The Falmouth Country Club will host the Live +Work in Maine Classic in June 2020, a part of the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. Courtesy photo

FALMOUTH —  It’s been 25 years since the road to the PGA passed through Maine.

That will change next spring.

Last week, Shamrock Sports and Entertainment and officials from the golfing community announced the Falmouth Country Club will host the Live + Work in Maine Open through 2024.

The event, a stop on the 2020 PGA Korn Ferry Tour, will take place from June 8 to 14, 2020 and include more than 150 players vying for a $600,000 purse.

“For the next five years, we are going to see top-level golf and I can’t be happier about that,” Peter Kostis, a part-time Falmouth resident and longtime CBS golf analyst, said at a press conference on the Portland Pier on Sept. 4.

Although the tour, considered the development tour for players looking to qualify for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, is still nine months away, Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long-range planning and economic development, said the discussion about how to prepare and what it means to the town will begin soon.

The Falmouth Country Club has hosted amateur championships and Ladies Professional Golf Association events and in June will host an event that brings PGA-aspiring golfers to the state. Courtesy photo

“We haven’t had a chance to discuss it yet,” he said, “but my anticipation is the Economic Improvement Committee … and Falmouth/Cumberland Chamber of Commerce over the next few months will talk about how we can make the visitors to Falmouth feel welcome,” Holtwijk said.

The Economic Improvement Committee next meets on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Holtwijk said although he still needs to get more information about what sort of impact the tour might have on the town in terms of things like lodging and food services, he sees this as “an exciting opportunity.”

“We are honored Falmouth was chosen,” he said.

Between the three golf courses, three outdoor ice skating rinks and hosting countless tournaments and sporting events, Falmouth has a rich sporting tradition, Holtwijk said.

Korn Ferry President Alex Baldwin said the Portland market met all the criteria the Korn Ferry Tour looks at when deciding a new tour stop.

Baldwin said it was this history and the marketability of Portland that drew the Korn Ferry Tour to the state.

“Golf in Maine is a really important part of the culture of the state. I am thrilled big-time golf is coming back to the state. I can’t wait to see how it is accepted,” Kostis said.

The Korn Ferry Tour, now in its 30th year, is considered the development tour for players looking to qualify for the PGA. The closest the Korn Ferry Tour came to Portland in 2019 was the LECOM Health Challenge, held July 4-7, 2019 in Findley Lake, New York.

The tour “is the proving ground for the golf superstars of the future that are competing today,” Baldwin said at the press conference. He doesn’t expect “dramatic” changes to the course to get it ready for the seven-day event.

The tour, started in 1990 as the Ben Hogan Tour, hands out 50 PGA tour cards, 25 to the top point-earners at the end of the 24-event Korn Ferry Tour and 25 to the top performers in the three-event Korn Ferry finals. Korn Ferry Tour alunni make up approximately 75 percent of the PGA Tour players and have included noted golfers Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson. Baldwin, a graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, said alumni have won more than 520 PGA Tour titles, including 24 major championships and eight Players Championships.

National golf analyst Peter Kostis said at a press event last week he is excited to see professional golf return to the state. In June, the Falmouth Country Club will host a leg of the PGA’s Korn Ferry Tour. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

The event won’t just showcase a high level of golf play, but also what the state has to offer, said Ed McKersie, chairman of the Board of Advisors at Live + Work in Maine, a statewide employer-driven initiative to market Maine as a career destination.

“Live and Work in Maine’s mission is to market Maine as a career destination, and we are pleased to be given the opportunity to be involved with a professional sports event that highlights the quality of life here in Maine,” McKersie said in a statement announcing the tour. “Being asked by the employer community to lend our brand to this event validates our work and gives us all a unique platform to show the world that when it comes to quality of life and career opportunities, you can have the best of both by choosing to live and work in Maine.”

“Maine is a great place to work and live and we are going to use this platform to drive that message home,” Baldwin said.

Brian Corcoran, president of Shamrock Sports and Entertainment, which is managing the tour, said his team will help leverage the event “to its full potential” and make the event feature “the best of what Maine has to offer.”

Guy Langevin, chairman of the Maine Workforce Board, said the event will be a tremendous economic development opportunity for Maine; the economic impact could be as much as $8 million.

“There is a lot of opportunity here we want to take advantage of,” he said.

This marks the tour’s return to Maine. Kostis, a frequent player at Falmouth Country Club over the years, said the Woodlands Country Club in Falmouth hosted The New England Classic, a stop on the tour from 1990 to 1993.

Jeff Harris, whose father Dick Harris helped to start the Falmouth Country Club in 1988, is excited to see the tournament come to the club.

“Falmouth (Country Club) has always been about the golf and holds its players and game in high regard,” he said.

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