U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Semifinalists Dull, Cooke Create Kinship in Caddie Yard May 30, 2017 | Village of Pinehurst, N.C. By Bill Fields

Marc Dull (right) and Chip Brooke first met as caddies at Streamsong Resort and the friendship continued through their love of the game. (USGA/Chris Keane)

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Most of the days that Marc Dull goes 36 holes he has somebody else’s bag on his shoulder, but on a partly cloudy Tuesday at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club he was swinging the clubs not carrying them. His friend and fellow caddie, Tim Tucker, was along for the walk and none too pleased that the weather forecast influenced what Dull had packed for the Round of 16 and quarterfinals of the 3rd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

“I don’t have much in my bag,” said Dull. “He got mad at me today because I brought my rain gear because there was a 30 percent chance of rain. He was giving me a hard time all day.”

But they were the complaints of one buddy to another, good-natured if not G-rated, and by day’s end – when Dull and partner, Chip Brooke, with pal Matt Torri on his bag, had won two matches on iconic Course No. 2 to advance to Wednesday morning’s semifinals – there were plenty of smiles. The side was set to face 17-year-olds Shuai Ming Wong and Frankie Capan at 7:20 a.m.

Dull, 31, runner-up in the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur, is a fulltime caddie working at Streamsong Resort in central Florida. Brooke, 41, is a former caddie at Bandon Dunes, where his father managed the caddie program for about a dozen years. Chip went to Streamsong in 2012 to organize the caddie program and hired Dull the following year. 

“We didn’t really know each other, but we both loved to play golf and gamble a little bit and just developed a friendship,” said Brooke, who left the caddie yards to work for a lumber company. “Now, going on five years later he’s one of my best friends. I’m a single dad and Marc has a son. We have that bond there too.”

Added Dull: “It’s turned into a great relationship in golf and outside of golf.”

Their caddie backgrounds did more than lead to a friendship and successful golf partnership. Each member of the side credits their work as caddies for helping their golf games.

“When I was just playing, I was always a super aggressive player,” Dull said. “But caddying, you realize the smart play is just chopping it out, whether you’re with a scratch player or a 12-handicap. Just get it out and make par the hard way. It’s totally changed my mindset. It’s helped me be much more conservative and patient.”

In match play, according to Brooke, percentage, grind-it-out golf can go a long way. “Just stay in the hole,” he said. “You might not hole out for a par, but as long as your opponent is at least thinking that could happen, it can have an effect.”

If Dull and Brooke win the title Wednesday, it won’t be the first USGA national championship for the Dull family. Marc’s late great-grandfather, Dexter Daniels, won the 1961 and 1966 U.S. Senior Amateur. Should Wednesday turn into another 36-hole day for Dull, physical fatigue shouldn’t be an issue either.

“I do 36 quite a bit caddying,” he said. “Two years ago when I got to the [U.S. Mid-Amateur] final, I wasn’t physically tired. It’s mentally tiring, because you’re grinding over every four-, six-, 12-footer. It’s more mentally tiring than physical.”

After finishing his quarterfinal match, Brooke was excited that his daughters, Addison and Peyton, his fiancé, Lauren Wallace, and his father, were traveling to North Carolina to watch the semifinal match.

“I’ll be raring to go,” Brooke said. “It’s such an unbelievable experience playing in a USGA event, and this is only my second one. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know Marc is on my team. We’ve played so much golf against each other, because no one will ever play us both, to be on the other side of that is great.”

If they end up as the winning side come late Wednesday afternoon, it will be even better than that.

Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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