In a week when professional golf captures the Quad-City spotlight, John Deere rolled out a new program with The First Tee designed to help teenagers explore careers in golf course management and the science of agronomy.
On Tuesday, Deere & Co. — the title sponsor of this week's John Deere Classic — announced the launch of a Careers on Course program. The new program, which is beginning with three First Tee chapters, is part of the Moline-based Deere’s $1 million commitment to the national First Tee organization.
Through Careers on Course, participants will learn more about golf course management from professionals working at PGA Tour golf courses. The program is getting a jump-start this summer at these locations: TPC Boston last month; TPC Sugarloaf near Atlanta in July, and Chicago’s Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in August.
“The Careers on Course program builds on the leadership development activities already taking place in The First Tee while providing participants with the opportunity to better understand the business of golf course maintenance,” said James Field, president of John Deere’s Worldwide Agriculture and Turf Division.
Deere, a major manufacturer of golf course maintenance and turf care equipment, announced in February that it would contribute $1 million over five years to First Tee, a nonprofit youth organization that uses golf as a platform to teach life and leadership skills to youth.
Deere spokesman Ken Golden said while First Tee introduces participants to all aspects of the game, Careers On Course will provide a next step in career exploration.
"This is not only an indication of our citizenship but of our commitment to the industry," he said. "We are helping to develop the next generation of people who will run golf courses."
First Tee participants will gain first-hand knowledge of what is required to present a well-manicured, environmentally safe and playable course as well as be introduced to club operations. The curriculum, which is expected to expand to other courses in the future, was developed in conjunction with the PGA Tour.
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"What they are going to learn is it's hard work to maintain a course at a championship level," Golden said.
First Tee CEO Joe Louis Barrow Jr. said the program helps build confidence in academics and social settings for its participants through golf.
"We believe Careers on Course will help keep young people engaged and inspire interest in the scientific, technological and business aspects of a golf course management career,” he said.
Two participants from each of the three chapters also will be allowed to shadow a golf superintendent ahead of an official PGA Tour event, including the Deutsche Bank Championship in August, the BMW Championship in September and the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola in September. Next summer, select participants will be invited to Deere & Co.’s World Headquarters in Moline and TPC Deere Run in Silvis to learn about business operations and career opportunities.
With Deere as the official golf course equipment supplier to the PGA Tour and now to the 2015 Solheim Cup, Golden said, "There is a very strong business aspect to why we sponsor the John Deere Classic and are so involved in golf. But we also have the citizenship aspect, and these two go together so well."