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Alex Fowke moves from the rinks to the links

Alex Fowke wasn't the first local hockey prospect who pursued his on-ice dreams, even as the potential for success in other sports was readily apparent.

He most certainly won't be the last.

The 18 year old smooth skating forward, a mainstay within the SMHA AAA stream prior to suiting up with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians of the NOJHL, recently announced his intentions to join the Ranger College Rangers (quite appropriately situated in Ranger, Texas) golf team this fall.

The hope is to springboard from one year at the junior college ranks into a Division I NCAA scholarship, a most reasonable goal when one considers the amount of hockey training that would have come at the expense of bettering his golf game, over the years.

"Hockey is something that you put in so many hours, even in the summer, on the ice three times a week, in the gym five times a week," said Fowke. "It's everything that I did, especially every winter. Just that factor alone would make hockey the front-runner for me."

And it's not as though we are talking about just some average run of the mill rep hockey player here. Blessed with size, natural athleticism and above-average skating ability, Fowke has attended tryouts in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) in recent years.

"I was close enough with hockey," he stated. "Just as easily as it didn't happen, it could have easily happened. I'm not disappointed with how everything worked out, because I do think that everything worked out for the best in the end."

Indeed - for starters, there are certainly elements of transferability in play as Fowke moves from the rinks to the links. "I take a lot of things from hockey to the golf course, things I have learned over the years," he said.

"Even simple things, like the work ethic that is needed, the intensity of the training in hockey which translates over and makes me a better golfer, and just the mentality that you need to be aggressive in both sports, to be a step ahead."

If moving from a slapshot to a golf swing has been relatively seamless for the eldest of three athletic children in the family, there is a differentiation that he noted in the mental approach. "In golf, you get many different things thrown at you over the entire round," he said.

"In golf, you have to be strategic and plot your way around the course. When you're on the ice, it's a lot of the same thing."

In fact, learning how best to attack each and every course, learning when to shoot for birdie and when to settle for par, might be the single biggest key in allowing Fowke to reach the next level in golf.

"My driving distance and my play off the tee is there," he said. "I'm hitting the ball even further this year, and with working on a few more things, I'm hitting it even more straight. To move forward and get better, I have to learn to hit numbers, learn to play the shot I want into the green, to get my wedges dialed in."

"I like where my short game is right now, it was really on point this weekend," added Fowke, who cracked the eight-man Ryder Cup roster for Team Timberwolf Golf Club yet again this summer.

As for the decision to zone in on Ranger College, the graduate of St Charles College sees many a benefit to veering towards the Rangers. "In Texas, there is obviously a long golf season," he said. "It will be 35 (degrees celcius) when I get there in a month or so and the ball will be flying."

"One of our first tournaments is in New Mexico and the elevation is super high, so we'll be looking to bomb it there. It was the best development spot for my game, with a good coach and great facilities. I could have went NCAA Division 1 right now, but the package would not be as nice as I want it to be a year from now."

"With playing hockey so much, I didn't get to play in as many (golf) tournaments as the average golfer got to play. I was still in the rinks and the gym, and then at training camp on August 15th."

Still, there are no regrets, as Fowke acknowledged that in at least one sense, hockey played a pivotal role in opening this door.

"A lot of recruiters seem to like guys that can play two sports," he said. "When they look at that, they just know that you're an athlete."

An athlete that, from time to time, will simply take a little bit longer to find their final path to success.

Orendorff and Associates