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A perfect ending

KU senior Hanna Hawks capping off her meaningful & memorable college golf career with some of her best days yet

5 min read
KU senior Hanna Hawks smiles during a break in the action at a golf tournament earlier this season. Earlier this week, the Jayhawks earned their second consecutive trip to the postseason. [Kansas Athletics photo]

As a native Kansan who was born in Wichita, KU senior Hanna Hawks always knew she would stay in the Sunflower State for college.

And even though she grew up a hardcore KU fan, she decided it was only right to at least take a visit to Kansas State when she was trying to decide where to play college golf.

There was just one small problem.

“I did enjoy the visit,” Hawks told R1S1 Sports during a recent sit-down interview. “But I had to go buy a purple shirt for the visit. And I was like, ‘You know, that might be a sign; I don’t even have anything in my closet that’s purple.’”

For the most part, that’s still very much the case and, with four years as a Jayhawk now under her belt, Hawks has become even more passionate about the school she grew up loving.

“When it came down to it, it just didn’t make sense to be anywhere but KU,” she said. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Through two coaching staffs, countless teammates and as the lone remaining member of her freshman class, Hawks has emerged as not only one of the more consistent parts of the KU golf program but also a bona fide team leader.

Voted a co-captain by her teammates back in January, Hawks has used what she believes is God’s timing to make her last semester her best. But her individual success is only a part of that equation.

As the lone senior on a team that has routinely rewritten the KU record books this spring — the 2024 team has broken the program’s 18-hole, 36-hole and 54-hole team scoring records — Hawks has led the group with the perfect blend of poise and passion mixed with an open ear and unrelenting effort.

“No one loves KU more than Hanna Hawks and no one wants to have success for KU women’s golf more than Hanna Hawks,” KU coach Lindsay Kuhle told R1S1 Sports. “That passion and buy-in of really wanting to put her name on the map for KU — and to put KU women’s golf on the map — is really important to her and her family.”

KU senior Hanna Hawks has been all-Jayhawk from the start. [R1S1 Sports photo]

Kuhle said Hawks’ father, Steve, and mother, Traci, have been at every tournament this season. Their presence, along with Hawks’ hard work, has created the perfect ending to a memorable and meaningful career.

But none of it just happened, Kuhle said.

“To play good golf, it has to come from deep inside you,” the coach explained. “It has to be your own will and desire and drive. And Hanna just really wants to leave this program in a better place, and she’s just playing incredible golf and has been since our first practice trip in the middle of January.”

Hawks entered the spring playing in the No. 2 spot for the Jayhawks. She has not been out of the lineup since, carrying a 73.52 scoring average and three top-20 finishes into the postseason.

And as the Jayhawks prepare for their second consecutive trip to NCAA Regionals next week — and third overall in program history — Hawks moves forward with her signature smile of gratitude and a stealthy assassin’s mindset.

KU senior Hanna Hawks watches her tee shot fly toward the fairway during a tournament earlier this season. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Like her teammates, she believes the Jayhawks, when they’re at their best, can compete with anybody.

KU is seeded 9th at the 12-team event in Washington, and the top five programs at the three-day tournament will advance to nationals.

Hawks said it’s her job, as the oldest member of the group, to make sure the team sticks to the key component that has led them — and her — to such a strong season. Working together as one cohesive unit.

“I’ve just seen over the last few years how that can make or break a program,” Hawks said. “To feel support from your teammates goes so far. We could be sick of each other by the time that we get done with our 20 hours a week (at the KU golf facility), but that’s just not the case with this group. We all enjoy spending time around each other outside of our sport and we’ve been like that all year.”

A good chunk of that approach came from her upbringing.

Hawks credits the golf-crazed community of Wellington, Kansas, where she grew up, for helping her fall in love with the game.

“Wellington really fosters junior golf in an amazing way,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be the golfer I am without Wellington in my background.”

In addition to several Kansas state champions calling Wellington home, Hawks said her summers on the local golf course were all about bringing as many young people to the game as possible.

“We like owned the course in the summer,” she joked. “It was so fun. We were out there all day and that really grew my love for the game.”

“No one loves KU more than Hanna Hawks, and no one wants to have success for KU women’s golf more than Hanna Hawks.” — KU coach Lindsay Kuhle

Hawks, who graduated from Trinity Academy in Wichita before becoming a Jayhawk, participated in other sports and activities while growing up. Volleyball, music theater and church were a huge part of her upbringing. But from an early age, golf always had her heart.

Beyond Wellington’s influence and Hawks’ natural ability, there was another big reason for her love of the sport.

Her father, Steve, was and still is an avid golfer. But Hawks was the only one of his four daughters who found supreme joy in joining him on the course.

“It was like my thing that I got to do with my dad,” she said, smiling.

KU teammate and co-captain Jordan Rothman, shared similar stories of the bond that golf created for her and her father while growing up in South Africa.

It’s those types of connections, along with this team’s shared and genuine desire to truly care about one’s teammates, that has Hawks calling this the best group she’s been a part of at KU.

The scores and successes are merely bonuses.

“It’s been a great experience this year; it’s such a fun way to cap off my four years here,” Hawks said. “We have the best group that I’ve been on, all the way from our head coach down to our freshmen. We just have such a great group right now.”

“I love that I’m getting to be here at the beginning of that,” she added. “But I think that this is totally just the beginning.”

Hawks and her teammates will head to Cle Elum, Washington late next week to begin final preparations for the NCAA Regional held at Tumble Creek Golf Club, May 6-8.

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