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Former tour hopeful Rodney Green named director of golf at Innisbrook Resort in Tampa, Florida

By Tom Spousta, Contributor

Whether struggling to play the pro tours, waiting tables at the Outback Steakhouse or working as a Reebok sales rep, Rodney Green has always managed to find his way.

Rodney Green
Rodney Green brings a lifetime of playing golf to his new job at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.
Rodney Green

So when Green accepted the director of golf position at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, he confidently plotted another course.

Except for one detail: He had been to the Palm Harbor, Fla., property only once (on his interview) and had yet to figure out driving directions.

"Funny thing is, you plug everything into your GPS to find the best way to get here," Green says. "But there's no shortcuts coming down Highway 19. I thought there'd be a road you could take to save some time. It doesn't matter what route you take. There's no shortcut."

Green, 46, hasn't taken any shortcuts in his career, either. He comes to Innisbrook after 12 years at Walt Disney World, where he was the head golf pro and director of instruction for the resort's Magnolia and Palm golf courses.

Green arrives at an important time for Innisbrook, what with Super Bowl XLIII and its surrounding events coming to the area in a few weeks. The popular resort is also gearing up to host its PGA Tour event, the Transitions Championship, at the Copperhead course March 16-22. And Florida's tourist season is about to kick into full swing.

That might seem like a daunting, high-speed lane change heading east on Interstate 4 from Orlando. But Green was used to navigating busy traffic at Disney, which also hosts a PGA Tour event, the Children's Miracle Network Classic, in November.

"I wasn't any different from any other golf professional in the industry. This is my career. Everybody's heard of Innisbrook, everybody knows when a great opportunity like this presents itself," Green says. "I was leaving a great position as well after 12 years. But for me, it's always been a passion for golf and having a great opportunity like this one."

A tradition of Green golf

Green grew up in a golf family in Annapolis, Md., and was quickly taught the value of not taking shortcuts. His father, Skip, and uncle, Al, were once caddies at the United States Naval Academy Golf Club. Both would become golf professionals; Al Green also blazed a trail as the first African-American pro in the mid-Atlantic PGA section and played in five U.S. Opens and several PGA Championships.

Indeed, Eisenhower Golf Course, a county-owned layout near Annapolis, was truly a Green family affair. Uncle Al was the head pro; Skip was his brother's assistant; Uncle Frank was the course superintendent; and Aunt Viola ran the snack bar.

No shortcuts.

"I was reared like that way before Tiger," Green says with a laugh. "I've never known anything but golf. I was picked up on Saturday mornings and taken to the course. I was blessed. I loved it from the beginning."

Green had offers to play basketball at a couple small colleges, but stuck with golf and played on the team at South Carolina State. After college, he worked at several northern courses as an assistant pro and came south during winters to try his hand on the mini tours. Like many aspiring players, he needed to take jobs like waiting tables at Outback Steakhouse in order to survive.

He later became a sales rep at Reebok and worked a territory that included Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and Delaware. But Green missed the day-to-day operations of being a golf pro and signed on with Disney.

Green recalls pondering his move to Orlando 12 years ago and receiving encouragement from his father. Skip Green died shortly thereafter, just before Rodney took the job.

"The things that have happened since then, it's kind of been bittersweet," Green says. "He was with me through the times I was trying to play as a pro, waiting tables, living out of the back of my truck eating hot dogs and beans. Even now, he'd be saying to me, 'if you could get a little better at this son' ... But he's always with me. I know he'd have wanted me to make this move, too."

Tom SpoustaTom Spousta, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tom Spousta keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. He has covered golf and other sports for USA Today and The New York Times. Tom lives on a Donald Ross-designed golf course in Sarasota, Fla.

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