U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Nothing Dull About Stasi's Streamsong Caddie This Week
May 23, 2016 | Bowling Green, Fla.
By Lisa D. Mickey
Four-time USGA champion Meghan Stasi knew a year ago that this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship would be a special week.
She had lined up the services of Marc Dull, now a third-year caddie at Streamsong Resort, to carry her bag for the 2nd Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, which is being staged on Streamsong Blue.
That arrangement for 2016 was sealed one week before Dull advanced into the finals of the 2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, where he lost 3 and 2 to Minnesotan Sammy Schmitz at John’s Island Club in Vero Beach, Fla.
“He’s a great player and a great caddie,” said the 2008 USA Curtis Cup competitor of Dull. “And he has a lot of local knowledge, which is why I have him on the bag this week. I’m looking forward to moving on with him in this championship.”
Stasi and partner Dawn Woodard charged back from 3 down after nine holes in Monday’s Round of 32 to square their match and ultimately defeat Tze Han Lin and Han Hsuan Yu of Chinese Taipei in 20 holes, advancing into Tuesday’s Round of 16.
And although an experienced and decorated player of Stasi’s ilk doesn’t need coddling, Dull knows how it feels to be in the heat of competition in national competition and he believes he knows how to help his player be at her best this week.
“She has all the tools, all the shots and she’s got all the game in the world,” said Dull, 30, of Lakeland, Fla. “I’m trying to make sure that when she steps into each shot, she knows exactly what she’s trying to do because if you can eliminate doubt, you free yourself up to play better.”
Those words are spoken about a player, by a player – one who nearly joined Stasi last year as a USGA champion, as well as his own great-grandfather, the late Dexter Daniels, who won the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship in 1961 and 1966.
Dull played college golf at Florida Southern and labored as a touring professional on a variety of Florida-based mini-tours for a couple of years after graduating. He had regained his amateur status for nearly a year when he decided to enter the 2015 Mid-Am.
“I was playing well at the time and I knew my game was good, but it was my first Mid-Am and I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Dull. “I went in with no expectations and I shot a 69 in the first round and was tied for first. From that point on, I felt like I had nothing to lose and I played with a lot of confidence.”
Dull has always had towering length off the tee and even at 6-foot-7, he possessed a deft touch on the greens. But as the father of a young son – Cooper, now 3 – he opted to give up the life of a touring pro to work as a full-time caddie at Streamsong. He wanted a regular paycheck while still working on his game.
“Marc is a great feel player and he could probably play without any yardages or any numbers,” said fellow Streamsong caddie Brent Sagraves, who walked the inward nine holes Monday with Stasi’s match. “The guy is a great putter and he’s really, really methodical – very diligent and intuitive – around the greens.”
Even with many rounds over the hills of Streamsong toting bags of resort guests, Sagraves noted that Dull has learned to optimize his time.
“He has a young son, but he’s found a balance to get in time to practice and play after work,” added Sagraves.
Dull estimates that he plays three times a week, but he rarely hits balls on the practice range.
He also believes his work as a caddie has helped him become a better player. By watching all levels of players wrestle with course-management decisions, he has learned from some of the mistakes he regularly sees.
“I play smarter than I used to,” he said. “I’m more apt to chip out than try to hit it through the trees.”
One of the biggest aspects of his own game that has improved through his work as a caddie is reading greens.
“I read greens every day, all day, for all different kinds of handicaps, so when you look at them all the time, it makes it easier to do it for yourself,” he added.
His on-course demeanor also changed after he became a dad. Dull said he used to have a “big-time temper” playing golf, but that has changed.
“I still get frustrated because I want to win and play well, but the anger is not there, which allows me to enjoy the competition more,” Dull said.
This summer, Dull will return to the U.S. Mid-Am at Stonewall Links in Elverson, Pa., for another shot at winning the title. He also is exempt into the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit, and will attempt to qualify for next month’s U.S. Open in a sectional qualifier at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., on June 6.
In addition, he plans to compete in the Florida Open and in a variety of Florida state tournaments in an effort to be one of the three representatives of the Sunshine State in the USGA Men’s State Team Championship this fall at the Country Club of Birmingham (Ala).
“My goal this summer is to represent Florida and the points leader automatically goes,” he said. “I’m in second place right now, so I’m playing in more Florida state events than I normally would to earn points.”
Dull also plans to enter PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament this fall “just to try it,” but when asked if he was over his dream of playing professionally, he shrugged.
“I think I’m in a different place now, but who knows?” he said. “I’m playing better than I ever have, so if I just keep playing well in some of the bigger tournaments, all of that stuff will take care of itself. But I also know that the better I play, my goals may change.”
This week, however, his focus is only about the player on his bag. He and Stasi paired a week ago at the U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in Bradenton, Fla., where she finished seventh.
“He’s a player, so he’s going to pick up things easier,” said Stasi.
And in Monday’s Round of 32, Dull, the caddie, was in his player’s ear, providing confidence over every shot and offering guidance on a course he knows so well.
“The less thinking I have to do, the better it is for me,” Stasi said. “If you have any local knowledge, it’s going to help.”
Dull never got to play golf with his great-grandfather, but he used to visit the two-time USGA champion several times a week to talk about the game. He was 18 when Daniels died, and Dull wishes he could still share stories with his golf mentor.
“Obviously my career in golf pales in comparison to his right now, but I’m still young and there’s a lot of time,” said Dull. “He just wanted me to keep going in the game – wherever it took me – and to try to be as good as I could be. I think he’d be really proud.”
Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.