WALPOLE, N.H. -- Artist David Howell has donated one of his paintings to be raffled off next month to raise money for a local cause.
"Hooper’s Defense" will get a new home when one lucky raffle winner is drawn at the Hooper Golf Club’s member/guest dinner on Saturday, July 21. Proceeds will benefit the Hooper Defense Fund, or Save the Hooper Fund, a campaign started earlier in the year as an attempt to keep the club’s course.
A golf tournament will be held at the club that weekend and the raffle winner will be picked Saturday evening, during a dinner open to only the members/guest participants. Ronald J. Rosko, the club’s PGA golf professional, said the winner will be notified the day after the drawing.
Ticket prices are $5 for one, $20 for 5 or $50 for 15. Anyone interested can stop by the club’s pro shop to purchase tickets. Money can also be donated directly at the Savings Bank of Walpole.
Rosko said the land the course is on was bequeathed to the town 100 years ago in the form of the Hooper Trust. He said George Hooper was a local man who owned hundreds of acres of land and was very much into agriculture.
For the past 85 years, Rosko said, the club has leased the land from the trust. He said the lease is due for renewal at the end of this year.
"There have been some difficulties in renewing the lease, as far as non-cooperation from the Selectmen," Rosko said. A statement he released
Selectman Chas Street said the Hooper Study Committee has been meeting for the past seven or eight months and is expected to make a recommendation within the next 30 to 35 days on what should be done with the course.
Whitney Aldrich, chairman of the Walpole Board of Selectmen, said he does not understand what Rosko means by "non-cooperation." He said he is waiting for a recommendation from the study committee, which he said meets every Monday.
"The golf club is owned by Walpole and the trust," he said. "There are conditions on what we can and can’t do."
Aldrich said the club has paid rent to the Board of Selectmen since 1926. The Selectmen, he said, are the trustees of the Hooper Trust. But the board is bound by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office to make sure the club pays state property taxes, an issue that Aldrich said came to the surface in the past year or so.
"It’s a highly emotional issue," he said.
Rosko said the money from the raffle will go toward lawyer fees. He said the Hooper Defense Fund was established to help offset expenses accumulated in the on-going battle to maintain the club’s partnership with Walpole and the Hooper Trust.
Rosko said in a statement released last week that the club is paying $37,000 so the town can use the money to operate the Hooper Institute, which is directly across the street from the club.
The property once housed a mansion that was used as Watkin’s Tavern in 1788. The Hooper Golf Club was established on the property in 1923 and the golf club has served townspeople and visitors alike ever since.
Golf World magazine named Hooper the 11th best nine-hole course in the country in May 2010. In that same month Yankee magazine called Hooper "The best little golf club in New England."