ACE GROUP CLASSIC: 'Disco Dave' puts his passion for golf, life on display in pro-am

David Albers/Staff
- 'Disco' Dave Bierbrauer celebrates a shot from the bunker while playing in the ACE Group Classic pro-am on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, at Twin Eagles in Naples.

Photo by DAVID ALBERS // Buy this photo

David Albers/Staff - "Disco" Dave Bierbrauer celebrates a shot from the bunker while playing in the ACE Group Classic pro-am on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, at Twin Eagles in Naples.

— Golf has always been a major part of Dave Bierbrauer’s life. The Marco Island resident has played the game longer than he can remember, taught it for decades and spends at least five days a week on the course.

After dedicating much of his life to golf, the game might now be keeping him alive.

Disco Dave, as he’s known for his past days as a DJ, has Stage IV lung cancer. It is the ninth time the disease has surfaced in his body since 2008, and it’s gotten more aggressive. Bierbrauer is undergoing chemotherapy and experimental drugs to reduce a tumor near his heart, which his doctors are most concerned about.

Through the past four years, eight surgeries, 80 radiation treatments and 40 hours total hours of chemo, Bierbrauer’s passion for golf has helped him survive. Despite facing a life-threatening illness, Disco Dave had one of the best days of his life Wednesday when he played in the ACE Group Classic pro-am.

“If you don’t have three things, you’re going to lose the battle,” Bierbrauer, 56, said following his round. “You’ve got to have your therapy, you’ve got to have something you believe in, and then you’ve got to have your passion.

“Golf is my passion. When I’m out practicing or playing it takes my mind completely off of cancer.”

The disease ravishing his body was the furthest thing from Bierbrauer’s mind Wednesday. Playing with Champions Tour professional Dan Forsman, Disco Dave and three other amateurs got to play a round on TwinEagles Club’s Talon Course.

His body worn down by fighting cancer, Bierbrauer showed from the start of Wednesday’s round that he can still play. Off the tee on No. 7, where his group started, Bierbrauer hit an arrow-straight drive that his partners used in the best-ball format.

“Not bad for an old guy,” he shouted as he dropped his club and threw his arms up to the delight of the spectators.

He might not look like his former self, but Disco Dave displayed the charisma that endeared him to the Marco Island golf community the past 30 years. He drew laughs from his playing partners and entertained the group of fans, which seemed to grow as the round went on and people learned Bierbrauer’s story.

“Dave was a lot of fun. We hammed-and-egged it,” said TwinEagles member Jane Kapp, who played with Bierbrauer. “I take my hat off to him for what he’s going through and how he still has such a positive attitude.”

On the ninth hole Disco Dave hit another long line drive off the tee then nearly hit the pin off a bounce on his approach shot. A crowd of more than two dozen let out a collective gasp of disappointment when Bierbrauer’s putt grazed the edge of the cup on its way past the hole.

It was a dream come true for Bierbrauer, a former teaching pro at Lely Resort who now works in the club’s guest services. He had hoped to play in the pro-am before, but the event has a long waiting list.

With his Disco Dave’s future uncertain — the five-year survival rate for Stage IV lung cancer is less than five percent — the members at Lely Resort came together to raise the $3,500 entry fee. Bierbrauer’s friends gathered almost $18,000 total that will go toward his medical bills.

One of Bierbrauer’s followers Wednesday was Lely junior Brandon Black, who watched the round with his grandfather, Bill Maguire. Black, 16, is a junior at Lely High School who was one of Bierbrauer’s first students more than 10 years ago.

Black said he still goes to Bierbrauer when he needs help on his swing. Knowing him for so long, Black knows what playing in the pro-am meant to his teacher.

“This means the world to him,” Black said. “He’s always wanted to try to get on tour before this all happened. Now that he can’t, this means everything to him. It’s great to see him out here.”

Bierbrauer’s optimism on the course was infectious. He says staying positive is the only way to deal with the struggles of cancer. Still playing golf five days a week also helps keep his spirits up.

By living his dream, Disco Dave recharged not only his passion for golf, but for life. The pro-am helped him gather the courage he’ll need to continue his cancer treatments. Bierbrauer’s next chemotherapy session is scheduled for Thursday.

“What a week,” Bierbrauer said. “You have to keep going, you have to stay positive. I’m certain I touched some lives this week. The support of my club, my guests and Marco Island has been phenomenal.”

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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