Arthur Duncan and the Cup

The Duncan Name Remembered Annually in Cup Challenge 

Wellington have a history and tradition in interclub golf that is to be envied. The best players in the District represent their club in two competitions, of which the first is the Otaki Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the Division One round robin competition. The top four then compete for the prestigious Duncan Cup, which is perhaps the most recognised club competition in the country. Only a few days ago Shandon Golf Club defeated Royal Wellington 9 ½  – 5 ½, in the 72nd playing of the Duncan Cup.

So just who was the legend behind the Duncan Cup? The following tells the short story of Arthur Duncan a New Zealand Golf Hall of Famer.

A.D.S (Arthur Donald Stuart) Duncan dominated amateur golf for a longer period than any other player in New Zealand golf history.

Duncan was born in 1875 in Ceylon and came to New Zealand at the age of eight with his parents. He was a born athlete, outstanding in athletics, rugby, tennis and cricket while at Wanganui Collegiate and the year after leaving school he represented Wellington at both rugby and cricket, however it was golf that was his real love. His personality and demeanour gave him a standing no other golfer had approached and it was said that no one ever played with him without being the better for it.

He won the New Zealand Amateur championship 10 times between 1899 and 1926 – a record that is unlikely to be ever be rewritten – and the New Zealand Open championship in 1907, 1910 and 1911.

He was the club champion at the Wellington Golf Club on 23 occasions, the Miramar Golf Club champion six times and the Hutt Golf Club champion four times.

When the Wellington Golf Club opened their new clubhouse on 25 April 1908 Joseph Ward, the New Zealand Prime Minister and President of the club, performed the opening ceremony and invited Duncan, as the New Zealand Open champion of 1907, to drive the first ball.

In the 1920s Duncan, known as “Mr. Arthur” to a respectful younger generation, remained the greatest figure in the game.

In 1926, 30 years after his first appearance in the championship, Duncan claimed his 10th and final NZ Amateur title at the Miramar Golf Club in Wellington.

“No single example has been more valuable to golf in New Zealand than that of Mr. A.D.S Duncan. Of the propriety as well as the skills of the links, Mr. Duncan has been an admired model for half a lifetime.”

In 1927 Duncan was a member of the first New Zealand team to play in international matches. His selection was obvious despite his age and he was selected again in 1930 and 1935.

He was regarded as a legend of national golf in his time and his record still stands alone today. A man not much above middle height and of slim build he relied on the superb rhythm of his swing and a devoted attention to the game.

After the Second World War he was frequently seen at the Wellington Golf Club in a cream silk shirt, gold cufflinks and a grey tie. His golf remained at a high standard as he played off a scratch handicap at Heretaunga 50 years after his first national appearance.

Through his skill and devotion to the game A.D.S encouraged countless golfers to take up the game. He was regarded as a gentleman of the old school and took great pride in upholding the traditions of the game. His dress was immaculate. His shoes were so polished that you could see your face in them, and he always wore grey trousers, a cream silk shirt, gold cufflinks and a grey tie.

While he could be aloof, and did not suffer the brash or foolish gladly, his friendly courtesy shone particularly with younger players.

He was also a leader in change. Duncan broke with protocol in Hamilton in 1920 when he dined with the professionals.  

Duncan was Captain of the club in 1931, 1932 and 1942 and President in 1941 and 1950. He served on the New Zealand Golf Association's council in the 1920s, and was elected president in 1950.

A.D.S passed away in 1951 as the current President of the New Zealand Golf Association but his legacy lives on. The Wellington golfer had proven himself throughout his career to be the equal of any of New Zealand’s finest. The competition for club supremacy in Wellington is aptly known as the Duncan Cup, after Arthur donated a Cup in 1946 and till this day it is the most sought after trophy in the region.

“If Charles Richard Howden was the father of New Zealand Golf, Duncan is the greatest memory.”

In 2014 A.D.S. Duncan was inducted to the New Zealand Golf Hall of Fame.

-Picture Turnbull library, Heretaunga 1912.

Courtesy NZ Golf