Mark Scheifele traded in his hockey stick for a set of golf clubs on Thursday.
The popular Winnipeg Jets star competed in the Players Cup, a Canadian PGA event at Southwood Golf and Country Club just south of Winnipeg.
It was the first time Scheifele had played in a professional tournament. He grew up playing on the links in his home province of Ontario.
“It was fun. Hit some good shots, hit some bad shots, spent probably a little too much time in the fescue,” said Scheifele.
The hockey player’s goal going into the tournament was to make the cut, but he shot an 87 on Thursday, which was 15 over par.
He said he now has a new appreciation for professional golfers.
“I got to the 13th hole and I was wiped; I need a nap right now. It’s crazy the mental fortitude that they have, the bounceback that they need to have,” he said.
Despite playing in front of thousands of screaming fans every night, Scheifele said the nerves crept in on the first tee box.
“I think I blacked out when I hit. It was crazy. You’d think playing in front of thousands of fans in hockey you’d be used to it, but when you got a golf club in your hand it’s a totally different story. There was a few puts where I felt like I was going to have a heart attack,” he said.
Scheifele played as part of a threesome alongside professional Manitobans Justin McDonald and Andrew Steep.
“He was a class act all the way around,” said Steep. “The consummate professional, just a great guy, and lots of fun playing with him.”
Asked if golfing will help him with his hockey career, Scheifele was blunt.
“No. Nothing, nothing at all,” he laughed. “It’s a totally different animal, but it’s a fun game to play when you’re playing with good guys. It’s such a great sport to play day in, day out.”
The 156-player field is competing for a $200,000 purse, with $36,000 going to the winner.
Scheifele will be back on the course on Friday. The tournament wraps up on Sunday.