Mary Shanahan

Hey, Matt Kuchar! Wanna Go Play and Have Some Fun?

April 2021 IssueMaryShannahan0421
by Edwina Hoyle
Photography by Cassidy Dunn Photography

Seriously, Matt! An open, bucket-list invitation to play a round of golf stands when (and if) you are ready. Mary Shanahan knows how to have fun, she’s a terrific golfer, and golfing with you is one of the few things she has on her bucket list. She works at the RBC Heritage and is the Vice-Chair of the front-9 marshals; and last year, Mary handed Matt a Coke. Also on her bucket list is to travel to Scotland and throw a caber. “You know, the telephone poles that are thrown by big guys in kilts,” she laughed. The only other things on her bucket list are to travel more and go on a ghost tour at a cemetery.

Mary began golfing at age 9 and continues today. Since she moved to Hilton Head in 2013 she has won the Club Championship at Hilton Head Country Club for seven of the past eight years. In 2015 she had rotator cuff surgery, so she couldn’t play, otherwise she may have clinched eight of eight. “Golf is a game that can’t be won, you can only play,” Mary said. “I play with great people of all skill sets and levels, and I still take lessons every year because something always goes wrong.”

She is a member of the Women’s Golf Association of Hilton Head, the Lowcountry Women’s Golf Association and Lowcountry Women Team Match Play. Through these groups, she has the opportunity to play many private clubs throughout the region.

Mary plays in a weekly women’s league at Hilton Head Country Club, as well as a mixed league, where she enjoys shaking things up in the name of fun. For example, she participates in an annual ladies league versus men’s league tournament, and in the last 13 years, the men have only won once. “Men tend not to putt out, but the ladies always putt out, so it gives us an advantage in the tournament,” Mary explained. The losing team (sorry, guys) have to wear tiaras and tutus and parade down the fairway. Another time Mary organized a Girls’ Nite Out 5-hole Shootout. Each player was given a water gun filled with booze to shoot down the throats of the eliminated players. Bets were made on who would be eliminated next, and then the ladies went to dinner—and kept the water guns going all night! Sometimes Mary and her golfing friends play golf backwards, and Halloween golf requires costumes. Games within games keep things interesting, playful and fun.

Mary grew up in Canada in a family with four kids when parents would tell you to get out of the house—to go outside and play, and just be home by the time the streetlights come on. “So I had to invent things to do to make the day go by. It’s just the way I grew up. So I use my energy to go somewhere, to do something. We should hang on to things we can still do…. I learned to ask ‘how can I make today different than yesterday and make it interesting?’ To break the monotony of doing the same thing, we can reinvent it and make it more fun,” Mary advised.

Her family taught her well to think outside the box, tweak an activity and be bold. In one instance, about a dozen adult family members took part in the ‘Dead Shanahan Hunt’ in a local cemetery in Ontario. They were on the lookout to see who could find the most Shanahan headstones. “It sounds morose, but it was such fun. But that’s what my family is like: Kind of crazy,” Mary said.

“My Dad loved to have fun. He loved horror movies, and so do I. He wanted us to make our own horror movie. So, we got all these masks and melted them on the barbecue to see how flesh would fall for our horror movie, but all we did was ruin the barbecue,” she laughed.

“I’ve sent people on scavenger hunts at Halloween where they have to collect things like a signed playbill from a local theater, a lamb, and then go to a cemetery to see how many dead there are. Some people actually counted graves, but the answer is that they’re all dead!”

During Covid this year, Mary was asked to participate in an online bingo game to support a school fundraiser for a friend’s child. Sitting around watching her friends just marking off their cards with crayons was boring, so she morphed the event into “Tag! You’re it karaoke.”

Mary loves to entertain, especially when her 15-year-old twin granddaughters visit. They know they must hand over their phones when they come through the front door, but they also know they will have much more fun with their grandmother than they would on their screens.

So, Matt Kuchar, what do you think now? Do you want to go play?