By Mike LaBella
---- — Two young golfers showed how it’s done when they landed perfect shots at the 44th annual Haverhill Gazette Hole-in-One Contest.
They were among six people who made hole-in-one shots at this year’s event, which saw three perfect autumn days last week, followed by one drizzly and chilly day.
The event, held at Garrison Golf Center on Hilldale Avenue, raised $5,059, about the same amount as last year. The money will go to help local families who would otherwise go without gifts for their children during the holiday season.
“I think it went very well,” said Mary Murphy, who, along with her husband, Ted Murphy, has hosted the contest for decades. “We had three very busy days, then on Saturday it was kind of drizzly and cold. But we still did well.’’
During the first night of the contest, 13-year-old Michael Strazzere of Reading landed a shot just 32 inches from the hole, qualifying him for a prize.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Michael, who returned the following night to try his luck again along with his godfather Jeff Howard of Methuen.
Golfers paid $8 for a bucket of balls, which they drove toward a hole 125 yards away. Those landing closest to the pin won prizes donated by local businesses and individuals. The prizes included golf equipment and gift certificates.
The first hole in one of the event came last Thursday night, the second night of the contest, when 10-year-old Josh Lavallee, a fifth-grader at Bradford Elementary School and a regular at Garrison Golf, started swinging at his second bucket of balls. He landed a prize-winning shot and eventually claimed his prize of a new club.
“I was shocked when it went in,” Josh said.
Bill Brennan, 67, comes to the event every year. He was with his friend John Abruzzi, 61.
“We have a lot of fun and the money goes to a good cause,” Brennan said.
Members of the Haverhill High School golf team volunteered at the event, waiting at the side of the fairway. They watched for balls landing close to the pin or in the hole, then held up play so they could match the numbered prize-winning balls to their owners.
“We golf here and Mrs. Murphy asked us to help out,” said sophomore grader Sal Albano. “It’s a good time, it’s for charity and we get free hot chocolate.”
“It feels good to know we’re helping to raise money for kids who might not get anything for Christmas,” said Joshua Smith, a freshman. “It makes us feel especially good.”
Haverhill High freshman Shea Bruneau didn’t have much luck on his first night of the contest.
“I had a couple of close ones, but none of them were winners,” Shea said.
Persistence paid off for Shea, as he eventually got the hole in one he was hoping for.
Jane Dichard of Haverhill is a long-time volunteer at the event and returns every year in hopes of repeating her 1999 hole in one that landed her a pair of airline tickets.
“I’ve had measurements since, but no hole in one,” she said.
Members of the Haverhill High and Whittier Regional High Key Clubs helped by sorting and distributing balls to participants.
Top prizes included clubs, bags and balls.
Mary Murphy said the adult hole-in-one winners included: Kevin Demarais, who played golf for Haverhill High in the 1980s; Mike Kraynak, a regular at the annual event; local bowler Chris Sargent; and Walter Srybny, whose family is well known in the area.
Murphy’s grandson, Mike Murphy of Wethersfield, Conn., didn’t get a hole in one, but he came close when one of his shots landed four inches from the hole.
Prizes can be picked up any day between 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
These golfers each scored a hole in one:
Josh Lavallee,10, of Haverhill
Shea Bruneau, 14, Haverhill High junior varsity golf team
Kevin Demarais of Haverhill
Walter Srybny of Haverhill
Mike Kraynak of Bradford
Chris Sargent of Haverhill