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An N.H.L. Referee Trades Skates for Spikes as a U.S. Open Qualifier

Rank worked three games in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, but once he saw that his name was off the schedule for the second round, he knew his off-season had officially begun.

“That kind of opened up my golf schedule,” he said.

Despite the difficulty in finding playing time, he is hardly a neophyte of championship-caliber golf. He has competed in 15 U.S.G.A. championships before this week, finishing as the runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur, in which a victory would have gained him entry into the Masters. But Rank said he felt his play had improved in recent years because of his refereeing.

“You have to deal with the pressure of making a wrong call, and then you deal with the pressure of making a bad shot in golf,” Rank said. “And you have to be really decisive as well.”

Not surprisingly, Rank is a stickler for the rules of golf. He joked that he sometimes can’t stop himself from giving the on-course officials a hard time.

“It’s kind of funny, and I probably shouldn’t do it, but I feel like I take so much abuse on the ice,” Rank said. “I’m not mean to them, but I’m going to ask them questions and put them in a tough spot just to return the favor a little bit.”

Asked whether he would rather referee in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals or finish in the top 10 at the U.S. Open, Rank said he would choose the golf — for now.

“Save the Stanley Cup finals for 15 years down the road,” he said.

But, to some, he is already living in the best of both worlds.

“He gets to referee in the N.H.L., have the best seat in the house to watch some of the best athletes in the world,” Hughes said. “And he comes out here in the summers and plays high-level amateur golf and then makes a cameo in the U.S. Open. He’s got a pretty cool gig.”

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