Except for a caddy’s advice, the rules of golf prohibit outside help when hitting a shot. But the Mahoney brothers found a unique way around that obstacle a couple of months ago.
Waterford natives Dave and Dan Mahoney grew up among six children, and eventually developed an unbreakable bond around the game of golf.
“My brother and I played two or three days a week for more than 20 years. We started playing in the 1970s,” said Dave Mahoney, the president and CEO of Noble Gas Solutions in Albany. “We had a bond of brotherhood and a bond of golf.”
Dan Mahoney, a Viet Nam veteran known for his toughness, ran into a horrible string of bad luck when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1979. He eventually beat that cancer, but was diagnosed with cancer again, on the left temporal lobe of his brain, seven years later.
Brain surgery followed, and Dan Mahoney once again beat cancer. But because of the strong medications he was taking, he had to quit his sales job, and went on disability.
It was then that the Mahoneys rekindled their passion for golf, and they played it together whenever they could.
“Dan was my best friend,” said Dave Mahoney. “We played tons of golf together. Golf was an escape for Dan. I told him many times that he should have written a book about his life, but then again, who would believe it?”
Dan Mahoney’s cancer came back a third time in 2010. He was originally told he had only 12 to 18 months to live, but he lasted four years. However, the golfing opportunities between the two brothers gradually faded away to a precious few.
Eventually last fall, Dan and Dave made a pact.
“All of the times we played golf together, neither one of us ever had a hole-in-one,” said Dave Mahoney. “Dan committed to make that happen for me, after he passed away. We told each other that when I had a hole-in-one, I would look up and smile, because I would know that it was for both of us, and that he was OK up in heaven.”
Dan Mahoney died Feb. 23, and exactly 23 days later, Dave Mahoney went on a golfing trip to Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
“I went with my lawyer, Sal Ferlazzo, and two other friends,” Dave Mahoney said.
“On the second hole, a 130-yard uphill par-3, I was the last one to hit. As I teed up the ball with my 8-iron, I whispered to Dan, ‘OK, buddy, you and me, right here.’ I proceeded to hit a beautiful shot, directly at the pin. I didn’t see it go in the hole, but I knew it was close.”
When Mahoney and his pals drove their carts up to the green, there was one ball about 15 feet past the cup, but one of his friends told him it was his ball and that Dave’s must have gone into the hole.
“We walked up onto the green, and there it was, a hole-in-one. The three guys with me started yelling, but I just couldn’t. I just turned around and walked back to my cart and cried,” Mahoney said.
“I firmly believe that Dan made it happen, and that he was telling me that he was OK in heaven. It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget.”
Dave Mahoney is now 59, and has been a member of Wolferts Roost Country Club since 1990. He plays to a solid 12 handicap, and he’s been fortunate to have recorded five hole-out eagles on par-4s down through the years.
“I’ve done some neat stuff, but nothing like that hole-in-one,” Mahoney said. “It’s funny, because after I got that hole-in-one, I had double bogeys on the next two holes. My friends told me to calm down, because they knew I wanted to frame that scorecard, and I wouldn’t have liked to frame it with such a bad score.”
Mahoney shot a 43 on the front, but settled down and came back with a 37 on the back for a tidy 80, that he called an “awesome round.”
“I’ve shot 75 twice, once at the Roost and once at Saratoga Spa, but I never did anything like that hole-in-one,” he said.
So much for the no-help rule. The Mahoneys double-teamed on that ace, but nobody is going to call a penalty on them.