It was quite a week for Elmira’s Garrett Rank.
While hitting the links at the Canadian Open in Oakville last week, he got the news that he has been promoted to full-time referee in the National Hockey League.
Rank finished eight over par when all was said and done at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, tying for 77th place. It wasn’t his best finish, but he says he accomplished a personal goal of making it to the weekend round.
“I was trying to make the cut to play the weekend. I was a little scratchy on the weekend, and my score didn’t really reflect my play, but I was very happy with how it went. I was glad that I could play all four rounds of the tournament,” he said after the Canadian Open wrapped up.Leading into the big-time golf tournament, Rank spent as much time as he could on the links, playing tournaments all over North America.
“The two weeks prior to the Canadian Open, I was down in Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach playing in two tournaments, and the week of the Open, I played Glen Abbey twice before we started,” he said, mentioning that he needed to get a feel for the course before the strokes really started to count. “You want to determine what the conditions of the course are like, and how firm and fast you play.”
With so little rain this year, and high temperatures on the thermometer, he says the course was crispy.
“This year was really dry and the ball was rolling forever,” he said. “You really had to position your ball off the tee to get the proper angle when hitting the green. It was very hard to control your ball on the green, so you really had to play for the conditions.”
It wasn’t just the terrain that was affected by the heat.
“Throughout the week, I was tired or a little worn out from the heat. I had just spent the two weeks in pretty warm weather down south, so I don’t think it affected me too much, but it is definitely mentally and physically draining to be out there.”
After the Canadian Open wrapped up last weekend, Rank made his way to Toronto to put his signature on the papers naming him a full-time referee for the NHL, something he says he has dreamed of for a long time.
“I just signed my contract (Tuesday) morning. It is officially official. I am an official official,” he said with a laugh. “It has been a dream week for me. I am not sure it could get much better. It is a dream come true and I know I will have memories for a lifetime.”
Rank has worked as a referee for the past two years, hired by the American Hockey League, but still refereed in the big leagues here and there. Last season, he worked 31 games in the NHL and the rest of the season in the AHL. He says his promotion to full-time ref was a combination of hard work and good timing.
“It has a little to do with performance, a little bit to do with availability and jobs opening and a little bit of timing,” he said. “I was lucky enough to only have to spend a couple of years in the minor, and I am really excited for this next chapter.”
He won’t find out what his first game of the 2016-2017 season is quite yet, but he says it doesn’t really matter to him. He just loves the work.
“I was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan when I was growing up, and that is the team my family cheers for, but ultimately, when I am out on the ice, I have a job to do no matter which teams are playing,” he said. “You just have to stay out of the way and keep the game as safe and fair as possible.”