Sloan's passion for hockey remains strong
January 07, 2020
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Roger Sloan made his inaugural appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs last season. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Roger Sloan grew up dreaming of winning Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medals. He’s a Canadian, after all, and hockey is as much a way of life there as it is a sport.
Even now, as Sloan gets ready to tee it up at Waialae Country Club this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, hockey is a part of his life. And it’s not just because the 32-year-old is a big fan of the Calgary Flames.
Sloan, who is in the midst of his third season on the PGA TOUR, plays regularly in a men’s league in Houston, where he eventually settled after earning a degree in finance from the University of Texas-El Paso.
“It’s something I'm fairly good at,” Sloan says. “It's just, it's good to keep me athletic. ... So, when we're back home we kind of lace them up with the boys and you know, just go around for a good skate.”
Sloan, who tied for second last year at the Puerto Rico Open, says he usually plays once a week during the season when he’s back in Texas taking a break from the TOUR. He plays forward on a team called the Backside Five.
“It’s a good group of guys,” Sloan says. “The league I play in is actually very competitive because there's a lot of guys that used to play professionally over in Europe that are now in the oil and gas industry, you know, with Houston being a hub for (that).
“There's a lot of Canadian hockey players that have migrated down for their work. So, the league is actually very competitive which, which is good and pushes me to be able to be better.”
Hockey, of course, is a much more physical sport than golf. But Sloan says he doesn’t worry about, bruises, broken bones or bloodied noses.
“You can get hurt in the gym, you can get hurt skiing and you can get driving to the golf course,” he says. “There's so many things. So, you know what injuries are all around us, but you know, I can hold my own on a hockey rink.”
Sloan, who made the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time last season, started playing golf when he was 11 years old. His family had recently moved to Merritt, British Columbia, a town of just over 7,000 where some of the Academy Award-nominated movie “The Sweet Hereafter” was filmed.
Playing hockey was a given. But there was no little league baseball in the area so what was Sloan supposed to do in the summers? His father Curtis, an avid golfer, had the solution – he gave his son a set of MacGregor junior clubs.
Sloan, who was valedictorian of his high school class, learned the game at Merritt Golf & Country Club, a nine-hole layout where he holds the course record of 58 for two trips around the course. He made three eagles and eight birdies that day while one-putting 11 greens.
The accountability of golf was attractive to Sloan, who played four years at UTEP, posting four top-10s as a senior and making the NCAA regionals. But he really enjoyed the team atmosphere of hockey and has many great memories of playing with his friends -- both on the ice and inside the house where he remembers breaking doors and putting holes in the walls.
“I think when I look back at it, the whole being a Canadian playing hockey, your whole life revolved around hockey,” Sloan says. “Whether you're playing organized hockey or whether it was just after school, you know, when all the guys have grabbed their sticks and skates and they'd go to the rink in the neighborhood to even playing a little hallway hockey (or) as kid playing on your Nintendo or whatever it was -- you're always occupied with hockey. ...
“So many friendships I still have today were started with my hockey teammates.”
As Sloan became more serious about golf, though, he quit playing hockey. But he started skating again about five years ago.
“I took about a 10-year break, so I'm not nearly as good as I as I once was,” Sloan says. “Like I said, it's a good cardio workout. Keeps me athletic and I just really enjoy it.”
For now, though, the ocean breezes and swaying palm trees on Waikiki Beach offer a nice diversion.