The 10th hole as seen from the new tee box at Falmouth Country Club. Nearly 70 yards were added to the hole for the Live and Work in Maine Open, making it a par-4, 469-yard challenge during the tournament. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Falmouth Country Club’s 18-hole layout has always been big. Including the clubhouse and other amenities, the course designed by the late Geoff Cornish and architect Brian Silva covers 425 acres and could play at nearly 6,900 yards from the back tees when it opened in 1988.

The course has added even more muscle to prepare for the Korn Ferry Tour pros in this week’s inaugural Live and Work in Maine Open. With new tees on five holes, the course can play a tee to center-of-green distance of 7,372 yards with a par of 71. The 513-yard 8th hole, a par 5 for Falmouth Country Club members, will play as a par 4 for the pros.

“Oh, I noticed the new tee boxes. It’s going to be fun,” said Dan Venezio of Portland Country Club. Venezio and Shawn Warren, a teaching pro at Falmouth Country Club, are the two Maine-based PGA professionals granted sponsor exemptions into the tournament.

Warren said that since the Live and Work in Maine Open was announced in 2019, there has been a buzz of anticipation at the golf course. That has only increased as the members have seen the layout tweaks, he said. The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 event.

“Everything going on since the announcement has been 100 percent positive around the club,” Warren said.

Falmouth has a distinctively diverse layout. The front nine covers rather hilly terrain, with some sharp ascents and descents through the woods, offering a classic New England feel. Comparatively, the back nine is more wide open, with a hint of links course modeling. Silva, in an article on the website Top100golfcourses.com, said of the expansive grounds, “this wonderful variety of land imbues the layout with similar degrees of variety and play in aesthetics, such that no two holes are alike.”

The expansive property also allowed the course to be designed without any parallel holes. Often there is not even another hole in sight.

“Every hole is its own individual,” Warren said.

The extra length has been added because the average driving distance for Korn Ferry Tour players is over 300 yards. The changes are part of an overall plan of suggestions made by the PGA Tour’s agronomists and rules officials for improving the course for tournament play.

“It’s not a one-year thing. It’s about investing in the future and we’re excited about working with the team at Falmouth,” said Korn Ferry President Alex Baldwin.

Shamrock Sports and Entertainment of Portland, the tournament management group, has a five-year deal with the PGA Tour to host a Korn Ferry event at Falmouth Country Club.

The cost of changes, which in the case of the brand new 10th tee involved clearing a large chunk of wooded area, is shared by the PGA, Shamrock Sports and Entertainment, and Falmouth Country Club, according to tournament director Brian Corcoran, the CEO of Shamrock Sports.

“To Falmouth Country Club’s credit, they’re ahead of the plan,” Corcoran said, adding that the country club “is getting very high marks, so much respect, from the PGA’s team.”

Most of the additional length is on the back side. The new tee boxes are all on par-4 holes: 9, 10, 12, 16 and 18. The newly established tees on holes 10 and 12 each added roughly 70 yards, making the holes play at a maximum distance of 469 and 468 yards, respectively.

Shawn Warren, a teaching pro at Falmouth Country Club, will compete in the Live and Work in Maine Open this week. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

“The 10th and 12th, those were already two great holes with water in play,” Warren said. “Now with the new tee boxes it’s made them play dramatically different.”

Warren expects the 17th and 18th holes to be pivotal during the tournament.

The 17th, an uphill 542-yard par 5 with a green protected front and back by bunkers, presents the classic risk vs. reward situation.

“It’s a reachable par 5 with out of bounds on both sides. Everyone will be giving 17 a go on their second shot,” Warren said. “But there’s that risk. A possible double bogey if you hit out of bounds or a possible eagle.”

The picturesque finishing hole, a dogleg right par 4, is now 485 yards long, an increase of 50 yards that makes hitting the landing area between the nearly two dozen deep bunkers in the rough a bit more challenging.

Maine golf legend Mark Plummer, the winner of 13 Maine Amateur tournaments, said all the extra length means the Korn Ferry Tour pros “are probably going to be playing a course I’ve never played.”

But Falmouth Country Club has a line of defense against even the biggest hitters.

“The greens. They’re very undulating. That’s the first thing I think of when I think of the golf course. They can put pins in places where it will be almost impossible to get to,” said Plummer, who won a 1995 celebrity skins challenge at the course against Peter Kostis, senior player Guy Boros and talk show host Maury Povich.

The course also has distinctive New England traits that could give southern-based pros some pause, like the rolling fairways and plush rough, the long fescue grass edging many of the sand traps, and heavier air that can tamp down ball flight. And because players are required to walk the course, the sheer size is a factor. Even with some newly carved cart paths designed to decrease the distance between green and the next tee, Warren said the players will still be walking over seven miles per round.

“This is just a big, long, spread out golf course. It’s so large, you can get lost out there and kind of lose your bearings,” Warren said.


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