Trip Kuehne was known for his first 11 years in money management as the best golfer on Wall Street. While proud of the moniker, he also wants to move past it.
Kuehne, 42, stopped playing elite-level amateur golf after he won the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur, a United States Golf Association event targeted at post-college players. The Oklahoma State University psychology major gave up all competitive golf after playing in his second Masters Tournament the next year.
His focus flipped to price spikes from golf spikes as Double Eagle Capital, which he began in the summer of 2005 with $6 million in client money, began to grow. He now manages about $240 million for investors including Kyle Bass, whom Kuehne has known since he joined White Rock Capital Partners in Dallas in May 1997, three days after earning his MBA from OSU.
“Trip’s found a niche that works really well,” Bass, 45, said in a phone interview. “He’s got a network of high net- worth individuals who can’t necessarily meet $5 million minimums for individual hedge funds. Trip gives them the capacity to take $1 million or whatever and diversify it among four or five funds that are otherwise closed to individual investors.”
Bass hired Kuehne at Legg Mason Inc. in September 2001 and left in 2005 to begin his own hedge fund, Hayman Capital Management LP. Bass made a fortune betting against sub-prime mortgages in 2007 by predicting that U.S. home prices would tumble for the first time since the Great Depression.
Kuehne looks after money for about 90 or so clients, including Dallas Cowboys players and other athletes he declined to identify. Ditching the golf clubs hasn’t diminished his competitiveness.
“I’ve got a trophy over there that says we’re the best in the fund-of-funds business over a three-year period through 2009,” Kuehne said in an interview at his Irving, Texas, office. “I want a stack of them.”
Run by hand-picked money managers from firms including Paul Tudor Jones’s Tudor Investment Corp., Louis Bacon’s Moore Capital Management LP and David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management LP, Double Eagle’s $178 million Ace Fund generated a compounded annual rate of return of more than 10 percent from its inception in August 2005 through February, compared with an annual return of 8.2 percent for the S&P 500 in the same period.
Two clients have trusted Kuehne, who played in four U.S. Opens, with “north of $25 million each,” while the average buy-in is about $2.5 million, Kuehne said.