Sally Mahoney didn’t want typical. She wanted to go to her job knowing each day would be different. For the past 28 years as PGA head professional at O’Donnell Golf Club, the oldest golf course in the Coachella Valley, Mahoney found that opportunity.
“The fun thing about the job here has been is there’s great variety,” says Mahoney, who will be stepping down at the end of September and succeeded by Koll Farman. “Some of the larger clubs, you get kind of labeled into you’re either a merchandiser or you’re a teaching professional or tournament operations, but because we are a small operation, my job encompasses all of it and so the variety to your days is terrific.”
Her typical day could be helping to plan the opening party, calling a plumber to perform repairs, stocking the pro shop, making some sales, working on membership, or greeting a potential new member and giving them a ride around the golf course, she explains.
“I mean, every day you just never know what’s going to happen,” Mahoney says.
At one point Mahoney’s life was more predictable. She worked as a financial planner in the 1970s, but then she came out to Palm Springs with her parents. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s beautiful,’” Mahoney recalls. “Then I said, under my breath, ‘Everybody’s old’.” Then I thought, ‘It’s beautiful and everybody’s old,’ and I came out anyways.”
She returned to her golf roots that stretch back to playing since she was 12 growing up in Minnesota, and extended into college stints at Lamar University and Arizona State. When she moved to the valley, her playing experience taught her that was not the path she wanted to follow with golf.
“I am not the most competitive,” Mahoney says. “I liked amateur golf and I did qualify for a couple of professional events as an amateur. And I realized that I did not really have that type of competitiveness in me that would propel me to be out going from town to town and playing tour events. I decided early on that I wanted to have a home, have a family, and have that type of a life. And so, golf is what I was comfortable around, what I knew, what I enjoyed, and being a club professional would allow me to have that home life that I also wanted to have.”
Her first job in the valley was at Indian Wells Country Club, followed by Rancho Las Palmas where she met and married the late Dan Mahoney in 1980, who was the golf pro there, and then moved to Thunderbird Country Club.
Sally Mahoney with Robert Chenault.
During that same period, she earned her certification with the PGA of America to take advantage of her business sense and set her up to land the position at O’Donnell in 1992.
“The fun thing about the job at O’Donnell is there’s great variety,” Mahoney says. “Some of the larger clubs, you get kind of labeled into you’re either a merchandiser or you’re a teaching professional or tournament operations, but because we are a small operation, my job encompasses all of it and so the variety to your days is terrific.
“The other thing that I would say is this is really a social club as well, and the members are really welcoming to each other,” she adds. “All of our things are mixers and we basically do the pairings for a lot of the things, and so it really makes for nice friendships with the people mixing around.”
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