AUBURN – It was pretty good sailing conditions.

With winds of 10 mph and gusts of 17 or more, Tuesday’s weather was conducive for setting sail and cruising the high seas.

If you were trying to navigate the cozy confines of the Fox Ridge Golf Club, that was a different endeavor.

“It picked up pretty quick, probably by our third hole,” said Bob Darling, the Fox Ridge pro. “It started blowing pretty quick. It wasn’t blowing on the first tee like last year, but three holes in, it was.”

Darling was in the first threesome to tee off in the opening round of the 89th Charlie’s Maine Open. Wind was a significant factor last year when Ricky Jones won with a score of even par. Four golfers shot below par on opening day last year.

To the surprise of many, the wind reared up once again, limiting the number of low scores in similar fashion.

“I thought that would be one of the advantages with the 7 a.m. tee time, that we wouldn’t have any wind,” said Shawn Warren, who posted a 1-under 71. “Right from the first tee to the final shot, the wind was howling out there. The golf course is playing tough right now with the breeze coming up early like that.”

During Monday’s Pro-Am, there was barely a ripple of wind. Players talked about a different type of tournament. By Tuesday morning, the conversation changed.

“I had said 7 or 8 under,” said David Cummings, a Bath native, who finished at 76 Tuesday. “That’s what you’ve got to think, but 12 holes into it, I was 4 or 5 over.”

There would be lulls in the breeze at times, but then significant gusts would roar through. Though Jeff Seavey, the pro at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, is accustomed to breezes at Jameson Point overlooking Western Penobscot Bay, this was different.

“It’s harder here,” said Seavey, who shot a 77. “It swirls. There’s more elevation. Basically, at the Samoset, when it blows, it’s blowing in one direction. It may be blowing 25 or 30, but it’s in one direction.

At one point, Darling’s group couldn’t determine which way the wind was blowing.

“We were up on the 13th tee,” Darling said. “The flag was blowing a little to the left. The tops of the trees behind it are going to the right. We’re throwing grass up, and it’s going straight at it. We had three different directions.”

With periods of heavy rains Monday, the greens were a little softer, and the rough isn’t as lush as last year. That gave golfers some relief, but those conditions aren’t expected to last.

“You’ve got to really try to control your ball,” Darling said. “You don’t want to launch it up in the air too much.”

Players had to be patient. Playing it safe and maintaining position for the next round was the prevalent strategy.

“You’ve just got to take it for what it is and hit the smart shots,” Warren said. “You don’t have to shoot really low. Par is a great score out here.”

The winds subsided significantly as the day wore on. Only a slight breeze was evident by late afternoon, but greens got more challenging. Few challenged Warren’s early score.

“You’re not going to have to shoot ridiculously low out here,” Warren said. “So the fact that I shot 1-under out here leaves me right where I need to be.”


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