HAVERHILL — It’s time to swing away and see who’s the most accurate golfer — and how much support Santa will get this year.
This week, the annual Hole-in-One Contest takes place to benefit the Santa Fund of the Haverhill Gazette, a sister publication to The Eagle-Tribune.
The 49th annual Hole-in-One event began Wednesday and continues Thursday through Saturday at Murphy’s Garrison Golf Center on Hilldale Avenue.
In the nearly half-century since the Murphy family began hosting the Hole-in-One Contest, it has raised more than $200,000 for the Santa Fund.
The money comes from people who spend a few bucks 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 golf, there’s still be plenty to do at the event. You can catch up with friends and watch golfer after golfer take their swings for some winnings and to support helping local people who struggle financially during the holidays.
Mary Murphy and her husband, Ted, run the contest. She said it’s a combination of a charitable event and a social occasion.
“You don’t have to be a golfer,’’ she said. “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 are details about the Hole-in-One Contest, which draws golfers from across the region:
Remaining days: Thursday through Saturday of this week.
Times: 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 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.
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 is $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.