In picking a college to continue his golf career, Dane Hankamer turned down not one but multiple Ivy League schools.
To him, the Air Force simply offered an opportunity that was different from the rest.
“Just that Air Force gives you the opportunity to play Division I golf, get a great education and serve your country,” Hankamer said.
On Thursday, Hankamer, a state champion golfer and an all-region basketball player for Salado, signed a letter of intent to play golf at the United States Air Force Academy.
Hankamer chose Air Force over Brown, Harvard and Princeton.
Hankamer will head to Air Force as his father, Ty, once did as a football player.
But following in his father’s footsteps wasn’t the plan.
“Actually following in his footsteps did the opposite. It didn’t appeal to me,” Dane said. “But I know that there was a great opportunity and I really couldn’t pass it up.”
As good as Hankamer is at basketball, helping lead the Eagles to an undefeated district title this past season, he said golf has always been his first love.
And despite being a defending state champion in Class 2A, Salado boys and girls golf coach Ty Brown said Hankamer can be even better at the next level.
“I think once he is at Air Force and he’s a full-time golfer and that’s all he’s doing, I don’t think he’s scratched the surface of his ability yet,” Brown said. “As good as he is, I think he can be much better when he becomes a full-time golfer.”
Brown said the same skills that help Hankamer on the basketball court, where he is a ferocious rebounder with a soft touch around the rim, also help him on the golf course, as his short game is one of his strengths.
But Brown said what makes Hankamer special, and an anchor to the Eagle team, is his mentality under pressure.
“He doesn’t have many bad holes, but when he does he’s usually really good at either saving it with the putter or just moving on,” Brown said. “Long story short, compartmentalizing is a big asset of his.”
Of all his accolades and achievements on the hardwood and in golf, Hankamer said signing his letter of intent was at the top of his list.
Now, with his dream of playing Division I golf squared away, he is hoping to add to that list as the Eagle golf team prepares for the regional tournament.
“We’re just looking to go out on a strong note and hopefully grab a team state golf championship this year,” Hankamer said.