Village of Pinehurst, N.C. – Charlie MacInnes was planning on taking a week off from his caddie duties at Pinehurst No. 2 when the phone rang.
The Country of North Carolina needed a caddie for the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Having missed out on a bag for this week’s Women’s North and South Amateur at Pinehurst, MacInnes certainly had some free time.
The Vero Beach, Fla., resident – he only spends summers away from Florida –
wound up carrying for Doris Chen, a
Doris Chen (right) and caddie Charlie MacInnes proved to be a perfect
tandem at the U.S. Girls' Junior. (John Mummert/USGA)
Doris Chen (right) and caddie Charlie MacInnes proved to be a perfect tandem at the U.S. Girls' Junior. (John Mummert/USGA)
Doris needed a caddie and I got lucky, said MacInnes. I got the winner.
Chen, who barely made the match-play cut and was the No. 57 seed, rallied for a 3-and-2 victory on Saturday over 15-year-old Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek, S.C., in the 36-hole championship match on the Dogwood Course.
Not bad for someone who only started caddying six years ago as a way to beat the smoke-filled Nevada casinos. MacInnes, who was born and raised outside of Boston, spent most of his adult life working in Nevada, specifically in casino bars.
I wanted to get outdoors and get some fresh air for a change, said MacInnes.
He found a job at RedStick Golf Club in Vero Beach. But the resort closes from May to October, so MacInnes has migrated north the past few years. He spent a summer in California, another at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., site of this year’s PGA Championship, and another one at Easthampton Golf Club on Long Island. This year, he is working at Pinehurst, but the No. 2 Course at the resort was closed this week for the Women’s North and South Amateur.
While Chen struggled through stroke play, failing to make a birdie in two rounds (79-77), her play awakened once she got into match play. MacInnes and Chen began forming a bond, although she didn’t rely on him much for reading putts.
For four or five days, she hardly talked at all, said the 62-year-old MacInnes. She’s very stoic. Just all business. After the first round [of the final], she said, ‘I’m tired, I am just going to enjoy playing golf.’ That turned it around for her. She started getting dialed in.
What impressed MacInnes most about Chen’s game was her ability to recover when she missed greens. She had her short game on display several times in the final, especially at the 27th hole when she got up and down for par with a 10-foot putt and again at the 31st hole, blasting from the left greenside bunker to 5 feet for another clutch par save. She ended the match in style with a 10-foot birdie at the 32nd hole and a 25-footer at the 34th.
Everything is just really, really good, said MacInnes. She has great irons and things, but when she misses the greens, it doesn’t seem to hurt her too bad. That’s the best part of her game. And her putting was pretty good.
MacInnes said Chen has requested that he come to Charlotte, N.C., in a couple of weeks for the U.S. Women’s Amateur and he plans to be there.
You never know, he could have another special week.
The heat and humidity has taken its toll on everyone this week, including the caddies. A couple needed medical attention earlier in the week for heat exhaustion, and after the 30th hole, Derek Mills, the friend caddying for Dambaugh, needed relief. Bad blisters were forming on his feet and the heat had worn him down.
To the rescue came Koll Farman, Dambaugh’s instructor from Crowfield Golf Course in Goose Creek.
It was cool to have him on the bag, said Dambaugh. He lives right beside me back home. He’s one of my instructors.
Dambaugh still had a great time with Mills. The two were singing between shots all week to stay loose. When Dambaugh reached the par-5 fifth hole in the morning in two with a 5-wood from 197 yards, Mills began humming an Usher song.
But Dambaugh said they never sang anything from her idol, Justin Bieber.
His songs don’t pump me up, she said.
What started as a small gathering of immediate family and friends, turned into a newsContenting section. The farther Dambaugh advanced in the draw, the bigger the support became. The throng included at least 20 by Saturday’s final, many of whom made the four-hour drive on Friday night. That group included Farman and his girlfriend.
And they were making their presence known on the course, especially when Dambaugh won a hole.
It just made me feel good, said Dambaugh, a sophomore-to-be at Pinewood Prep.
When asked if the added support put more pressure on her, she said, No, because I see these people all the time. They are like family.
Odds And Ends
Both finalists are exempt into next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Charlotte Country Club, with Chen also being exempt into the 2011 Women’s Amateur at Rhode Island C.C…Dambaugh will now be exempt into the next two U.S. Girls’ Juniors to be held at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club and Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif… Being a public-course player, Dambaugh will also be exempt into the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship set for Bandon Dunes Resort in Bandon, Ore…USGA president Jim Hyler from Raleigh, N.C., served as a walking Rules official for the final…Chen became the third player with Chinese Taipei ties to win a USGA title, joining Candie Kung (2001 WAPL) and Yani Tseng (2004 WAPL). Kung was also a runner-up to Beth Bauer at the 1997 U.S. Girls’ Junior…Chen planned to return home to Chinese Taipei before returning to the U.S. for the Women’s Amateur Aug. 9-15…Dambaugh also said she planned to play the Women’s Amateur. She was scheduled to be in Charlotte for a Justin Bieber concert on Aug. 8…Dambaugh lost a spike on her golf shoe at the first hole when she accidentally hit her putter against the sole after missing a short birdie putt…Dambaugh was bidding to become the first female left-handed USGA champion. She now joins the late Toni Wiesner as a runner-up. Wiesner was a three-time runner-up at the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur…Five left-handed males have won USGA titles.
David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments email@example.com.