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Thompson at home on the links
By ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun, Mon. Sept. 14, 1998. Rocky Thompson pumps his fist in the air and instantly flashes the gap-toothed grin dozens of NHL tough guys will try hard to rearrange this year. Rocky is pumped. The cause for such celebration comes not at the hands of a convincing knockout punch or a pretty tip-in from the top of the crease. It's from a birdie. Thompson just rolled in a tricky 20-ft. slider to score a two on a tricky 216-yd. par-3, eighth hole at the Country Club of the Hamptons. "Thanks guys," says a rather sheepish-looking Thompson, as his playing partners line up to high-five him. For most Flames fans, the thought of seeing the 21-year-old Flames fighter at a posh country club likely conjures up images of an angry Captain Caveman-sort hammering wildly at the ball and following it up with a string of angry words and club-throwing. But there is another side of Rocky Thompson Flames fans likely won't see at the rink. It's a side that has him dressed neatly in a pair of cuffed Tommy Hilfiger cords, a grey golf shirt and a polished pair of white golf shoes. His hair tied neatly in a pony tail and partially covered with a hat, Thompson looks every bit the part of a golfer. That's because it was his first love. "That's all we'd do as kids," said Thompson, who started playing at the local golf course in his hometown of Whitecourt at age four. "I wouldn't say PGA or anything but I thought a lot about being a club pro." It may seem hard to fathom turning to Thompson for tips on your short game, but a round on the links with the Flames enforcer makes it clear he's all class. A long-ball hitter who can hit his three iron upwards of 260-yds., Thompson also possesses surprisingly soft hands that have saved many a par with deft chip shots. "Some people are a little surprised I was a good golfer," says Rocky, who was a scratch junior golfer who's seen his handicap balloon to an eight due to a shortage of rounds. "From age 14 to 16 I qualified for the Alberta Juniors and one year I finished in the top 10." He even made it to the Canadian juniors in Nanaimo one year before moving to Medicine Hat where he put golf on the back burner so he could concentrate on hockey and boxing. "Golf will always be there and maybe in the future I'll compete again," said Rocky, as he tip-toes around my putting line to fix a ball mark. "It's a great game."