Pacific Invitational champion, Saint Mary’s Invitational champion, William H. Tucker Invitational champion, John A. Burns Intercollegiate champion, Ping Cougar Classic champion, WCC Golfer of the Month in September, October and February, WCC Golfer of the Year, No. 1 ranked golfer in Arnold Palmer Cup standings and the No. 10 ranked collegiate golfer in the country — these are just some of the major accolades that BYU golfer Peter Kuest has received over the last nine months.
Kuest’s story started long before the numerous championships he is now collecting as a collegiate athlete. Growing up, golf wasn’t something that Kuest practiced seriously. In fact, it wasn’t anything more than just a leisure pastime for him, he said.
“My dad got me into golf,” Kuest said. “Me and my brother shared a set of clubs, and we’d just go out to the range and beat balls and hang out at the pool. We didn’t play seriously, we were just kind of messing around.”
Kuest’s father and grandfather made lasting impacts on his golfing career. Kuest said they both taught him to work hard for everything and not take anything for granted. Though his father and grandfather both grew up playing soccer, they were both supportive of his golf career, even from a young age.
Kuest played soccer and baseball in his early years. It wasn’t until he reached double-digits in age that he played his first full round of golf — a round that didn’t exactly showcase the elite skill he would later have.
“I was probably 10 or 11. We’d go out to this place, and at the time, it was called Riverbend Golf Club. We’d go out, and we’d play there. I have no idea what I shot. I don’t think I kept score,” Kuest laughed.
Fast-forwarding to high school, the Fresno, California, native was on the baseball team. Not giving much thought to golf, Kuest figured he would instead pursue baseball. He said all his friends played baseball and he didn’t know anyone that played golf. Though he played baseball, he said he doesn’t know if he could have gone beyond being just pitching in high school.
“I was a smaller kid,” he said. “Height-wise, I wasn’t anything special. It would have been interesting to see.”
Though golf was on the backburner and baseball took center stage during the start of Kuest’s high school career, it was something he still practiced. It wasn’t until midway through high school that he would decide to commit wholly to golf, a decision he made largely because of an injury that would end his baseball career.
“What pushed me to get into that was I played baseball but ended up breaking my elbow pitching,” Kuest said. “The first thing I could do instead of throwing was play golf. Through doing rehab and stuff like that I would just go out and play golf. It was something to pass the time.”
Like many teenagers, Kuest wasn’t overly fond of committing most of his time to one thing. During the summer, he said he was usually found hanging out with friends and living a typical teenager life. This drastically changed when, one day after hanging out with his friends, Kuest came home to a not-so-subtle gesture from his dad.
“I wasn’t real keen on playing sports, but (my dad) really wanted to push me,” Kuest said. “He is a painting contractor, and he had put these painter pants and a painting shirt on my bed and he goes, ‘If you don’t start working hard at it, you can come work for me.’ I didn’t really want to be a painter, so that’s when it really took off.”
At that point, Kuest was going into his junior year. He would be considered a “late-bloomer” in the sports world for waiting until his junior year before competitively training for a sport that he would later play at the highest collegiate level. He didn’t let that deter him, but his days as a relaxed teenager with no daily schedule were all but over, he said.
“I was probably on a golf course for 12 hours a day,” Kuest said. “I loved doing it. It wasn’t something that I was forced to do. I love practicing, and I love getting better. It was fun working 12 hours, and it was worth it.”
His recruitment process wasn’t limited to just BYU. Recruiters from Nebraska, CU Boulder and Fresno State were all vying for Kuest to commit to their universities. Ultimately he committed to be a Cougar even though he is not a member of BYU’s majority faith.
“I remember coming to BYU on my visit and going to a football game,” Kuest said. “There was just something different about it. I don’t know if it was the tradition or what, but I had a feeling that I needed to come here and play golf. I can’t explain it, but it’s just a feeling.”
Having played at BYU for almost three full years, he has earned handfuls of major accolades. Though his awards can no longer be counted on two hands, one stands out in particular — his first-place finish at the Pacific Invitational in Stockton, California, on Oct. 27, 2018.
“I got a call from my dad a couple days before (the tournament),” Kuest said. “My grandpa was back in the hospital and not doing well. (We) didn’t know how much longer he had, so I got to say goodbye then. A couple days later, I got another call saying he passed.”
With the messages of not taking anything for granted and working hard for everything cemented in his mind — teachings that his grandfather, Ludwig Kuest, taught him — Kuest shot a 16 under par to win the tournament. Not only was no other golfer within four strokes of his final score, Kuest’s final tally tied the record for the lowest three-round score in BYU golf history, also tying a tournament record for the Pacific Invitational.
Now a major piece of BYU’s golf team, Kuest continues to look ahead. His end goal isn’t just to win more championships and be the best golfer that BYU has ever seen — it is to be the best golfer the world has ever seen.
“I’d like to be one of the best players on tour. That’s my goal.” Kuest said. “It would be nice to beat (Jack Nicklaus’s) record or beat Tiger’s record if he ever beats Jack. Dream big — why not?”