For those still wondering or worried about Andrej Nestrasil’s back, the Canes’ forward has been participating in all the informal skates.
He also has been playing golf. Last week, he teed it up at Duke Golf Course one day and then Lonnie Poole Golf Course the next, saying there was no soreness or discomfort in the back.
“If I felt like it was hurting me, I wouldn’t play,” he said.
Nestrasil, 25, suffered a broken vertebra in late February that ended his season. The rehab went well and he began skating on schedule in July. When the Czech Republic had a few players recently drop off its World Cup roster, Nestrasil was contacted about his availability and says he felt well enough to compete.
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A mutual decision was made not to play. The Canes wanted the Prague native to return to Raleigh so their doctors could take another look and assess his physical progress. Nestrasil decided it would be best to skate with the Canes, then get in a full training camp, getting into competition in NHL exhibition games rather than full-tilt World Cup games.
And play some golf. Hockey players love the sport and it’s easy for most to get started. Buy some clubs, maybe take a few lessons, get a tee time and let it rip.
But not in the Czech Republic, Nestrasil said. Golfers there need a license to play golf, he said. Getting a green-card license requires getting a coach and then playing nine holes with the coach.
When a golfer can score 63 or lower, Nestrasil said, they qualify for a license. The cost: about $100, Nestrasil said.
Nestrasil said he started playing four years ago. He took a few lessons, then had a 44 on nine holes to qualify for his license.
“I was told of all the courses in the world, 75 percent are in the U.S.” he said. “There are not a lot back home and they want to protect the golf courses and make sure no one comes in and ruins the course.”
As part of the golf “exam,” as he put it, golfers are taught the rules and golf etiquette by their coach.
“You can’t just show up in a tank top with three beers in your hand,” he said.
Nestrasil, who said he has played more than a half-dozen times this summer, said he never improves his lie, putts out on every green and does not take mulligans.
“I hate when people are cheating,” he said. “If I see someone practice swing, practice swing, then he whiffs, I count it. I’m pretty strict.”
The golf swing creates a lot of torque in the back, but Nestrasil said he was told golf could be a good thing, helping keep the back limber.
”I feel really good out there and it gives me a mental break, too,” he said.