Caleb Manuel hits from the third tee during the final round of the 104th Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday at Samoset Resort in Rockport. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

ROCKPORT — The third hole at the Samoset Resort is easily one of the most scenic in Maine.

It’s also the most difficult, as golfers competing in the Maine Amateur Championship found out this week.

A par-3 that is 227 yards from the men’s tees, the layout is inviting. The rocky coastline sits to the left and beyond the green, offering a picturesque view of the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s equal parts beautiful and intimidating.

“It’s an extremely intimidating tee shot,” said Andrew Slattery, who finished eighth with a three-day total of 2-over 215. “From almost 200 yards, hitting it over the ocean, back onto land. It’s very intimidating. I was lucky, I hit the green (the first two rounds). I’ve been lucky there to hit a couple good shots.”

If a tee shot sails left or goes beyond the green, the ball will likely never see daylight again. Rocks also infringe on the fairway. If a golfer wants to play aggressively, a straight shot essentially carries – for a few seconds – over a beach to get to the green. That’s not even taking the sea breeze into account, which can also lead to danger.


If the pin is placed on the left side of green, it adds yet another element of danger. Golfers who want to aim for the pin must hit the ball over the ocean. A tee shot to the right on No. 3 is no layup, either, as two sand traps stretch out near the green; one to the front, another to the right.

After carding a bogey during the first round on Tuesday, Slattery managed to make par on No. 3 on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Especially where these guys are playing from the back tees, they can’t miss left, they can’t miss short, and they can’t be long,” said Alex Pappas, Samoset’s head golf pro. “You have bunkers kind of surrounding the green. And it’s a double green, so it makes (putting) kind of tricky.

“I say, if you’re out here playing, I always tell people, if the pin’s on the left, don’t go for it,” Pappas continued. “Just go for the middle of the green and try to two-putt. And not just (No. 3), but all the par-3s out here. If you get any wind off the ocean, it just adds another element, too. That’s what I’ve been hearing from everyone this week, ‘Jeez, these par-3s are tough.’ But No. 3 is a tricky one; there’s not a lot of room for error.”

Eli Spaulding of Brunswick Golf Club shoots from the third tee during the final round of the 104th Maine Amateur Championship on Thursday at Samoset Resort in Rockport. Spaulding, who will be a junior at Freeport High, won the junior division. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Sixteen of the 44 golfers who made the cut bogeyed the third hole Thursday. Four made double-bogey. Only Ricky Jones, playing on his home course, and Jace Pearson made birdies.

One golfer who didn’t struggle was runner-up Ron Kelton, who finished the tournament with a 2-under 211. Kelton made par on Tuesday and Thursday and birdied the hole Wednesday.


“Monday, during the practice round, I knew it was a tough hole,” Kelton said. “That can really make or break a round. Every time at the (driving) range, I hit that (tee shot) every single time in my head. It actually played out, worked exactly like I was trying (to do).”

Caleb Manuel, who won his third straight Maine Amateur with a 13-under 200, was not immune to the dangers of No. 3. During the second round, Manuel went just left of the green, his ball landing on the rocky beach. He was forced to take a drop and eventually two-putted for a double-bogey.

Manuel learned his lesson Thursday, hitting his tee shot to the right. While it landed in the sand trap, he nearly holed his bunker shot and tapped in for par.

“(The pin) was more to the right (Thursday), so it was nice to not have to hit one to the left like (Wednesday),” Manuel said. “I wasn’t really trying to protect from that, but I knew a smooth swing would push it a little bit. That bunker was fine, and then to be able to hit that shot and tap it in was a little bit of relief, especially when Tyler (Baker) and I were close (in scores) at that time.

“It’s hard to see the pin, too. You lose it in the trees and the ocean and skyline behind. When you’re looking up to see the pin, it’s like ‘OK, maybe I need to back off (on the drive), because I can’t see it. But I hit the shot, and then the bunker shot was good.”

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