Santa's hoping for lots of help next week at the annual Hole-in-One Contest.

No, he doesn't need any volunteers to work the event — he's got plenty of them lined up. St. Nick is, however, looking for people willing to give a few bucks to a good cause and have some fun in the process.

The 49th annual Hole-in-One Contest to benefit the Gazette Santa Fund is Wednesday, Oct. 9, through Saturday, Oct. 12, at Murphy's Garrison Golf Center.

In the nearly half-century since the Murphys began hosting the Hole-in-One Contest, it has raised more than $200,000 for the Santa Fund.

The money comes from people who show up and spend a few bucks to for a bucket of balls to hit toward the hole 120 yards away. There is also the short-distance putt, which participants can use to qualify for a chance at a big-money grand prize.

If you don’t pick up a golf club, there’s still be plenty to do at the event. You can catch up with old friends, hang out and watch golfer after golfer take a swing for some winnings and for the most important "prize'' of all — supporting the effort to help struggling local people financially during the holidays.

Mary Murphy and her husband, Ted, run the event. She said it’s is a combination of a charitable event and a social occasion.

“You don’t have to be a golfer,’’ she said of people who participate. “You can meet up with your friends or see people you haven’t seen for a while, and it’s for a good cause.’’

Here’s more about the Hole-in-One Contest, which draws golfers from across the region:

Dates: Oct. 9 to 12, Wednesday through Saturday of that week.

Times: 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Where: Murphy’s Garrison Golf Center, 654 Hilldale Ave.

How: Participants pay $10 for a bucket of balls and drive them toward a hole 120 yards away. Those with holes-in-one or shots closest to the hole receive prizes — and bragging rights.

Winnings: Prizes include golf equipment and gift certificates donated by local businesses.

Putting contest: One person will have a chance to win $5,000.

Money raised: Goes to the Gazette Santa Fund, which each year makes it possible for local people who struggle financially to enjoy the holidays.

The putting contest is relatively new. In it, all participants will putt from a starting distance of 20 feet. If they sink that putt, they will go on to farther distances. The contest continues until a single participant remains.

That single participant, who either sank a putt longer than other people made or came closer to the pin than anyone else, goes on as the sole finalist to putt for the $5,000 prize. The finalist will putt from 50 feet away on the final day of the Hole-in-One Contest. To win the $5,000, the finalist must sink that putt.

Anyone who sinks a 20-foot putt earlier in the event will have their name entered into a raffle, with the winners’ names to be drawn on the last day of the Hole-In-One Contest. First prize in the raffle $150, second prize is $100 and third is $50.

Students from Haverhill High and Whittier Regional High volunteer each year to work the Hole-in-One Contest.


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