AUBURN – Mark Alizzeo’s car tells his tale.

“Just look at it,” Alizzeo said. “You can see I basically live out of it.”

He is one of the many professional golfers who make a life out of traveling the country, playing in as many tournaments as he can.

This week, he and a bunch of his friends – also professional golfers, who in many cases travel together to share expenses – have landed at Fox Ridge Golf Club for the Maine Open.

“We want to support all of the state opens,” said Alizzeo, of Shrewsbury, Mass. “It used to be that the New England Tour was designed to be around the state opens, and it’s nice that Maine allows professionals from across New England to play in them.”

Numbers at the Maine Open have drifted downward in recent years because the many incarnations of New England tours have started to run tournaments at the same time.

This year, there is a shift among those players, who are now playing more of the state opens, and fewer of the tour’s events.

“This is a better tournament,” Alizzeo said. “Last year, on the New England tour, we had 130 players, every week. At the end of the season, we had some problems of whether we were going to get paid or not. … This year, they don’t have the numbers that they had, they lost 70 players to other tours – bigger, better, elsewhere – and that tour costs $1,100 a week to play on. There’s a tournament this week for them, or I could put up 300 dollars to win the same amount of money, I’m going to play here.”

Alizzeo isn’t alone. His practice partners Monday – Geoff Fisk and Matt Donovan – are among the golfers with whom he travels all summer.

“We’re all friends out here,” Alizzeo said. “It’s a fun time.”

Alizzeo’s position is common among minor-tour professionals, but his is not the only type of story.

On one end of the spectrum are newer professionals, like Adam Carlucci of Franklin, Mass. He’s been a professional for less than a year.

“I can’t swing $1,000 entry fees,” Carlucci said. “This was more of an economical decision, and I want to gain experience against a quality field.”

At the other end are pros like Don Robertson, of Irving, Texas. Robertson is playing in his 30th Maine Open, having played since 1977. He won the event in 1981, and he continues to make the trek to Maine each summer.

“Thirty years ago, I kind of came up here on a whim,” Robertson said. “We just loved it. The weather was great, even in the rain it was nice. It was different. The courses were pretty, we had a great time, met a lot of great people.”

It was enough to keep him coming back.

“Now, later on on the back nine of a mediocre career, you just do it for fun. You get to compete, we come up to see the same people we’ve become friends with over the years. If I can make enough to pay for the trips, that’s great.”


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