1990: Full Circle Journey
It’s a moment any lifelong amateur golfer never forgets. Qualifying for his one and only U.S. Open Championship. For San Diego native Pat Duncan, that moment came in 1988, when the then-32 year old qualified at Pauma Valley CC.
“I was just playing exceptional golf at the time,” says Duncan, who in a four-year stretch from 1985-1988 qualified for three U.S. Amateurs, three U.S. Mid-Ams and the one U.S. Open.
But what Duncan didn’t know then was that one day he would call Pauma Valley CC home. A little more than a year ago Duncan, a longtime member of Rancho Santa Fe GC, moved his family to the club that holds one of his finest golf memories.
“While it was hard to leave Rancho, as soon as we came to this place the decision was easy,” says Duncan, who moved with his wife of 30 years, Linda. “It’s wonderful out here and the club has just been so great to me and my family over the years.”
One member of the family who has benefitted from the generosity of both Rancho Santa Fe GC and Pauma Valley CC is Duncan’s son, Pat “Buddy” Duncan Jr. A talented golfer himself, Buddy is pursuing a career in professional golf, something his father never attempted.
“It’s a dream come true to watch your little boy blossom and play well,” says Duncan. “But it’s certainly nerve wracking at the same time. He’s getting better every year. He’s much more talented than I was.”
It’s a decision he himself never did make, to chase a professional career. With success on the Southern California amateur scene, winning multiple San Diego City Amateurs, USGA Qualifiers and the 1990 SCGA Amateur Championship, a go at the PGA TOUR would have been a natural decision for Duncan.
“At that time, if you won the SCGA Amateur, you turned pro,” says Duncan.
So why didn’t Duncan?
“Craig Stadler,” he says. “I was fortunate enough in my 20s to become great friends with Craig, and I knew how much better he was than me. It was sort of a great reality check.”
And by the time Duncan won the SCGA Amateur at Wilshire CC in 1990, winning by one stroke over defending champion Paul Stankowski, he had a family to consider as well. He and his wife already had two kids, with a third on the way. And Duncan’s landscape contracting business was taking off. He even built a mini golf course in Stadler’s backyard.
“Golf has been instrumental in my career,” says Duncan. “The people I’ve met through golf have helped me grow my business to the point it’s at today. You do a project for somebody and they tell somebody else. Those are the types of relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to make through this game.”
These days, it’s still a lot of tournament golf for Duncan. He continues to travel back to San Diego for business-related activities multiple times per week, but when he’s not managing his company he’s competing in senior amateur events all over California. He won last year’s San Diego City Senior in a playoff, and was in the top 5 of the 2014 SCGA Senior Amateur before having to withdraw due to injury.
“All the golf I play these days is basically in tournaments,” says Duncan. “With such a busy schedule that’s what I have time for, but it’s still a great deal of fun.”