By Peter Conroy
Trip Kuehne, 2006's top amateur golfer in Texas with 3100 points in the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf rankings, is an enigma compared with his fellow golfers in the standings.
Ranked fourth nationally in 2006 he was the only non-collegiate golfer in the top-10, and is one of very few former college All-Americans not to try his hand at the pro game. He finished 2007 ranked 25th, while sharing Texas Player of the Year honors.
“Pro golf was something out there that I never really considered as a career,” said Kuehne, 35. “It’s naïve for me to think I could step back in and make a living as a pro. It’s easy to become a pro, you just decide one day that you are professional, it’s just a matter of supporting yourself with golf.”
Kuehne supports himself these days running his own hedge fund company, Double Eagle Capital, L.P., a line of work that has been a passion for him since a young age.
“I used to take a family trip to New York City every year and I just fell in love with Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty,” said Kuehne. “Then in fourth grade we had a stock-picking contest, I took CBS and an insurance company, ICH, that ended up being the best-performing stocks. When I was a kid I used to listen to Billy Bob Harris do the stock report on the way to school, I would read the sports section of the paper, then go skip right to the business section.”
Charged with running a company, Kuehne prefers to use golf as a means of winding down after a day’s work.
“Some people, after work, they run, have a few beers, or lift weights, you use those things to decompress” said Kuehne. “That’s what golf does to me, I’ve solved a lot of the worlds problems in my head while out there practicing. Like Hogan said, the secret of golf is in the dirt.”
Kuehne views tournament play in a slightly Ty Webb-ish manner. They are a means to measure his own game, not as an opportunity to take on the college up-and-comers.
He entered only some of the top tournaments in 2006, the U.S. Amateur, Sunnehanna, Porter Cup, and The Players Amateur, and finished in the top-10 each time. He also was the medalist and reached the final 32 of the U.S. Mid-Am.
“I love the game, love the preparation, love the competition vs. the elements or the course designer,” said Kuehne. “You are always either getting better or worse, never staying the same, it’s just a matter of how much work you put into it.
“It’s the same way in the business world, it all comes down to how much study and preparation you put into it.”
Still, does he ever get wistful watching his brother Hank, sister Kelly, or even a college roommate like Phil Mickelson on the PGA Tour?
“I’m not the jealous type, I’m embarrassed to say I don’t watch a lot of golf on TV, but when I do see some of my friends there, I’m rooting for them to win every tournament they enter,” said Kuehne. “Personally, to be 34, with a full-time job and family, it’s not too bad to be the top amateur in Texas.”
To view the complete 2006 rankings list for Texas Men, click here>