By Bill Cantwell
---- — One of the highlights of the year for local golfers is three week away.
So too is a chance to help needy families during the holidays.
The 44th annual Haverhill Gazette Santa Fund Hole-in-One Contest will be Oct. 9 through 12 at the popular Garrison Golf Center on Hilldale Avenue.
This year’s contest will run from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of that week, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
In its previous 43 years, the contest has raised nearly $200,000. Last year, it raised more than $5,000. The money goes to organizations such as the Salvation Army for distribution to needy families who otherwise would go without gifts for their children during the holiday season.
The contest raises money through participants paying $8 for a bucket of balls, which they drive toward a hole 125 yards away. Those landing closest to the pin win prizes donated by local businesses and individuals. The prizes include golf equipment and gift certificates for local restaurants.
Garrison Golf owners Ted and Mary Murphy and their family have been running the contest for decades. The event has many volunteers, including members of the Haverhill High Golf Team, which is coached by the Murphys’ son Kevin Murphy; and members of the Key Clubs at Haverhill High and Whittier Regional High.