By Cassie Stein, Golfweek.com
As a child in Canada, Garrett Rank shared the dream of so many of his peers: playing in the NHL.
As a teen, Rank found that his dreams changed when he started to excel on the golf course more than on the ice.
By his mid-20s, Rank was succeeding in golf (2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur runner-up and Golf Canada national team member) and hockey (official in Ontario Hockey League).
So, his goals are shifting again.
Rank, 27, of Elmira, Ontario, will become a full-time American Hockey League referee for the 2014-15 season.
“The end goal is to be in the Stanley Cup Final game or Olympic gold-medal game,” Rank said. “But for golf, I want to win a PGA Tour tournament, too.”
As his new dreams come to life, Rank reflects on his amateur golf career thus far, officiating and his future in golf and hockey:
Golfweek: You signed your AHL contract on Sept. 1, and right after AHL referee orientation, you won the Canadian Mid-Amateur Championship, on Sept. 19. What did that win mean to you?
Rank: It was nice to finally get a win this summer. I was knocking on the door a bunch and was playing the best golf of my life this summer. I gave myself a lot of chances, and it was finally nice to win, and obviously to get that Canadian Open sponsor exemption is really nice. (It will be his first PGA Tour start.)
Golfweek: How did you get into officiating?
Rank: I started when I was younger. My dad was an official. It was an easy job on Saturday and Sunday mornings when I was 15 and 16 years old. When I stopped playing hockey, I got into it seriously. Some opportunities came up, and I’ve moved along quickly.
Golfweek: Do you still have plans to play amateur golf during the summer months?
Rank: Absolutely. I’m just in talks with Golf Canada about the program. They offered me a spot for next year, but at the same token I have to be fair to them and see if I can plan my schedule with the hockey. I have some free time during the week (when he’s not officiating), and I’m going to try my best to fit in some golf, although it’ll be nice to get a break for a couple of months. Once it gets cold, I’ll be at the golf dome Monday through Thursday for golf and then back in the gym to stay in shape.
Golfweek: How are golf and officiating similar, and what have they taught you?
Rank: Both things kind of have the same aspect of things you can and can’t control. Golf, you can control your mental approach but not the bad bounces you can have. In the AHL, you can control what calls you make; you can’t control the decisions the players make. So it’s the mental part of golf and officiating that’s the same. You have to say extremely patient in both. You’re going make a bad swing or a bad call, so I can use the reffing toward golf and golf toward reffing.
Golfweek: When is your first game, and how do you think you will feel stepping on the ice for the first time?
Rank: This weekend. It’ll be Charlotte at Milwaukee and then Charlotte at Chicago. I’m used to it. I think it’s a lot of fun. I’ll go out there and try to be the best I can be and just have fun with it. I really enjoy it. I don’t think there will be too many nerves since I’ve done it before.