2012-13 KGA President Terry Duncan
With the golf industry struggling to shake out of its decade-long slumber, Wichita’s Terry Duncan, who brings a familiar smile to those who have been involved with Kansas Golf Association championships, began the first of his two-year stint as KGA president last month.
Duncan, a Baylor University graduate who enjoyed a long and successful career as a Wichita orthodontist, says one of the things he’d like to do during his tenure is find a way to identify average Kansas golfers, those that play for fun but might also be interested in taking their games to a more competitive level, and turn them into frequent KGA participants.
“We talk about this a lot – ‘How do we get more people involved in KGA events?’” says Duncan, who just celebrated his 75th birthday. “My observation is that many golfers who enjoy just going out and knocking the ball around, don’t seem to have interest in doing anything more than that.
“I think it’s difficult for the Association to reach those people – I think their attitude is ‘I just want to go play golf…I have a group of buddies; we enjoy golf, we enjoy the camaraderie, we enjoy the game so much. (But) that’s all I want out of it.’ How can we get the information to those players and get them involved in the KGA? It’s been difficult in my observation. We’re not the only (association) asking ‘Why can’t we get these recreational golfers interested in our events?’ It’s pretty universal.”
‘…they know we’re here’
Duncan says his participation in the KGA is the only experience he’s had with a state golf association. But through his travels and attendance in various rules workshops, he’s come to learn how respected the Sunflower State’s main golf organization is.
“I think the KGA has a well-respected position for what is does for golf in the state of Kansas,” Duncan says. “The organization is top-notch I think. Everyone that I’ve been involved with through the years with the KGA has been highly interested in putting together a fine product. And they do it for the right reason, to make golf accessible and available to people who want to play in an organization in tournament golf and things like that.”
Duncan says he thinks the Association does a good job offering championship-caliber competitions to those who want that, despite the game’s recent struggles, but fixing golf’s problems, and even defining them, can be a tough thing to do.
“Fortunately, there are enough people who wish to become more competitive in their golf acumen and skills, and want to take their time and energy and spend the resources to do that,” he says. “The KGA has gone out of its way and done a super job, telling (players) if you want to assess your skills against other people in tournaments it’s there. I think definitely the golf game is down, as is everything right now, you can always fall back on that. But there is a deeper something missing and I don’t know what it is.”
Duncan agrees one thing is certain, Kansas’ place in the game is as highly regarded as its ever been nationally.
“To know that we have a USGA (2011 Men’s State Team Championship) now, to know that we’ve had people compete on that level now nationally, to know that we have the Gary Woodland-s out there, the guys competing on the Tour, no matter what level of the Tour they’re on, that they are competing. The fact the Nationwide Tour comes here to Kansas,” he says. “We’re not the nomads in the desert where we don’t have anything to offer. We have several championship venues that are well known across the country that people stream here to play. An example to me was the qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur at Prairie Dunes last year. People came from Oregon, Washington, Tennessee and Louisiana to play Prairie Dunes’ golf course. That’s pretty amazing and it happens when they have it at Flint Hills or Wolf Creek or Shadow Glen – really, any of the top-tier Kansas golf courses. All of the national folks, they know we’re here.”
But Duncan is also aware of the problems. He mentions course closings in the United States, single-digit participation rates nationally and even golf architecture firm layoffs as signs of the difficulty facing the game.
“I’m hoping it’s cyclical, as the economy improves the golf industry will improve and we’ll see that happen again,” he says. “Golf manufacturers, they are continuing to create new products and they’re bettering their products all the time to, for lack of a better term, make the game ‘easier,’ though it will never be easy. So that’s a plus. I don’t know that we’re over-saturated with golf courses but I know there are golf courses in communities that are suffering and those kinds of things. It’s a dilemma for those in the golf industry.”
Career path set early
Duncan was born in Tucson, Ariz., the son of Lee and Joy Duncan. The family moved around a bit as his father was in accounting, including a stint for a New Mexico mining company, Duncan says.
“In 1941 we moved to El Paso, Texas where my Dad continued his accounting career,” Duncan recalls. “We lived there until about 1954, when my folks divorced, my mother, sister (Cindy) and I moved to Burlington, Iowa.”
Duncan says he enjoyed the outdoors with his father and eventually they began playing golf.
“My Dad liked to fish a lot and to fly fish so we would do some trips up into the New Mexico high lakes when I was able to,” Duncan says. “He was also a pretty avid golfer and I pretty much got my golfing bug from him. We played a lot at a small course in Las Cruses, N.M. …probably about the age of 10 or 11.”
Duncan attended school through his junior year in El Paso before the family moved to his mother’s parents’ home in Burlington, Iowa. There he graduated from high school in 1955.
“I played tennis and basketball in high school,” he says. “I was involved in student council, did some choir things, I remember one time we performed for the hospital -- just the usual types of things in high school and grade school.”
Duncan also had an experience as a youngster, outside of school, which would set him on the path to a successful career.
“When I was age 11 or 12 my folks gave me the opportunity to have my teeth straightened by an orthodontist in El Paso and from that moment on, from age 12, I really thought that would be a great profession and a great thing to be doing as an adult,” he recalls. “I really had no other thoughts of other vocations or anything else to do other than becoming an orthodontist. So what ever you do at that age, I kind of set my sights and was hoping to have the opportunity to make that happen.”
Duncan said he’d wanted to return to Texas. So his family moved south to Waco where he enrolled at Baylor University.
“I knew that they had an excellent pre-dental program and a dental school in Dallas and if you were fortunate enough you could move on to that,” he says.
Wichita and a change in plans
Duncan graduated from Baylor with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in 1959, majoring in Biology while picking up a minor in English. He says he was active in the Wesley Foundation during his days at the Texas Baptist school. At Baylor, he also met his wife, Pat, who earned her business degree in 1959. They were married in 1960.
Duncan was accepted into Baylor’s Dental School and the two moved to Dallas.
“We were working our way through dental school; Pat worked and I worked,” he recalls. “I did things like refueling jet airplanes at Connelly Air Force Base in Waco and working at gas stations in Dallas. So we worked our way through and pretty much paid our own way through dental school.”
After receiving his dental degree, Duncan says there were a couple of routes into the orthodontic community back in those days.
“The most popular way was being accepted into a residency program,” he says. “There was a program sponsored by the American Association of Orthodontists throughout the country that would allow certain orthodontists, who chose to do so, to accept a young dentist and to teach them orthodontics, kind of like an apprenticeship.
“I had a very good friend in dental school, a classmate whose father was a well-established orthodontist in Dallas. In fact, Dr. Robert Gaylord was the president of the American Association of Orthodontists and was pretty much the kingpin of the preceptorship program in our southwest region. He had a friend here in Wichita, Dr. J. Victor Benton, who was in a position to accept someone into his practice.”
Duncan interviewed for the position during his senior year of dental school. He got it and later, with a young son and the couple expecting a second child, the family moved to Wichita where he went to work with Dr. Benton and Dr. John Rogers.
“The idea was to spend three years in their office because you just learned everything, all of the aspects of orthodontics,” Duncan says. “…the technical aspects, how to run a business, how to run a dental practice, how to deal with people. It was a great experience.”
By the time the experience had ended the Duncans had also put down roots in Wichita. Their plan to return to Texas faded.
“Our plan was to spend three years here because to us Kansas sounded like the Canadian border,” he recalls with a laugh. “Our plan was to go back to central Texas and begin our practice there after we got through with the program. We felt the relationships we’d developed during the three years we’d been here were going to be really hard to leave. We made the decision to stay in Wichita and the rest is history.”
For the next 37 years Duncan enjoyed a successful career as part of the orthodontic practice of Rogers, Duncan & Dillehay. He was active in several dental and orthodontic organizations including serving as president of the Wichita District Dental Society, the Kansas Dental Association, the Kansas State Association of Orthodontists, the Southwestern Society of Orthodontists, and the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation. He was a delegate to the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association. He is also a diplomat of the American Board of Orthodontics and a fellow of the American College of Dentists.
In 2007, Duncan received the Martin E. Dewey Award form the Southwestern Society of Orthodontists, its highest honor, recognizing an individual for outstanding contributions to the advancement of orthodontics in education, practice and research.
Duncan says the real reward from his career was the ability to help so many people over the years and finding out what they are doing the days.
“I’m always running across people in a different environment and they’ll say ‘I was a patient of yours in 1971.’ So you’re always running across those people and that’s really nice,” he admits. “You see names of people who have been successful or are doing things, so it’s a great specialty.”
As his career developed, Duncan says he never lost his passion for golf.
“When I got to Wichita both of my senior partners were avid golfers,” he says. “Of course I couldn’t say ‘no’ if I was asked if I was interested in golf. So that gave me the opportunity to enjoy golf on my days off.”
As their busy practice grew, Duncan’s partners gave him a membership to Hidden Lakes. Later he joined Crestview Country Club.
“I played with them on occasion,” he says. “I created my own golfing circle through the years…other young dentists who were in Wichita. We would get together and play.”
Duncan was a member at Crestview for more than 20 years and joined Andover’s Flint Hills National Golf Club a year after it opened. He didn’t play any KGA events and admits knowing little or nothing about the Association until getting involved in its Senior Series at age 55 and later lending a hand as a volunteer/rules official at its championships.
Car trips and grandkids in college
With three grown children and an empty nest, the Duncans spend a lot of their free time on the road these days, the new KGA president says.
“We do a lot of traveling…we mostly taking driving trips,” Duncan says. “We just got back from Hilton Head over the holidays with our family. We’re fixing to head out to California (in February) and spend some time out there. We just travel; we drive most of the time and just don’t fly much commercially. We (also) do things around the house…keep the home fires burning.”
The Duncans, who’ve been married 51 years now, have three children. Son Dave, a senior account executive for Cjeka, and his wife, Shelley, live in St. Louis. Dave and Shelley’s daughter, Ally, is a freshman nursing student at the University of Missouri, and their daughter, Laynie, is a high school sophomore.
The Duncans’ first daughter, Debbie Johnson, lives in Tulsa, Okla, and works as a school teacher in the Union School District. Her husband, Brian, is an electrical engineer for American Electric Power in Tulsa. The Johnsons’ son, Andy, is an Austin College student considering a career in dentistry, and their son, Blake, is a freshman business student at Oklahoma State University.
The Duncans’ second daughter, Diane Vaughn, lives in Dana Point, Calif., and is in senior management for Pacific Life. Her husband, Brock, is an examiner for FDIC.