The Waste Management Open Monday Qualifier is filled with PGA Tour winners. Ryan Palmer and his four PGA Tour wins will be there, as will two-time winner, James Hahn. Almost all 30 KFT graduates holding a PGA Tour card are not in the WMO field and will tee it up on Monday. The Waste Management Open Monday has become the Super Bowl of Monday Qs, filled with recognizable names. But among those names are dreamers who are 18 holes away from a big break.
On Sunday, most of the players in the Monday Q field played a practice round and at least a few of them had their bags put on the cart by Jake Chanen. Chanen works outside services for Pinnacle Peak Country Club, where the qualifier is being contested. But Chanen has Monday off from work and a chance to earn a spot in the WMO.
Chanen played college golf at Grand Canyon University, where he had an excellent college career, averaging just over 72 his senior year. After graduation in 2020, he turned pro, found some financial support from guys at his club, and headed out on the mini-tours. He played the Outlaw Tour and Dakotas Tour, and found some success. There were some top-10s and reasons for optimism. But Chanen wasn’t enjoying pro golf.
“I wasn’t having fun,” Chanen says. “I know it was my job, but I never wanted it to feel like work, and it did.”
A phone call right before the last Dakotas event of the season in 2022 from his sponsors saying they were done supporting him was almost a relief. Chanen finished T16 that week and despite his feelings about pro golf, spent every dime he saved working at Pinnacle Peak to go to Q-school. He missed advancing through the first stage.
Jake Chanen was done with pro golf. In fact, for a while, he was done with the game altogether. He didn’t touch a club for a month. Slowly, he started playing again with friends and family and golf suddenly became fun. He applied to regain his amateur status in the summer of 2023.
After he stopped playing professionally, Chanen picked up extra hours at Pinnacle Peak and took a job valeting cars at a local steakhouse in the evenings. He works nearly 50 hours a week between the two jobs. In between, he squeezes in a few rounds. Most of those rounds are at Pinnacle Peak because the membership lets the employees play when it’s not busy.
“I love golf again,” Chanen says, although he has no desire to play professionally again.
Last month, Chanen decided he would play the pre-qualifier for the WMO “just for fun.” It would be his first qualifier since regaining his amateur status. He was assigned a spot at Lone Tree Country Club, a course he had played “a million times.” Chanen told me it was nice to tee it up without the financial worries, and it showed when he birdied five of the first six holes. He faced a long second shot into the wind on the par-five 18th (Chanen’s 9th hole). A birdie would have given him a front-nine 29.
Instead, he chunked his second shot into a fairway bunker, hooked the next into the water, and three-putted for a triple bogey, going out in 33. Driving to his back nine, he texted a friend: “That was either the end, or I’m going to make a bunch of birdies on the back.”
A bunch of birdies it was. Five to be exact, punctuated with a tap-in birdie on par-five 9th – his closing hole. It added up to a 7-under 64. The round included 10 birdies and a triple bogey, and it was good enough to earn a spot in the Super Bowl of Mondays.
After his Sunday shift ended around 2pm, Chanen headed out to play a few holes. On Monday, he will tee it up with a chance to fulfill a dream of playing an event on the PGA Tour.
What would happen if Chanen got through?
“I would just enjoy every second of it, no matter what happens,” he says.
A tee time and a dream. It’s hard not to be romantic about Mondays.