Caleb Manuel shoots from the third tee during the final round of the 104th Maine Amateur Championship golf tournament Thursday at Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

ROCKPORT — The third hole of the Samoset Resort Golf Course is easily one of the more 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 par 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.”

A tee shot that sails left or any shot that goes beyond the green, and the ball will likely never see daylight again. The rocks also cut short into the fairway. If a golfer wants to play aggressively, a straight shot essentially carries — for a split second — 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 to the left on the green, it adds yet another element of danger. If a golfer wants to hit a shot directly for the pin, it means hitting 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.

Though he bogeyed the hole during the first round 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, head golf pro at the Samoset. “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, from Brunswick Golf Club, shoots from the third tee during the final round of the 104th Maine Amateur Championship golf tournament Thursday at Samoset Resort Golf Course in Rockport. Spaulding won the junior division. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Sixteen of the 44 golfers who made the cut for the final round Thursday bogeyed the hole. Four made double-bogey. Only Ricky Jones and Jace Pearson made birdies. The Samoset is the home course for Jones.

One golfer who didn’t struggle with the hole was runner-up Ron Kelton, who finished the tournament with a 2-under 211. Kelton made par on Tuesday and Thursday, and actually birdied the hole during the second round 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 Am on Thursday with a 13-under 200, was not immune to No. 3, either. During the second round Wednesday, Manuel went just left of the green, his ball landing on the rocky beach. Manuel was forced to take a drop, where he chipped and 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, Manuel hit a second shot onto the green and made an easy putt 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 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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