Former SM East golfers Chase Hanna, Connor Knabe pursuing dreams of turning pro

Connor Knabe says being a pro golfer has "kind of been a dream of mine my whole life."
Connor Knabe says being a pro golfer has “kind of been a dream of mine my whole life.”

Connor Knabe and Chase Hanna grew up together, developing a mutual love for the game of golf as youngsters at Meadowbrook Country Club. That shared passion propelled them to become two of the top golfers in the metro region as high schoolers, where they helped their Shawnee Mission East team become 6A runners up their senior year, when they both finished among the top 10 individual performers at the state tournament.

Four years later, with successful Big XII college careers under their belts, the childhood friends are pursing another shared dream: becoming professional golfers.

Both Knabe and Hanna played their first professional events this summer, and attended qualifying school for the PGA’s tour, the association’s developmental tour, two weeks ago.

“It’s kind of been a dream of mine my whole life,” Knabe said late last month before heading with Hanna to an event in Iowa. “At some point, you’ve got to follow your dreams. At least give it a try.”

Knabe spent his last four years playing for Kansas State. Hanna was 85 miles to the east at KU, where he wracked up a slew of honors, including the individual title in the Big XII tournament this past spring.

Both know that the path to earning a PGA Tour card is long and hard. But they are both excited by the opportunity to give their dreams a go.

“I think I’ve got the potential and talent do it,” Hanna said. “The idea is just to keep working hard.”

Still, the move away from the college game, where the schools cover the cost of practice and tournament entry, to the pro-level, where players have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to enter an event, is a little nerve-wracking.

“The level of competition is pretty close to what you saw in college,” Knabe said. “But there is more pressure, because if you don’t play well, you’re losing money.”