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Nathan Green likes soccer...a lot. (Image: Buried Elephant/Flickr)

Nathan Green is a professional golfer. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He did win the Canadian Open last year.

Anyway, as a pro golfer, you would expect Mr. Green to opt for an opportunity to qualify for the U.S. Open over, say, watching the World Cup on the television. No-brainer, right?

Think again. After finishing 41st in last week’s Memorial, Green told Golfweek he was scrapping his plans to qualify for the Open on Monday: “I’m really not that interested in playing it,” Green said. “I’d rather sit home on the couch and watch soccer than beat my head against a brick wall for four days.”

To that quote, one veteran Tour caddie responded: “Let’s face it, [not showing up] proves some of these guys make too much money.”

Isn’t that the truth. Look, I’m all for supporting your country in The World Cup. I come out of soccer-watching hibernation every four years to support the U.S. team.

But, even though Green is an Aussie (and that’s who he’ll be cheering for), I still can’t comprehend passing up the opportunity to qualify for–and possibly play in–The United States Open. Wow.

Hey Nathan, have you ever heard of DVR? Geesh.

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I’m going local today.

As some of you may know, I live in Nashville. Life has been crazy here in Music City during the last week.

The Great Flood of 2010 (or The 1,000 Year Flood as it’s also been called) has impacted tens of thousands of people throughout our city. Some of our landmarks like Opryland, The Country Music Hall of Fame, and LP Field have taken pretty bad damage from the flooding. The flood has claimed twenty casualties to this point. No matter where you turn, you see damage. President Obama officially recognized the city as a disaster area, meaning it’s now open for federal funding to help restore peoples’ lives.

My wife and I were fortunate. Flood waters reached our front yard, but stayed out of the house. Neighbors three houses down had water reach a few feet below their second level. One neighbor had to be rescued by boat. A friend who lives in Bellevue rescued 25 people in his boat and carried them to safer ground. Another friend lost the entire inventory of his store.

I helped some friends rip up hardwood floors and sheet rock yesterday, and I was stunned by the amount of damage in one neighborhood. You literally can hardly see houses because of the piles of debris and trash now in front yards and driveways, lined up and down entire streets. It’s indescribable.  No one ever thought this could happen in Nashville.

I could show you photos of our neighborhood, downtown Nashville, Franklin or Bellevue (google Nashville flood photos if you’re interested), but I thought I’d stick to the theme of this blog and show you some photos* from our local golf courses.

Not too many people are focused on golf around here during the past week, but it will give you an idea of the damage. Keep in mind that these courses are spread out all over the city. The flood didn’t just hit one area—it was widespread.

Gaylord Springs sits next to the Opryland Hotel. This is an immaculate, difficult course that has hosted Senior Tour events. This course has been closed until further notice.

Gaylord Springs Clubhouse nearly underwater...the course isn't even visible.

The Golf Club of Tennessee is a private course just west of the city.

Golf Club of Tennessee underwater.

Old Hickory Country Club damaged.

18th tee isn't even visible.

The Legends Course in Franklin is one of the most popular private courses in the area. Awesome track.

Twelfth Hole.

Mccabe Golf Course is a short, fun municipal course that I’ve played many times. I’ve even wrote about it. It’s a 27 hole layout, and 9 of the holes are now closed.

Serious damage at McCabe.

Mccabe will stay open but will now be a par 67 while damage is repaired.

More serious damage at Mccabe.

And those are just a few of the courses affected. Harpeth Hills has been closed. Richland Country Club has serious bunker damage. The list goes on.

If you live in the area, you know the damage we’ve seen here. It’s rough. But I’m amazed by the spirit of everyone in Nashville. Everyone seems to have picked themselves up and decided to move on with life, no matter how difficult the past weekend has been. It’s inspiring, really.

Some of these courses are an important part of Nashville’s business, and just like the city itself, they’ll bounce right back.

*Photos property of respective copyright holders. Used for informational purposes only.

Dickie V. takes on The Masters. (Image: nathan_malone/Flickr)

As I was driving into work yesterday morning, I heard a brief clip of an interview with Dick Vitale by Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio. Vitale was on the show to discuss The Final Four, but—as he always does—he wandered off on another topic.

I couldn’t find his quotes online, but essentially Vitale said that The Masters and Tiger Woods should be ashamed for scheduling the Woods press conference on the day of the NCAA Championship Game.

The basketball title game would be overshadowed in newspapers the next morning because of Tiger Woods. I’m paraphrasing, but he continued on to say something like, “These kids (the basketball players) deserve better.”

Come on, Dickie V? Really? This is why I’ve never been a fan of Vitale. He says stupid crap on a regular basis. But, more than that, the continuing of theme of people whining about when Tiger Woods schedules his press conferences is really getting stale.

Do we really expect The Masters of all places to say, “Oh, you know what, the NCAA Championship Game is tonight, maybe we should move the Tiger presser to Tuesday so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.” Ridiculous.

This is The Masters we are talking about. They hardly even allow advertising during their tournament. They have the cheapest concession prices in professional sports. They do what they want.

This is the most legendary tournament in golf. And, last I checked, the NCAA doesn’t have any problem with scheduling the game on opening day of baseball. So I don’t think a 30 minute press conference with Tiger Woods—probably saying absolutely nothing of substance—is going to be an issue.

If it were up to guys like Ernie Els and Dick Vitale, Tiger’s press conferences would be at 3 a.m. in his basement. Get over it, guys.

Corporate sponsorships and sports have a long history.

But in the last 20 years, at least over the time period that I have been a die-hard sports fan, it seems like corporate sponsorships have gone to a new level. For instance, how many bowl games in college football have ridiculous names because of corporate sponsorships?

The Waste Management Phoenix Open...brought to you buy trash. (Image: helloerica/Flickr)

How about the PapaJohns.com Bowl or the competing Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl? The sponsors take over the bowl and drop the traditional name. I still call Atlanta’s bowl game the Peach Bowl and not the Chick-Fil-A bowl.

Anyway, I say all this because this week’s tournament on the PGA Tour reminded me of this trend. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is underway. Fabulous.

It’s not like the PGA hasn’t had corporate sponsors for years: Buick, AT&T, BMW, Coke. But something about the ridiculousness of this week’s tournament name reminded me of the ridiculousness of college football bowl games. Perhaps the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s slogan is: “Welcome to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Don’t poop on the players.”

In this down economy, the Tour needs sponsors, so even a company that is full of crappy, stinky poo is fair game. All we need now is a port-a-potty endorsement from John Daly and we are good to go. The advertisement could go something like this:

“Hi. I’m John Daly. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. That’s why Big John’s Port-a-Johns are here for you. Next time you just can’t wait, take a quick sprint across the 7th fairway, hop in to one of Big John’s Port-a-Johns, and do your business in peace. You’ll be able play the rest of your round with a relaxed stomach and a relaxed swing. With Big John’s Port-a-Johns, you can drop your business while you drop your scores. That’s what we’re all about. Thanks.”

So what do you think? The beauty of corporate sponsorships is that you never really know. As crazy as it sounds, do you really think John Daly wouldn’t endorse a port-a-potty company for a couple of million?

Coming in 2011: The Michael Jordan Hanes Underwear Los Angeles Open.

Who thinks Kevin Costner looked like a better golfer? (Image: andrew .larimer/Flickr)

You can’t make this stuff up. Really. You can’t.

Spike TV, perhaps you’ve heard of it, is about to begin filming a comedy starring John Schneider (you might know him as Bo Duke). The catch? Schneider plays a washed-up U.S. Open champion attempting to make a comeback. The show will be called The Back Nine.

But since Spike TV figured that a golf comedy starring Bo Duke was unlikely to make much noise, they upped the ante. Schneider’s character will have a sex-addicted caddy named….wait for it…Tiger.

The show has supposedly been in the works long before Tiger’s world came crashing down. But I don’t believe it. It’s an easy way to get cheap publicity for what will probably be a crappy show that lasts a few episodes.

I don’t think I even get Spike TV on DirecTV. So you guys will have to tell me how bad this show sucks.

Random photo of drug capsules in the shape of the American Flag to visually enhance this post. (Image: pappajohn1969/Flickr)

Back in the fall, I totally missed the story of a little known former Tour player, Doug Barron,  who was given a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour. Barron was the first person to violate the Tour’s anti-doping policy. Barron hasn’t played on the PGA Tour in three years. The ban kept him from participating in Q School last fall.

In response, Barron signed up for the eGolf Professional Tour last week. eGolf is a mini-tour based out of North Carolina. The leading money winner made $140,000 last year.

Barron tested positive for testosterone and propranolol, saying a doctor gave him approval to use the drugs for health reasons. He’s currently appealing the suspension.

The story isn’t that interesting, really. I know…so why post it on my blog? I think it raises a greater question. How prominent are steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in golf?

Look, golfers don’t deal with ongoing injury problems like baseball and football players. But if a quick pill can keep an ailing knee or a painful back from being so bothersome, or speed up the recovery process, then will pro golfers take the bait? And, if so, is the doping policy going to be effective enough to stop them?

I honestly don’t think a lot of golfers are doping. But we’ve got a whole new generation of kids coming up who watched one pro athlete after another get suspended or make the news for using steroids. Let’s hope they haven’t bought in.

Image: MatthwJ/Flickr

During a press conference call yesterday, Jack Nicklaus spoke briefly about Tiger’s indefinite leave–and how Tiger’s absence will affect his quest to break the Bear’s record for wins in a major.

“If Tiger is going to pass my record, I think this is a big year for him in that regard. If he doesn’t play this year, obviously the chore is going to be a little tougher,” said Nicklaus.

With majors at Augusta, Pebble Beach, and St. Andrews–not to mention Whistling Straits–it’s hard to imagine Tiger will miss any of the majors this year. But there hasn’t been a peep out of the Woods’ camp since his late November accident that started this entire unfortunate situation.

Nicklaus says the game will survive Woods absence–and it will. But at this point in the history of professional golf, does it need to worry about “surviving.” Shouldn’t it be prospering to some degree–even without its greatest star?

Did anyone hear anything about the SBS Championship this past weekend? Geoff Ogilvy won again, by the way.

Golf is totally off the radar. Yes, when major season rolls around, the discussion will certainly pick up. But if Tiger isn’t back yet, the PGA Tour has problems.

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