18 and a lifetime to go: Tim Duren has gotten better on the golf course

Published 7:09 pm Thursday, July 23, 2009

After 36 years of golfing, Austin resident Tim Duren has learned one big lesson.

The longest driver isn’t always the best golfer.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would concentrate on my game from 100 yards in,” said Duren, who is 51. “My advice for younger golfers is to not try to see how hard they can hit or how far they can hit it. It’s a game that comes down to chipping, putting and bunker play.”

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While that lesson helped Duren notch his 18th Club title at Austin Country Club this past weekend, Duren still feels another aspect has helped him out over the years — Lady Luck.

“I’ve just been lucky really,” he said. “There’s been several times where I won in a playoff and there’s been times where I’ve been behind with two or three holes to go and somebody else got an unfortunate break and the good break went my way.”

While luck can be a factor down the stretch, Duren has also put in the time to make himself one of Austin’s elite golfers. He has won the city open several times, and plays in medal tournaments throughout the area.

He puts in about 60 to 80 rounds of golf a year, which is over 1,000 holes.

Duren plays a lot more than he practices, and his work schedule gives him flexibility so he never has to work weekends.

“You talk to golfers in general, what keeps them coming out is to see how much better you can do each and every day,” he said. “You just want to do better than you did the last day.”

One part of golf that Duren hasn’t completely figured out over the years is the part he spends his most time working on — the mental game. The frustration of a tough break or bad shot can sabotage even the best of rounds.

“(The mental part of it) is as hard as it was when I started, but it’s what I work on the most,” said Duren. “I’m not one who practices a lot, but I work on the mental preparation a lot.”

After graduating high school from Pacelli in 1976, Duren went on to attend a Junior College in Orlando, Fla. After that he worked as a golf pro in Hilton Head, South Carolina and Kansas City, Missouri for a few years.

It was at Hilton Head where Duren won the assistant pros title at Pinehurst Course No. 2. After moving back to Austin in the early 1980s to raise a family, he regained his amateur status and qualified for the 1992 U.S. mid-amateur in Hilton Head.

“That was pretty special,” Duren said.

Besides golfing, Duren stays in shape by running three or four days a week and he lifts weights at home. He hopes he can drag out his career on the greens as long as possible.

“When I can’t compete any more, I’ll probably move to a seniors division or something,” he said.