Denny McCarthy honors 16-year-old family friend with rubber ducky on his 2024 Masters bag
CMC Masters

Denny McCarthy honors 16-year-old family friend with rubber ducky on his 2024 Masters bag


Denny McCarthy is making his Masters debut in 2024, just days after nearly breaking through for his first PGA Tour win at the Valero Texas Open.

The Maryland native and University of Virginia product has been captivated by Augusta National and brought his father and brother to play the club during a practice round ahead of his Masters debut. McCarthy also has another person on his mind at Augusta National, and he's honoring her this week with a rubber duck on his bag and his footwear.

McCarthy is donning the rubber duck in honor of Madison Smith, who family friend was just 16 years old when she passed away in October 2023 following a multi-year battle with cancer.

"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. "You know, played a couple rounds of golf with her and she was just the sweetest girl."

Having made a personal connection to Madison, McCarthy wanted to have a special tribute to her on display this week.

"Her favorite thing was a rubber ducky and her favorite color was yellow, and she loved rubber duckies, so I put a rubber ducky on my golf bag in honor of hers and got some custom shoes that my wife and a company, Payntr, that I wear they designed and one of the insoles has a ducky in the show," he explained.

McCarthy was moved and continues to be inspired by Smith's strength and courage through her battle.

"The way she kind of handled herself through the couple-year battle she had was amazing," he said. "She never complained. She was extremely resilient. She was just one of the nicest people I've ever met, so this just kind of paying honor to her, respect to her. I think about her all the time.

"So honestly, I learned probably way more from her in that couple years than maybe she could have learned from me or something. She taught me a lot of the life lessons were kind of carry that on with me from now on."

McCarthy with Madison Smith's family ahead of the Masters

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

Ryan talks about golf on various social platforms:

X or Twitter:

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.