Garrett’s status as one of the greatest amateur golfers in the world began when the dreams of every little boy grew up in Canada – the hockey field.
The story of the stage that led from the small ice rink in his small hometown to the brutal area of Madison Square Garden in the center of Shinkok Hills Golf Club is still somewhat familiar but not surprising.
He was raised in Elmira, Ontario, about an hour and a half west of Toronto. He and his older brother, Kyle, did not play golf until he was 10 years old when he spent a long Canadian summer on a local course.
“My parents knew it was a safe place to relax and get out of trouble,” said Rank. “I was there 8 to 8 every day.”
He was 14 years old when he first appeared as a judge on the road to his late father, Rich, in the Elmira hockey community. At the Ontario Minority Hockey Association, Junior B Games climbed the ladder to work with the Ontario Hockey Association, and at the age of 21 he began working as a junior hockey major in the Ontario Hockey League.
As a player, he excelled at both hockey and golf junior levels and eventually earned a scholarship to the University of Waterloo in both sports.
– @ScoutingTheRefs November 27, 2021
Then life intervened.
A.D. In January 2011, in the middle of the third year of Waterloo, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After surgery and a series of treatments, Stage was cancer-free but his hockey career was over.
“It happened very quickly for me,” he recalls. “(I got the test) on Friday, and I had surgery on Monday morning. I didn’t have much time to give in or think I had cancer. It was like, ‘OK, I got this thing and we’ll get rid of it and then move on with my life.’
To keep up with life means to focus on serving and golf. He played for the Canadian national team and competed against Nathan Smith, a 2012 US amateur at the Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago in 2012. A.D. In 2014, he won the first of two consecutive Canadian Middle Amateur Championships and In 2019, Rank became the first Canadian to win the Western Amateur Championship in 42 years and the first intermediate amateur since 1997.
He competed in 23 USGA Championships, three at the US Mid-Amateurs, 9 at the US Amateurs and the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills.
On the ice, he was promoted to NHL in January 2015 and has now played over 400 games.
If Miguel Angel Jimenez is not “one of the most exciting golfers in the world,” that moniker could be Garrett’s standard.
In our latest episode of “A Quick Nine”, Garrett talks about the parallel roads in hockey and golf, how he grew up in Elmira and how he stays around the country as an NHL referee outside of the season.
Fast Nine with Garrett Level
Why do hockey players – and indeed officials – do such good golf?
The slap shot is very similar to golf swing. I have noticed that many hockey players have the same movement through the ball and the eye-catching combination is very similar. In Canada, the seasons are less crowded, and the lower the impact, the lower the risk of injury is a sport. Contact sports make this attractive to hockey players.
What was your introduction to golf in Elmira, Ontario?
My father and my older brother both played. My brother himself is a very talented player, so he eventually partnered with them at an early age before joining the Elmira Golf Club for a few years. My parents joked that membership was less expensive than childcare. It lasts all day, of course, losing your lunch money by working out with friends and putting on green.
Have you ever considered becoming a professional?
I gained experience in athletics at the Golf Canada National Golf Team and the University of Waterloo. When I leave school, I do not think my game is well stocked. I have improved a lot since then, but I have no regrets. I’m lucky to be playing at some of the biggest events of all time. Finally, at a young age, I did not have enough self-confidence, and this did not happen to me until I got a successful and full-time job.
My hope is that Garrett’s status should not be compromised between Shinkoke players this week, although he may need to pic.twitter.com/6v0cfltrCL
– Claire Rogers (@kclairerogers) June 11, 2018
How do you stay sharp during hockey?
The club has not been touched yet. I have to pack a lot of golf during the summer months so my body and mind need to be relaxed. I use a simulator and starter monitor to do some technical work and try to play it 5-10 times during the winter when I travel to warmer climates. I have always been an athlete for two years. I look forward to returning to the course in April and I do not know if I will feel the same way all year long.
What are the main highlights of your amateur work?
A.D. Winning the Western Amateur in 2019 is my main highlight. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to reach the top of golf that year, and it was really rewarding to finally get there. I did not know what to pursue for all these years but I was in many situations and it was a pleasure to finally find a big net.
We truly hope that picking thorns will be a thing of the past. pic.twitter.com/MHC1r6FT6u
– WGA Championship (@WGChamps) August 3, 2019
Royal Melbourne, I like to be crowded there. Royal County Down, the front nine was incredible and was everywhere in Chicago because I had some success there and I loved the courses. Elmira Golf Club, of course, for his memories and longings.
What is your daily routine during the summer?
I will try April and May to get things back on track and then June, July and August will be filled with 7-10 contests. I am a complete golf nerd and I am addicted to gambling so I don’t want it any other way. I spent my practice time at Westmont Golf and Country Club and it was amazing. Members are good and the course is clean. I play practice rounds during the race weeks and try to stay as fresh as possible. I also have a lot of good families at the games I play every year, so it’s a good idea to visit them. They know the differences of each course by playing the same program each winter.
Which part of your game are you working on all the time?
Your short game may not be clean enough and your mind will never be sharp enough. I’ve done some really hard work in my short game over the last 3-4 years to try and make a bullet defense and if you don’t have the best things you can save a lot of bullets or do something out of the ordinary. I have grown up and learned from my past experiences to experiment with emotions, decision-making and self-confidence and to be mentally better. It’s a free way to improve your skills with a good head.
Which NHL players will be at the top of your list as a quadruple partner?
I know a lot of guys are good at golf and we always have funny conversations about it on the ice but none of them want to join the reference.