FALMOUTH — Jim Emerson stood near the 10th tee and watched as Korn Ferry Tour professional golfer Anders Albertson of Houston roped an iron off the tee some 250 yards.

“It’s amazing how easy they swing. Like they’re taking a practice swing. And it just flies,” Emerson said.

Emerson, the president and owner of Emerson Toyota in Auburn, was one of roughly 160 amateur golfers happy to play a round with pro golfers Wednesday at Falmouth Country Club. They were part of the Live and Work in Maine Open’s pro-am event, which benefit’s the tournament’s charitable cause, the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.

The 72-hole tournament starts Thursday. But pro-ams are an integral part of professional golf tours, since each tour stop is responsible for fundraising for a charity.

The Live and Work in Maine Open has a five-year commitment with both the Korn Ferry Tour and the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. The Korn Ferry Tour is the top developmental arm of the PGA Tour.

The cost to enter a foursome of amateurs for Wednesday’s pro-am was $6,000, with 41 groups participating. Each group played with two professional golfers, one for the first nine holes, another for the next nine.

“For local corporations, this is a great way for them to extend an opportunity to have some fun to their employees or their own clients, and at the same time they’re paying it forward,” said Sue Dolinar, the vice president of philanthropy at Maine Medical Center. “And we’re just thrilled because we put those dollars right to work.”

Win Dodge of Bill Dodge Auto Group said he sponsored a team (in addition to being a tournament sponsor) for two primary reasons. The first was his longtime friendship with Brian Corcoran, the CEO of Shamrock Sports and Entertainment and executive director of the tournament.

“And when I found out that their charity was going to be the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, I wasn’t going to miss it,” Dodge said. “My son spent his first 30 days at the hospital when he was born, actually both our twins did.”

For John Webb, the golfing opportunity was the biggest draw. A lawyer based in Saco and the assistant general manager of the Sanford Mainers baseball team, Webb said he has become an “addicted” fan of the Korn Ferry Tour.

“When I found out it was going to be here in Falmouth, I was happy to hear it, and when I had a chance to play in it, I was thrilled,” said Webb, who wears prosthetics on his legs. “I made them aware of the fact that I was a double amputee. There aren’t many heavy guys with no legs playing golf and they said, ‘Come on out,’ which I thought was great, to be that inclusive.”

Webb was making the turn after playing his first nine holes with pro David Kocher, who is ranked 33rd on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. The top 25 at the end of the regular season are awarded PGA Tour cards. Webb said that he’ll be rooting for Kocher, not only this week but for years down the line.

“Absolutely. Because when you find out what a nice, nice guy he is, and as talented as you can imagine, I’ll be a huge fan,” Webb said. “It’s like baseball with the Mainers. You can’t wait to see some of your kids make it to the bigs.”

For the professional golfers, pro-ams provide another chance to view the course where they will be competing. They can take an extra shot or two along the way as they might in a practice round. But they also are the front-line representatives for the Korn Ferry Tour. There is a responsibility to interact with the paying customers.

“I like it. It gets a little monotonous playing with pros every single round,” said Ryan McCormick, 29, a New Jersey pro who is 69th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. “It’s nice to be with people who are excited to be out here who you can talk to about something other than golf.”

Harry Hall, 23, of Cornwall, England, a pro since 2019, is coming off his first career win Sunday in Wichita, Kansas. It boosted him in the point standings from 83rd all the way to 36th. Another strong showing in Maine would have the 6-foot-4 Englishman within range of the top 25.

“I think I’m even more motivated now,” Hall said. “I’m so close. So close to getting on the PGA Tour.”

But even with so much riding on his own preparation, Hall said he is happy to divert a couple hours of focused practice time for the pro-am.

“Without the people in the pro-ams, these tournaments wouldn’t be running,” Hall said. “A lot of (the amateurs) are sponsors and we’re very appreciative of what they do for us. They allow us to play the game that we do, and anything that we can give back to those willing to help us, we will.”

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