The John Deere Classic has a long-standing relationship with the military in the Quad-Cities, as does the PGA Tour nationwide.
This year, that bond has expanded exponentially and allows more golf fans with military connections an opportunity to enjoy the JDC at the new Military Outpost at TPC Deere Run.
Thanks to Ray’z Barber Shop and Lowe’s, the JDC is offering four days of upgraded golf viewing at Deere Run for active military, those with CAC identification and veterans.
In the past, one day had been set aside for special viewing on the 15th green to go along with free entry onto the grounds all week.
A new double-decker suite has been added to the grounds and will serve as the host site to military personnel wanting to check out some golf action from one of the best vantage points on the property. It is located on top of the hill between the 18th tee box and the parking lot, just south of the practice facility.
“For the guys, this means a whole lot for them,” said Shane Kern, Outreach Technician for the Quad Cities Veterans Center in East Moline. “This gives them an opportunity to get out of the house and have something to do.
“When guys struggle with PTSD, they can clam up and it’s like being in a holding cell and they can get down,” he said. “Giving them a chance to get out in the community brings that feeling away. It gives them a purpose to be out in the community and gives them a reassurance they are wanted.”
A chance to do something for those who deserve it was the impetus behind the project, said Chris Ontiveros, owner of Ray’z Barber Shop’s six Quad-Cities locations.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in suites at many different sporting events around the country and never felt like I deserved it,” said Ontiveros. “I’ve always been grateful and wondered why, and it’s always been great.
“When we do this thing at the golf course and see active and retired military guys, they really do deserve to be in the suite,” he said.
With Lowe’s continued support, that is happening in a big way at the Quad-Cities’ 48th annual PGA Tour stop.
Along with outdoor viewing from an open deck, military personnel also will have access to the air-conditioned main area that features restroom facilities and multiple TVs to watch action everywhere on the course. Light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks will be served in the Military Outpost venue compliments of RIA Federal Credit Union.
“All of us in the Quad-Cities know what the Rock Island Arsenal means to the community as a whole,” said Daniel Clayton, JDC sales manager. “This is my fourth tournament and we felt like we were missing a group of individuals that we needed to say thank you to.
“At the same time, you have to have the ability to expand a program like this; it costs money,” he said. “We were very fortunate that Chris Ontiveros and Ray’z Barber Shop was open to this idea and appreciative that Lowe’s was able to say, ‘Yeah, we want to help expand this as well and we don’t mind partnering with another business.’
“We felt this was a way to reach out to the veterans in the Quad-Cities and surrounding areas and get them included as well,” Clayton said.
The venue overlooks the east end of the Deere run property. From either the top deck or inside, you can see action on the 15th fairway, the 17th fairway and green and the 18th tee and fairway.
“That vantage point is spectacular,” said JDC tournament director Clair Peterson.
So is the opportunity.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” said Ontiveros of offering the venue. “Ray’z serves a lot of veterans throughout the community, and we just wanted to give back.”