David Duke (r) pictured with Welwyn Garden City 2017 Club Captain Doug Barson (l) some 50 years after David was WGC Club Captain
Very sad news to report today with the passing this morning of David Duke at the age of 81. David was a Vice President of the Hertfordshire Golf Union and was the County Boys Manager for many years, until the present incumbent Chris James succeeded David in the mid-late 2000's. David was a life long member of Welwyn Garden City and was Club Captain in 1967 at the age of 30, certainly one of the youngest captains of his time, clearly a mark of how well thought of he was.
David was always a tremendous supporter of County golf and was extremely well thought of by several generations of junior golfers.
Our thoughts are with his wife Marlene and all of his family at this difficult time.
David's funeral will be held on Wednesday 4th April, 12:30pm at Harwood Park Crematorium, Stevenage, followed by a gathering at Welwyn Garden City GC. Family flowers only please. If desired, donations to support the Junior Section at Welwyn Garden City GC can be made via the Club or Family Members. Cheques made payable to WGCGC Ltd, or bank transfer to: Sort Code: 20-92-54, Account No: 80946338, with David Duke's name as reference.
David pictured during his year of captaincy of Welwyn Garden City GC in 1967 aged 30
Below is an excerpt from the HGU magazine from around 2010 featuring an interview with David;
David Duke has spent a decade nurturing the talented golfers of
Hertfordshire. He retired as Boys Manager at the end of this season. Here he
talks to Chris Murray about his ten years in the role.
How did it all start?
In 1992, David Robertson, then Colts manager, asked me to give him a hand.
Within a year, he had resigned, I had been co-opted on to the HGU Executive,
and I became Colts manager. I was formally elected in 1993. I ran the colts
until 1997. Then Tony Bailey asked if I would help with running the Boys
team. The following year he moved on to captain the Chiltern Secretaries,
and I became Boys Manager.
What are the major changes you¹ve seen in ten years?
Things have moved on a lot now. We used to have no budget just paid and
then argued about it. Now there is a proper budget, and we all know where we
stand. There has to be a budget, as it is a huge amount on boys development
compared to what we used to spend.
Another major difference now is the number of boys who are training. It
started with 16 in 1998. Now we have around 200 on the current list. There
probably been heading for 1,000 boys through the HGU boys in my time.
We would have other boys in the team who were not in the squad, but the
actual training squad was 16. There would be one professional Ross
Whitehead from Moor Park whereas now we try to have one professional to
every four boys.
The other major difference in training are the mental and physical aspects,
which we have introduced in the last couple of years.
The boys have gurus to advise them in all mental aspects, some esoteric,
some practical. For example, they get the boys to separate the hitting area
from the thinking area, which is good. I wish they¹d come up with a device
for making some of them play a little quicker, though.
The physical training is also a completely new aspect of the game. There was
none of this in the late Nineties. But now the boys have pre-match and
post-match routines. They certainly benefit from being fitter.
And what about the child protection procedures?
These have changed radically. Now everyone of us who works with the boys has
to have CRB approval. There are rules and regulations for all aspects of
junior golf. It¹s a good thing, but it is a lot of work.²
Where do you think there is room for improvement?
The standard of boys golf is definitely better than it was ten years ago,
but there is one area that seems could always be improved course
management. A lot of younger players (and probably older ones, too) could
concentrate on that. It seems that the weakest part of many boys¹ games is
the 9-iron and wedge into the green. I suppose this is because they all love
going down the range and smashing these huge drivers for miles.
When did you start playing golf?
I started at Brechin Golf Club in Scotland when I was 10 years old. I was
playing tennis one day and one of my friends suggested playing golf. I
scraped together an ill-matched set including a niblick (wedge) with a
straight face no grooves, no punch marks. It cost 9d a round. I even had a
birdie in my first round.
When did you move to Hertfordshire?
I came here in 1961 when I joined De Havilland at Hatfield, which later
became Hawker Siddelely. I became a member of Welwyn Garden City golf club
in 1962, so in 2012 I will have been there 50 years.
As a five-handicapper I did manage to play in the same team as Nick Faldo,
though not actually with him. In those days there was no scratch league. But
there was an informal foursomes scratch league, and that was when we played
What is your favourite moment over the past ten years?
For the team it was when the Boys won the South East foursomes team event at
Ashford Manor in 2004. For the individual it was when Tom Haylock won the
Carris Trophy at Moor Park in 2005.
And the best players?
I think it would have to be David Griffiths. He was outstanding.