Professional golf has made its way to Maine before


Arnold Palmer smiles after winning the 1986 Unionmutual Seniors Golf Classic at Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth. Press Herald File Photo

This week’s Live and Work in Maine Open is not the first professional golf tournament to be held in the state. Here’s a historical look at other Maine events featuring professional golfers.

New England classics: Today’s Korn Ferry Tour began as the Ben Hogan Tour in 1990 and changed name for the first time before the 1993 season. From 1990-93 the New England Classic at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth was a tour stop for the pros who wanted to reach the PGA. 1990 winner Brandel Chamblee is now a regular studio analyst on the Golf Channel. 1993 winner John Morse received his PGA Tour card that season at the age of 35 and would win the 1995 Hawaiian Open.

Unionmutual Seniors Golf Classic: This tournament was held at the Purpoodock Club in Cape Elizabeth from 1984-1996 and was not officially part of the PGA Seniors Tour, but it drew some of the sport’s greatest stars. Among them Arnold Palmer, who took his penultimate tournament win and $ 38,000 in Purpoodock on September 28, 1986, beat the invitation field with rounds of 65-67-68 with three strokes and new fans for Arnies. won army. The tournament used a match play format in 1984 but realized that this could be counterproductive when Palmer lost in the opening round.

Charlie’s Maine Open: Maine Open’s annual professional open tournament, the Maine Open, dates back to 1918. 2019 winner Jason Millard earned $ 7,000. But in its past, like other State Opens, the Maine Open has drawn emerging and established players to professional golf. Bob Toski, the leading money winner on the 1954 PGA Tour, won the Maine Open in 1959. Notable runners-up were Dave Eichelberger in 1970 and Lanny Wadkins and Jim Dent, who were behind amateur Steve Robbins in 1971. Eichelberger would win four PGA Tour events. Wadkins, the 1970s US amateur champion, won 21 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1977 PGA Championship. Dent, one of the first black golfers to make the PGA Tour, won 12 times on the Seniors Tour. 1984 winner Dana Quigley won the PGA Seniors Tour 11 times after her 50th birthday in 1997.

Greater Bangor open: Similar to the Maine Open, this event drew some big names (including Wadkins) to Bangor Municipal in the early 1970s and usually had bigger budgets than the Maine Open. In the mid-1990s, the first prize was worth $ 10,000 (equivalent to roughly $ 18,000 today) and former tennis Grand Slam winner Ivan Lendl played at the 1996 event. The tournament’s 52-year run ended after the 2018 event, in which only $ 7,000 was paid to the winner. Several other “open” tournaments have shaped the Maine golf landscape over the years. Some lasted decades and others only a year, like the 54-hole Bicentennial Open in 1976 at the Aroostook Valley Country Club, located in both Maine and Canada. Wayne Levi won the event. Levi won the PGA Tour 12 times and was PGA Tour Player of the Year in 1990.

Legends Tour: The Ladies Professional Golf Association’s official senior tour (45 and older), the Legends Tour, made a stop at Falmouth Country Club in 2012 and 2013. The first year the tournament was sponsored by Hannaford and offered a total of $ 200,000 in prize money for a 40-player field, with Sheri Turner winning the event and $ 30,000. When Hannaford gave up sponsorship, the tournament was renamed the Harris Golf Charity Classic (the Harris family owns the Falmouth Country Club). Rosie Jones, who finished second in 2012, won the event in 2013.

Pepsi Skins Challenge: This event was the brainchild of Sanford-born Peter Kostis, the professional golfer who became a TV analyst and instructor. The Pepsi Skins Challenge was really more of an exhibition than a tournament. Kostis brought some big names with him, which in turn resulted in large crowds coming to the Falmouth Country Club when it opened in 1988. Among the pros who participated were Tom Kite, Bobby Wadkins, Davis Love III, Tom Purtzer, Gary Koch, Ken Green, and Mark Calcavecchia.

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