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Irons on ice

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Golfers Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor each earned a PGA tour card for the 2014-15 season by demonstrating precision, patience and tremendous mental stamina.

None of those skills translated to the pair’s latest endeavor.

Last Friday Hadwin and Taylor, both professional golfers who call Abbotsford, BC, home, took part in an event never before seen in pro sports: Golfkey.

(Golf + hockey = golfkey)

“I’ve hit balls off frozen ponds before, but nothing like this,” said Hadwin, as he stepped onto the ice at Rogers Arena following Canucks practice.

The stage was set when he and Taylor arrived. Carpets laid out at the west end of the rink, clubs shined and ready, and an empty hockey net at the other end of the ice just waiting to be filled.

Then things got really interesting as Canucks forward Brad Richardson stepped onto the ice, club in hand. The first event pinned Hadwin against Taylor against Richardson to see who could get the ball in the net down the ice.

Easy.

The trio went 0-for-3 on their opening shots.

Not easy.

“I don’t think Adam missed again after that,” laughed Richardson. “You could tell who the golfers were and who is the hockey player.”

Hadwin nailed his next four shots to take the challenge; Richardson sunk two long distance shots, while Taylor landed a single.

On to the main event: chipping.

The net was moved to within 30 feet of the golfers and five water bottles were placed on top. Hit a water bottle, get a point.

The look in Taylor’s eyes said it all; he wasn’t to be denied this time around.

“I embarrassed myself in the first event,” said Taylor, tongue-in-cheek, “so redemption was really my only option.”

Taylor used his third shot to knock over a water bottle and he was the only player to do so. He even hit a second after the cameras stopped rolling. Hadwin hit the crossbar twice, while Richardson filled the net with every shot – he’s trained to do that, so let’s go easy on him.

“This was really cool, I’m proud to say I’m now an experienced golfkey player,” joked Hadwin, an avid Canucks fan who follows the team as much as possible while touring.

“It gets pretty hectic, but I try to make it work. Sometimes the schedules work that I get to watch the Canucks on the road in opposing rinks, other times I’m actually in Vancouver and I get to come, but then there’s the times I’m in Chile or Brazil awake until all hours of the morning watching them play.”

A Pavel Bure fan from the beginning, “because we’re about the same size – have to cheer for the small guys,” Hadwin is as excited for a new season of Canucks hockey as he is to play on the PGA tour.

“I’ve got the same nerves about both,” Hadwin joked. “The tour is what I’ve been striving for, what I’ve been working towards, so I’m eager to get going and see what goes on and how I play.”

As for Taylor, also a diehard Canucks fan that has the team top of mind throughout the season, he’s equally excited for a chance to play on the PGA tour and also relived he won the chipping contest on this day.

“The cameras were rolling, there was a lot of pressure there,” laughed Taylor. “It was really a treat to be on the ice here and get the behind the scenes tour of how everything here works.”

Golfers, golfkeyers and also puck drop specialists, Hadwin and Taylor performed the ceremonial puck drop before Vancouver’s final pre-season game last Saturday.

They aced it.

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