PROVO — Peter Kuest certainly has all the tools to score a rare double eagle, called an “albatross” in golf terms. His length, accuracy and skills attracted Hall of Famer Johnny Miller to take interest in him and direct him toward a college career at BYU.
The Cougar sophomore made an albatross on his second shot of the day at the NCAA Championship. It came on the 542-yard No. 1 par-5 hole at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and it happened just before lightning suspended play.
Since Kuest is capable of a 300-plus-yard drive, and assuming he did, that would leave some 240 yards on his second shot. Assistant BYU golf coach Todd Miller believes Kuest’s holed second shot was a 4-iron.
What are the odds?
It was rare enough that BYU’s golf team found itself playing its third round in the NCAA Championship on Thursday before the rest of the field had teed up for the first round.
Due to a no-Sunday-play policy, the NCAA gave BYU an exemption from Sunday by staging the Cougars’ third round (Sunday play) on Wednesday. Other teams were welcome to follow along to see pin placements, but otherwise, five Cougar golfers were competing against themselves, one guy per hole, flanked by a scorer and rules official.
What are the odds of making a double eagle?
Well, it is more difficult than a hole-in-one. It means you make a one on a par-4 hole or a two on a par-5. On a par-5, it would require two almost perfect shots in a row.
Nobody truly knows the exact odds. Some say 13 million to 1. Others argue it is half that, 6 million to 1. Former Navy engineer Dean Knuth, who created the slope system of rating golf courses for handicap purposes for the United States Golf Association, says double-eagle odds are 1 million to 1.
I met Knuth in Utah last summer. He invented the High Heat driver and fairway rescues and was in Midway to show his clubs at the annual convention of the International Network of Golf.
I bought one of his drivers and KTVX sportscaster and golfing buddy Wesley Ruff won one. It makes a unique thud sound upon impact and we get teased about it all the time, but he was on the USGA’s conformance committee and he knows how to push the limits on equipment and still be legal.
Still, Knuth is guessing.
The odds of making a hole-in-one have been established at 13,000 to 1, according to thought.com and the PGA of America. In the USA are 40,000 aces scored a year compared to just a couple hundred double eagles each year.
According to data from the PGA, in 21 years on the Tour from 1983 to 2003 there were 631 aces and 56 double eagles.
On the LPGA Tour, from its inception in 1950 through 2016, there were 35 double eagles.
At the Masters, from 1934 to 2016, there have been 27 aces, but just four albatrosses. In U.S. Open play, from 1895 through 2015, there have been 44 aces, but only three double eagles.
There is a website that belongs to what is called the Doubleeagleclub.com. On that site, in an article by longtime golf writer Bill Fields, he says Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have had albatrosses in casual rounds but never in competition.
According to Fields, “Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer each have two in casual rounds — Woods knocked in a pitching wedge for a double eagle practicing for the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales, and they share a deuce on Isleworth’s par-5 seventh hole.”
Fields says the chances of making a double eagle are lower than getting killed by a shark (1 in 350 million) or dying from a dog bite (1 in 18 million). Scoring an albatross is tougher than being struck by lightning (1 in 550,000) or a woman having quadruplets without fertility drugs (1 in 729,000).
Kuest finished fifth in the NCAA Regional in Norman last week with a score of 8 under par, a primary reason BYU qualified for the championship. As a freshman a year ago in Provo, Kuest won medalist honors in the WCC Golf Championships at Riverside Country Club.
Kuest grew up in Clovis, California, outside Fresno, where he often gobbled up junior golf trophies. He’s a rare talent and well deserves to be in the albatross club.