Why this four-time Wake Forest All-American chose to come back for a fifth year

LAKE ELMO, Minn. — When reading Rachel Kuehn’s roster page on the Wake Forest website, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad accolades listed while scrolling.

A four-time All-America selection. Two-time Curtis Cup member. Four times on the Arnold Palmer Cup team. A national champion.

The resume is that of the greatest player in Wake Forest history. It’s a resume that’s on par with many of the best college golfers in the history of the sport.

Yet, even after four successful years representing the Demon Deacons, Kuehn is back as a graduate student for her fifth season. She began her season in Minnesota this week in the Annika Intercollegiate at Royal Golf Club.

She had opportunities to turn professional. Instead, she’s lugging her Wake Forest bag around and playing team golf one final season.

“I’ve just improved so much in my four years, I felt like it was a no-brainer coming back,” Kuehn said. “Professional golf is always going to be there. You get such a limited amount of time to play college golf and to play on a team like this. I love the girls, I love my coaches. My facilities at Wake are incredible. So I feel like another year of maturing and letting my game develop, I figured it could only do me some good.”

Last year, Kuehn became the sixth women’s golfer to be named the ACC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. She also set a program record for the lowest single-season scoring average in program history with a 70.53 average over 36 rounds played. She also won twice and went undefeated in match play at the NCAA Championship.

2023 NCAA Championship

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons celebrate with the trophy after winning the NCAA women’s Golf Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club on May 24, 2023, in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Even after playing lights out at Grayhawk Golf Club in May, there was never a question on Kuehn decision’s to come back.

“It was right after COVID hit,” Wake Forest coach Kim Lewellen said of Kuehn’s decision. “I asked her whether she would want to come back for a fifth year, and I think it took her about half a day.

“It’s outstanding to have Rachel back for so many reasons. She’s a leader. She’s you know, she just loves Wake Forest and she brings that energy for all of us.”

Heading into the final round of the Annika Intercollegiate, Wake Forest, the defending event champion, sits second at 18 under, three strokes behind South Carolina. Although Kuehn didn’t have the start to the season she wanted – she’s even-par after 36 holes – her leadership abilities are unquestioned.

Kuehn stood in the rain at the end of the round and went and welcomed each of her teammates who finished behind her and brought their bags from the green to the clubhouse. She prides herself on leading by example in every facet.

There’s a long season ahead between now and the NCAA Championship at Omni La Costa in Carlsbad, California, come May, but Kuehn is eager for her last ride in college golf.

“I just want to use this year as a personal growth year in order to kind of get myself ready to turn professional next fall,” Kuehn said.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek