Media Contact: Megan Penny, Communications and Development Manager
603-356-5461 ext. 2264
Golfers usually measure distances in hundreds of yards. When Memorial Hospital hosts its 40th Annual Golf Tournament on July 16, six-feet will be the most important distance to remember.
The annual hospital event takes place July 16 at the North Conway Country Club amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 90 golfers, a few less than usual, will participate. The golf game will be the same, but golfers will start at different times during the day, the traditional evening banquet is replaced with an end of round meal prepared by North Conway Country Club chefs, and a video of the day's events posted the next day on the web.
Tournament proceeds will support students attending the new medical assistant program at White Mountains Community College. The program was originally scheduled to launch this fall but has been delayed due to COVID-19. According to Mary Vigeant, president of the hospital's medical staff and co-chair for the tournament, this program will "provide skilled and talented healthcare staff for the hospital as well as local healthcare offices."
Co-chair Bayard Kennett was unsure whether there would be an event until Governor Sununu issued the proper guidance. Even with this guidance, planners were aware that holding the tournament would send a message to the community that we've entered a new phase of the pandemic and that it was important to model how to hold an event safely and responsibly. "We reviewed all aspects of the tournament, from the golfing to the food to the awards ceremony to make sure we could hold a safe event." The committee even met virtually for most of the spring for additional protection.
North Conway Country Club Manager Kevin Walker says the club follows the governor's guidelines for golfing, including arriving 10 minutes before tee time, using personal clubs (not rentals), not using a caddy, and wearing a mask on the course when social distancing is difficult. "Before golfers arrive, hospital volunteers will work with the NCCC to disinfect each golf cart using the same cleaners that are used at the hospital," Kennett adds. Organizers have also staggered tee times, every 12 minutes from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The usual after-golf dinner and awards is replaced by an outdoor meal at socially-distanced tables following their round and an awards ceremony using Facebook Live.
In deciding the time was right to hold their 40th tournament, hospital planners also knew the 2020 event would look different from previous events. And that, Kennett says, is fine with him. "I'm going to miss our evening dinner. Golfers will have staggered starts and finishes to encourage social distancing. The awards ceremony will be virtual. But we will still have done a wonderful thing for our hospital and community by raising funds to support scholarships for future hospital workers."
Despite the late start in planning, Memorial Hospital director of development Melody Nester is thrilled at the response from sponsors and golfers. "We so appreciate our golf tournament sponsors and golfers who have continued to support us even during these challenging times. It is a source of encouragement and will make a big difference in our efforts to continue to meet the health needs of our community."
For more information about Memorial Hospital's Golf Tournament, presented by The Coleman Companies, visit www.memorialhospitalnh.org/golf.