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Panthers Prospects Forge New Friendships at Topgolf

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

Development Camp: Topgolf Outing

Florida Panthers Development Camp: Topgolf Outing

Interviews with Director of Player Personnel Bryan McCabe, Jonathan Ang, Owen Tippett and Logan Hutsko

  • 02:45 •

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - It's just like using a hockey stick, right?

After spending a few days indoors running through various drills and conditioning workouts, the Florida Panthers treated the attendees of last week's development camp to a special afternoon away from the ice at Topgolf, a driving range that scores shots based on accuracy and distance.

"It's a great opportunity the get the guys out of their comfort zone," Panthers Director of Player Personnel Bryan McCabe said. "A lot of these guys have never golfed before. It's a really casual atmosphere for everyone. It's been a great day… This definitely levels the playing field."

While there are certainly some similarities between swinging a hockey stick and a golf club - a reason why so many current NHL-ers spend their summers hitting the links - the Topgolf outing proved to be an incredibly tough test for even some of Florida's most-talented prospects.

"We're all at the IceDen for a reason," said Owen Tippett, the 10th overall pick in 2017. "We all have skill [on the ice], but when you get out here it's interesting to see what guys can do on the golf course… I'm not that good of a golfer. I've been trying to get out more and more."

Still, despite a few hooks and shanks, the event succeeded in bringing the athletes together.

"We've got guys here from all over the world, all different leagues," Tippett said. "Any time you can get us all together for an event like this, it's going to help build chemistry."

In order to help facilitate the team bonding, the 30-plus prospects attending the camp were split into smaller groups of six and then assigned to one of the driving range's bays. This mixing and matching of talent allowed players to mingle, mock and simply have fun with their teammates.

For whether you're a top pick or an undrafted free agent, golf can be equally cruel to both.

"It's to be expected," said 2017 fifth-round pick Tyler Inamoto. "I shanked some shots, but we're all great athletes here. It's a great time getting to know some new people. I'm enjoying it."

After only a handful of attempts, Inamoto said, most prospects were able to find their swing.

"Justin's over there, smacking it," he said, pointing to 2018 sixth-round pick Justin Schütz. "It's a great time getting to know some new people. I think we all pick up on this stuff pretty fast. A lot of us, especially some of these Euros, have never played before… but Justin's over there, cranking shots like a natural."

A native of Kassel, Germany, Schütz said golf was as foreign to him as South Florida.

"I never played golf before in my life," said Schütz, who was one of only two German-born players selected in last month's draft. "At the beginning I was fighting it a little bit because I didn't even know if I was a lefty or a righty, but it's been good."

While it's unclear who ended up with the top score, every prospect left the range with at least a few new friends.

"At the ice, you know them a little bit already," Schütz said. "Now, we've talked more and know each other much better. We're all friends."

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