Gazette Santa Hole in One Contest at Garrison Golf (photos for ET and Gazette)

RYAN HUTTON/Staff photo

Jason Petrou, of Haverhill, follows through after hitting a ball at the Garrison Golf Center range as part of the annual Gazette Santa Fund Hole-In-One contest.

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: Wed., Oct. 9 through Sat., Oct. 12.

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.

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

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

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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