MD native Denny McCarthy honors late Good Counsel golfer at The Masters

MD native Denny McCarthy honors late Good Counsel golfer at The Masters

OLNEY, Md. (DC News Now) — Only a small percentage of golfers get to play at The Masters, alongside the beautiful azaleas, on the heavenly greens of Augusta National Golf Club. Montgomery County, Maryland native Denny McCarthy is one of those lucky few.

600 miles away, the Good Counsel high school golf team in Olney, Maryland, is cheering on McCarthy, the No. 30 men’s golfer in the world, checking on his scores as they prepare for a Friday afternoon practice.

“McCarthy didn’t come to Good Counsel. He went to Georgetown Prep,” Good Counsel golf head coach Dan Booth said. “But they’re in our catholic school family.

The Falcons and McCarthy have a special bond. It happens to be a yellow rubber ducky.

In October 2023, Good Counsel golfer Madison Smith passed away at 16-years-old from cancer.

When Smith passed, the Good Counsel golf team decided to add yellow rubber ducky patches to their game day uniform.

“Her favorite animal was a duck and her favorite color was yellow,” Booth told DC News Now.

The Smith and McCarthy families are close with each other.

“She played golf and she really liked me and a couple other players out here, but I got to know her really well over the last two or three years,” McCarthy said. “I played a couple rounds of golf with her and she’s just the sweetest girl.”

For The Masters, McCarthy decided to put a custom yellow rubber ducky on to his golf bag.

“Her favorite thing was a rubber ducky. Her favorite color was yellow and she loved rubber duckies,” McCarthy said. “So I put a rubber ducky on my golf bag in honor of her.”

At Good Counsel, Smith was a key member of the golf team, even while battling cancer.

“The way she kind of handled herself through the couple year battle she had was amazing,” McCarthy said. “She never complained. She was extremely resilient.”

Smith earned Washington Post All-Met second-team honors as a sophomore. She also finished her last season playing second-place in the WCAC tournament.

“We learned so much from Madison,” Booth said. “How hardworking she is, how humble she is, how resilient she is. That’s some of the things that made her a great student, a great friend and a great golfer.”

Booth noted that it was unusual for freshman to have a key role on the the team, but she had a key role her freshman year as well.

“She always brought a positive attitude, bad shot, good shot,” Good Counsel golf team senior vice captain Trey Perrell said. “If she won a match, if she lost, she always still had a smile on her face.”

Whether it’s McCarthy at The Masters or the Falcons hitting the links in the DMV, Smith is still fresh on their mind.

“Every time you do hit a good shot, you definitely feel like she was watching over you,” Good Counsel golf team senior captain Thomas Margison said. “That’s kind of the reason why you hit it. Very happy to be playing for more than just the team, more than just myself, but for her as well.”

Sitting at four over par and tied for 35th on the leaderboard as of Friday night, playing for Smith, McCarthy made the cut entering the third round.

“I think about her all the time,” McCarthy said. “So honestly I learned probably way more from her in that couple years than she could have learned from me.”

Smith’s team said she may not have been thrilled about all the attention from the rubber ducky.

“May have been slightly embarrassed because of the attention. She didn’t love the attention and the spotlight,” Booth said. “I’m sure she’s up there and I bet she’s got a big smile on her face.”

While Smith’s absence is heavy on the team, the Good Counsel golfers take pride in knowing that she’s now making national headlines in Augusta.

“She was so close to me and now I see that it’s being represented on a worldwide level. People all over the world watch it. I’m excited for people to be able to see Madison’s legacy,” Margison said. “That rubber ducky kind of represents her legacy, what she stood for and I’m very excited for the entire world to see that.”

According to Booth, every time the team prays, they think of Madison, before the first hole of a match and after the 18th. Donning yellow rubber duckies on their sleeves, as they broke down their practice Friday, the team together said “Madison” and “family.”

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