For Amateur Kuehn, Pro Golf Can Wait, but the Books Cannot

For Amateur Kuehn, Pro Golf Can Wait, but the Books Cannot

By Jeff Babineau


BELLEAIR, Fla. – Rachel Kuehn had a decision to make as her senior year at Wake Forest drew to a close last spring. Turn professional, which the All-American standout certainly has the credentials and overall game to do, or head back to Wake for a fifth year, to pursue a Masters degree and play one more season.


The decision did not take Kuehn very long. She would return to Wake; the professional game still will be there waiting for her next fall. Not to say that juggling golf and school does not come without inherent challenges. On Tuesday at The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, as others chipped, putted and hit extra balls, Kuehn had to curtail her practice session to race off and join some fellow classmates in a group college project.


“I think the biggest challenge,” said Kuehn, “is just there is just not enough hours in the day sometimes. I think every student-athlete would love to dedicate 100% of their time to their sport. I know if I could, I would be at the golf facility 24/7, but even here I'm going to do a nice condensed practice after this (media session) and I have to go back. ...


“You have to make the time sometimes.”


Kuehn, 22, said her game has been on something of a rollercoaster pattern in recent months, but nonetheless, she has had a whirlwind 2023. She helped to lead the Demon Deacons to a NCAA Women's title in Arizona in the spring. She made a couple of LPGA starts, including one at the Amundi Evian Championship, a major. Recently, she represented the U.S. at the World Amateur Team Championship in the United Arab Emirates before returning stateside and helping Wake to a first-place showing at the East Lake Cup, a match-play event at Atlanta Athletic Club.


She is a student-athlete, she is quick to remind, with emphasis on “student.” Her Masters will be in Sports Media, though her game is good enough that a Plan B working 9-to-5 might not be something she will need. As Thanksgiving nears, one thing for which Kuehn is forever grateful: understanding teachers.


As for her time and goals this week at The Annika? Kuehn, currently ranked 11th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, said it’s all about gaining more experience, and building up her comfort level as she looks to 2024.


“I'm really just trying to use these weeks to gain some experience and to start to get comfortable out here, so when I do take that next step, I want to feel ready and prepared,” said Kuehn, who followed her mother, Brenda Corrie-Kuehn, in representing the U.S. at the Curtis Cup.


“I think I'm hopefully going to use this week as a chance to prove to myself that I can compete out here,” Kuehn said. “I think the goal is definitely of course to be here on the weekend, and then to just see if I can climb that leaderboard.”


Kuehn was pretty much born into this game. Her mother delivered her a little more than a week after competing in the 2001 U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles. Kuehn said her mom will be joining her in Florida this week, getting the chance to watch a mirror image of herself. 


Mom still has lots of game, too. Corrie-Kuehn was a runner-up recently at the 2023 U.S. Women's Senior Amateur, thus qualifying for next year's U.S. Women's Amateur at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. She plans to play, and her daughter plans to join her in making her final amateur start. And then a new chapter of professional golf beckons. 


After weeks such as this one at Pelican Golf Club, Kuehn plans to be ready. 

November 8, 2023
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