Alumni Gathering and Golf Tourney Held for First Time in Two Years

by Pat Hussey

MORRISVILLE – The fourth edition of the Hardwick Academy/Hazen Union Alumni Gathering and Masters Memorial Golf Tournament is in the books and another fun-filled day played out on Saturday at Ryder Brook Golf Course in Morrisville.

The event was last held in 2019. Then, the COVID pandemic got in the way and  it was not held in either 2020 or 2021. Though the attendance numbers were down this year, the festivities remained robust.

The Masters Memorial Golf Tournament had two fields, the first going out at 10 a.m Saturday, followed by the second at around 1:30 p.m. A total of 82 golfers turned out on the day, with a couple groups trying their luck twice.

Meanwhile, the alumni attendance was down from 2019, but it was a busy day in Hardwick, which may have kept the numbers lower than usual. The Hazen baseball team had a quarterfinal game at home Saturday and the funeral of local businessman Richard Brochu was also held that morning.

The recent outbreaks of COVID may have also caused many alumni to decide not to attend this year. Estimates had the alumni crowd at around 60 people, down from over 150 that attended in 2019. The lower alumni attendance put a bite into the profit of the event, but it still managed to come out ahead, thanks in large part to the generosity of those who did attend.

The 50/50 raffle drew almost $500 and the golf crowd came up big with some very generous donations. In addition, scores of alumni opened their pocketbooks with donations benefiting both the Hardwick Historical Society and the Hazen Bell Project.

Local businesses were also generous, donating prizes for both attending alumni and the golfers. It all made for a wonderful afternoon of giving and receiving.

“The day was, in some ways, bittersweet with what happened to our good friend, fellow alumni and someone who was in charge of these alumni banquets for over 25 years,” said lead organizer Mike Clark, referring to the passing of Richard Brochu. His funeral was held at 11 a.m on Saturday.

“But it was still a great celebration, which is the way it should be,” continued Clark. “So we celebrated with what we had in attendance on Saturday. And based on the day’s celebration, I think we have some real good enthusiasm going forward.

“We had good support from Hardwick Academy alumni, we had good support from Hazen Union alumni, so I think we are headed in a very positive direction. We are going to continue these great celebrations going forward because the people are certainly coming out in support of this great event.”

It was 50th reunion for the Hazen Union Class of 1972. Attendees from that class included Mike Clark, Kevin Lanphear, Wayne Renaud, Mario Fradette, George Bailey, Claire Campbell, Lisa Hussey Hunt, Diane Dutton Boucher and John Lilley. Dave Burnham, also an event organizer and member of the class, couldn’t attend as he is awaiting a hip operation.

There was a two-way tie for first place at six-under par in the Master’s Memorial Golf Tournament. The 2019 champions, Dan and Sue Hudson, Darwin Thompson and Bob Fair returned to form and posted the day’s best round, along with the foursome of Joe Mulligan, Neal Mulligan, Patrick Mulligan and John Hogan.

A putting playoff was held to determine a champion. On the practice green, Clark laid out a putting competition. The two teams alternated putting attempts at a cup that was some 50 feet away. The team with the lowest total distance from the pin would determine a 2022 champion.

On the strength of Neal Mulligan’s putt, which rolled to within five inches of the flag, the Mulligan group prevailed to become the 2022 Masters champions. Neal Mulligan had a very good day because he was also the 50/50 raffle winner, taking home $235.

Three groups ended up in second place at five under par. The first to do it was the morning foursome of Dave LeCours, Karen LeCours, Brad Romero and Julius Rosendahl. Playing as a twosome, Elizabeth McCarthy and Tim Hogeboom also posted a sterling round of five under.

Later in the afternoon grouping, the foursome of Kevin Hussey, Rick Renaud and Dave and Cindy Wimette put down a round of five-under 30.

Golfers in the afternoon grouping also got to watch a very large black bear rumble his way across the fairways. The weather was sunny and ideal throughout the morning. A small thunderstorm rolled into the course in the afternoon creating some rain, but it was quite brief and the clouds completely cleared out by late afternoon. By around 6 p.m., the event came to a close.

Clark took the opportunity to poll the roughly 13 Hardwick Academy alumni if they would support an effort to restore the old Hardwick Academy bell.  The overwhelming majority supported restoring the bell and possibly moving it to the newly constructed bell tower at Hazen.

This year many alumni and friends helped out with the checking in process, which Clark said was a tremendous aid. He is hoping to involve even more alumni next year.