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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


DUNCAN, Arthur Donald Stuart


Leading New Zealand amateur golfer and administrator.

A new biography of Duncan, Arthur Donald Stuart appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Arthur Duncan was born in Ceylon, the son of John Donald Duncan, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1884. He was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School where he exhibited an uncommon aptitude in most sports, particularly rugby football, cricket, and athletics. It was considered by his masters and contemporaries that he could have taken the highest honours in any one of those fields if he had been prepared to devote his entire energies to it. Instead, he went from school to the countinghouse of Levin and Co., and served the company's interests to such effect that he rose to be its chairman of directors. He was, however, an early convert to golf, and his game prospered to such an extent that in his early twenties he won the New Zealand amateur championship, a performance he was to repeat on no fewer than nine subsequent occasions. His record was a proud one. In fact, he dominated the royal and ancient game in New Zealand for over a quarter of a century and by common consent earned the title of “the greatest of them all”. Between 1899 and 1926 he was 10 times amateur champion and three times open champion of New Zealand. But he had an even more unique distinction. In his sixtieth year he led the amateur field in the open championship of 1935, something that had never been done before and certainly has not been achieved since. It was said of Arthur Duncan that no one ever played with him without being the better for it. His immaculate style made him a champion, but his personality and demeanour won him as much regard as his golf. His kindly and courteous manner on the links and off them was proverbial, and many players today have reason to acknowledge his help and encouragement. Duncan was not content to take all he could from the game without giving something in return. He served for many years as president of the Wellington Golf Club, and for almost as many as a member of the council of the New Zealand Golf Association, his services as an administrator being recognised by his election in 1950 to the presidency of the national association. He died on 10 March 1951 at the age of 75, and his passing was widely mourned as a notable loss to the sport of golf in New Zealand. Golf Illustrated, in an obituary tribute in April 1951, said of him that “he played a brand of golf that was unparalleled in his day and has not been equalled since”.

by Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.

  • New Zealand Golf Illustrated, Apr 1951 (Obit)
  • Evening Post, 10 Mar 1951 (Obit).


Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.