AUBURN – One golfer’s reaction told the story of the day at Charlie’s Maine Open.

While not the typical one displayed, it certainly summed up the thoughts of many Tuesday after a losing battle with the par-3, No. 5 hole at Fox Ridge Golf Course.

After his tee shot from top of the hill plunked into the pond surrounding the green, he clenched both his fists and blurted out an unprintable word. Two steps toward his golf cart came another shot of the same expletive. Before he got to the cart, there was a third.

In all, 105 golfers played the hole, 50 balls found the hazard – 46 of those were in the drink – and golfers made just eight birdies, pushing the stroke average up to more than a bogey, at 4.019 strokes per golfer.

“I wouldn’t want to play this one,” said USGA official Robert Lowden. “One club you’re too short and one club you’re over. They’re playing it over 200 yards. The hole looks so small from up there.”

The fifth hole resembles the famed 17th at Sawgrass. While the 17th has a smaller landing surface, the hole rests 132 yards from the tee. Fox Ridge’s signature hole is more than 200 yards in length. A golfer can’t just loft an iron shot onto the green. He needs to put some distance into the shot.

“Pin-high with a five-iron is the shot,” said Fox Ridge pro Bob Darling Jr. “Wherever the pin is, forget about it and just go for the green. The play is just to the right on the green.”

Even Darling struggled with the hole Tuesday as a sweeping wind from left to right played havoc with even the best players. Combine the stiff breeze with some hard greens, and the hole became even more adventurous.

“The wind just adds a whole new element,” Darling said. “I hit it to the right side of the green and it hopped into the water. I knew it as soon as I hit it.”

There were a few success stories on the hole. Tad Jacks drove a five-wood and birdied it. First-round leader Rob Corcoran sank a long putt for another birdie.

“Glad to have that over with,” he chuckled as he quickly headed to the next tee.

One of the funnier scenes near the hole came later in the day. As Bobby Pandolfi walked onto the green to play a long, 60-foot putt, Mark Baldwin in the threesome ahead gave him the baseball umpire’s safe sign from his spot waiting on the sixth tee to signal Pandolfi’s shot was safe from the water.

“It’s a great feeling,” yelled Baldwin over to his fellow golfer.

An even better feeling for Pandolfi came after he drained the 60-footer for undoubtedly the putt of the day.

Local golfer John Emerson of Lewiston calls Fox Ridge his home course. His strategy was simple. After watching one of his mates take more than 30 seconds to line up his tee shot, Emerson set the ball on the tee and blasted away with his five-iron en route to a par 3 on the hole.

For every success at the fifth hole, there were two horror stories. Most golfers took it in stride.

“I never thought I’d have as much fun making bogey,” remarked Will Flagg.

Even Justin Barkley enjoyed the hole. All the Laconia, N.H. native did was struggle his way to an astronomical 11 on the No. 5.

“That’s a great golf hole,” he said with a smile. “I think I got an 11, but that’s a great hole.”


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