Trip Kuehne has often said losing the 1994 U.S. Amateur final to Tiger Woods was a blessing in disguise. Had Kuehne not lost a 5-up lead in the second 18 of the 36-hole championship match at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., he likely would have turned professional, a decision he now knows would have been a mistake.
Kuehne instead remained a career amateur, formed a successful investment management business (Double Eagle Capital) and finally attained a lifelong goal in 2007 by winning a USGA championship. Kuehne’s 9-and-7 triumph over Dan Whitaker in the U.S. Mid-Amateur final at Bandon Dunes in Oregon was the crowning moment of his career, one that saw the now-43-year-old Dallas resident compete on three USA Walker Cup Teams, a World Amateur Team and earn low-amateur honors in the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.
He retired from competitive amateur golf after his appearance in the 2008 Masters to focus on his business and family, which includes his wife, Dusti, and teenage son, Will, an aspiring high school quarterback.
On Oct. 12 in San Antonio, Kuehne had another chance to reflect on his accomplishments when he was inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame along with 2015 U.S. Senior Open champion Jeff Maggert and four others. “I’ve been playing golf since I was 10 years and to know I can always come here and see my name on the Hall of Fame plaque is really special,” said an emotional Kuehne, who was honored in the amateur category.
On hand for the ceremony were Kuehne’s two siblings, Kelli and Hank, both of whom claimed USGA titles, making the Kuehnes the only family with three USGA champions. Hank won the 1998 U.S. Amateur, while Kelli won the 1994 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and 1995 and 1996 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Trip Kuehne first rose to prominence in 1994 when he reached the U.S. Amateur final by knocking off his Oklahoma State teammate Kris Cox in the semifinals, 1 up. He held as much as a 6-up lead over Tiger Woods in the morning 18 of the final, but saw the margin trimmed to four holes by the lunch break. Woods then rallied to win six of the last 10 holes for a 2-up victory.
While many players in his position would have turned professional, Kuehne decided to pursue a career in the financial world, a decision that he hasn’t regretted.
“I always wanted to work on Wall Street,” Kuehne told Bloomberg News. “Who knows what I would have done on the PGA Tour, but I’ve got a great business and I don’t have to worry about making a 6-foot putt to put food on the table.”
Everything came together for Kuehne in 2007. He finally played on a victorious USA Walker Cup Team – his 1995 and 2003 teams lost – and he helped Texas claim the USGA Men’s State Team Championship. He concluded his fall run by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur, which earned him a spot in the 2008 Masters. His brother, Hank, served as his caddie and while Trip did not make the cut, he felt the time was right to step away from the competitive arena.
“Playing in the Masters with my brother as a caddie, getting to win a USGA championship, I achieved more than I ever thought possible in this game,” said Kuehne during his induction speech.
Maggert, meanwhile, is still achieving, perhaps better than he ever has in his career.
During his days on the PGA Tour, Maggert, 51, who was raised in The Woodlands, Texas, just north of Houston and attended Texas A&M, contended often in major championships, collecting 12 top 10s, seven of which were in the U.S. Open. He finished third in 2002 at Bethpage State Park and 2004 at Shinnecock Hills.
But the three-time PGA Tour winner didn’t get his breakthrough in a major until this year on the Champions Tour when he won both the Regions Tradition and U.S. Senior Open, the latter by two strokes over defending champion Colin Montgomerie at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif. He added two more Champions Tour victories in August and is near the top of the Charles Schwab Cup standings as the season nears an end.
“I’m living the dream, doing what I want to do and enjoying the Texas-sized journey along the way,” said Maggert at the induction ceremony. “This is so special to me. There is no way I would miss this. To be honored among my heroes and my mentors is one of the highest honors of my career.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.