Pro golf tournament will not return to Falmouth Country Club

Pro golf tournament will not return to Falmouth Country Club

Fans watch golfers at the 18th hole during the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Live and Work in Maine Open in 2021 at Falmouth Country Club. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Live and Work in Maine Open, a professional golf tournament held the past two summers at Falmouth Country Club, is coming to an end after just two years.

Preston Edwards, a spokesperson for the Korn Ferry Tour, confirmed Wednesday that the event has been dropped from the tour’s 2023 season. The tour is the top developmental circuit for the PGA Tour.

The Korn Ferry Tour had a five-year agreement with Portland-based Shamrock Sports and Entertainment to run the tournament through 2025. Shamrock Sports founder and CEO Brian Corcoran said escalating purses were the reason the event was dropped from the schedule. Corcoran’s agency, along with the Korn Ferry Tour, was responsible for coming up with the prize money, raised primarily through ticket sales and sponsorships.

“It goes back to the changes in the financial structure of professional golf,” he said. “Our contractual commitment was based on a $600,000 annual prize purse. … With a minimum prize purse of $1 million per tournament starting in 2023, it makes it incredibly challenging for markets like Maine, smaller markets, to really survive.”

The Live and Work in Maine Open, which had a purse of $750,000 in 2022, donated nearly $250,000 to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital over the past two years. The event will join the Chitimacha Louisiana Open and the Lake Charles Championship, also in Louisiana, among tournaments being dropped from the Korn Ferry Tour schedule.

Corcoran said the PGA Tour had a year-by-year termination clause in the contract. The tournament drew 10,311 fans over four days in June, up from around 6,350 the year before. He said the event contributed $10 million in estimated economic impact for southern Maine.

“It was fairly blindsiding, I’m not going to sugarcoat that,” Corcoran said of the news that tournament would not continue. “We were doing a postmortem recap of the tournament about a month after, and very candidly still on cloud nine from what we thought was a best-in-class experience.”

Jason Harris, owner of Falmouth Country Club, did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story. Attempts to reach top Korn Ferry Tour officials were not successful.

The Live and Work in Maine Open marked the return of pro golf to Maine for the first time since 1993, debuting in 2021 with a $600,000 purse. Chad Ramey won the event and $108,000 in 2021, and Pierceson Coody took first and won $135,000 this summer.

Camden Hills graduate and Florida State junior Cole Anderson, who battled for the win and finished tied for third in June, said he was sad to hear the news.

“It’s disappointing. I think it was a great event for not only us as players, but just for the community and Maine as a whole,” Anderson said. “The first reaction would be a little bit of disappointment and maybe a touch of frustration, but at the end of the day there’s the other side of it. The PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour are running a business, and they need to act in the way that best suits their needs.

“I can see both sides of the coin, but obviously a big disappointment to see it not coming back.”

Maine Golf Executive Director Brian Bickford also was discouraged by the news.

“Word on the street was there was a commitment over a number of years,” he said. “When you hear it’s cut shorts, you’re always kind of disappointed.”

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