NHL referee and part-time golfer Garrett Rank is living his dream.
Rank, who officiated 76 NHL games this season, qualified for the U.S. Open on Monday, shooting back-to-back 71s for a 2-under par at Ansley Golf Club in Roswell, Georgia.
NHL ref Daniel O’Rourke caddied for Rank.
NHL referee Garrett Rank is trading in his skates for golf shoes. Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire
“Was next to the best players in the world on the ice. … Next week I get to play with the best golfers in the world,” he told Sportsnet. “It’s a pretty cool life I’m living right now.”
Rank, 31, has been a full-time NHL referee since 2016 and worked three playoff games this season. He has also played in 15 USGA championships, and at the 2016 Canadian Open, a PGA Tour event, he finished 77th. But this will be his first U.S. Open.
Rank grew up Elmira, Ontario, playing both hockey and golf. The latter got him a scholarship to the University of Waterloo, where he was an accomplished amateur. He joined the Waterloo hockey team as a walk-on but had to give that up when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 and needed to take time for treatment.
He returned to golf though, and in 2012 made Golf Canada’s national team. He was also runner-up at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. All the while, he worked as an official doing junior games in the Ontario Hockey League. He worked his first NHL game in 2015 and was promoted to full time two years ago.
But this is the offseason in hockey, so he’ll be ready when the 108th U.S. Open begins June 14 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in New York.
“I’m just really proud of all the hard work and the dedication and time you put into the game. There will be a lot of really proud people back in Elmira,” Rank said.