through the ticket purchasing site.

Attendees can also ditch their cars for the day — or, at least, a train station parking lot. Going northbound and southbound five times a day over the course of the tournament, Amtrak’s Downeaster train will drop ticket-holders off within a 10-minute walk of the tournament entrance, according to a fact sheet.

The tournament is also offering complimentary shuttle service between the train stop and the course. Amtrak did not immediately respond to a question regarding the number of tickets already sold for the stop.

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