Professional golfers aren’t the only ones chipping in this week around TPC Deere Run.
More than 1,700 volunteers, a majority of whom traveled here from 18 U.S. states, are helping out in various capacities during the annual run of the John Deere Classic.
But no one ventured as far as Moline native Kyle Bohman. The 32-year-old recently flew home from Rome, Italy, where he has lived for the past 4½ years.
“People think I’m crazy,” said Bohman, who works for a housing rental agency in the Italian capital. “This community needs this event, and the event needs volunteers, so it’s kind of my way of giving back.”
His duties as a walking scorekeeper began about 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning at the 10th tee. The expatriate and fluent Italian speaker will make that trek around the course at least three more times before the eventual champion hoists the 35-pound bronze deer trophy on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Kyle's mother, Debbie Bohman, commenced her 30th year as a volunteer on Thursday by welcoming spectators and scanning tickets at the front entry gate.
She introduced her son to the event in the late 1990s, when the competition, then called the Quad-City Classic, was held at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley. (The 47-year-old tournament moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000.)
“He came out with me a lot of times, and they put him to work,” said Debbie, a 64-year-old exercise physiologist at UnityPoint Trinity in Rock Island.
Like mother, like son
As she readied radios for walking scorekeepers on Wednesday, longtime volunteer Paula Burnett reminisced about Kyle's 16 years of volunteering and the Bohmans’ contributions as a whole.
”We can count on him (Kyle) to do anything we need or want, and we love that about him,” said Burnett, a 37-year veteran, who formerly co-chaired the scoring committee. “He got that from his mom; anything we ask of Debbie, she’ll do."
In 2002, Kyle brought home the outstanding volunteer of the year award.
"A lot of the volunteers couldn't handle the heat," he recalled, "so I was walking two rounds a day to substitute in for them."
Debbie said she will miss working inside the ropes this year as a walking scorekeeper, which she described as an "important job" that needs to be taken seriously.
"It's a change of pace, but I love volunteering for this tournament," she said. "Sometimes, we get put down because we’re not a Chicago, we're not a Phoenix, but we offer a lot to the golfers, both the more prominent golfers and the little-known ones.
"We treat them the same, and I think that's what sets us apart from the bigger tournaments."
Since moving 15 years ago to Charlotte, North Carolina, Burnett, who doubles as the volunteer coordinator at the Wells Fargo Championship in the Tar Heel State, has not missed a John Deere Classic.
This is not the only tournament on Kyle's resume either.
Before moving to Europe, he lived in Boston, where he volunteered numerous times at the Deutsche Bank Championship, which became the Dell Technologies Championship this year. He also has worked the Wells Fargo Championship.
'This is home'
Among other things, Kyle and Debbie enjoy being part of the behind-the-scenes excitement, camaraderie and logistics that go into a PGA Tour event.
Apart from this week, however, they don't follow the pros that closely or regularly work on their swings.
"We are both very well versed in the rules, but neither of us play all that often," Kyle said.
That being said, he still may try to squeeze in a round of nine holes with his dad, Mark, this trip.
Following a day on the course, the mother-son duo said they count on one another for a good story or two at the family dinner table.
Between these two, there's no shortage of side-splitting memories to recount, and once they start, it’s tough for them to stop.
Take the time Kyle dropped an electronic scoring device into the depths of a port-a-potty on the second hole or the moment Debbie spotted a caddy urinating in the bushes.
For the record, Kyle rescued that soiled device, rinsed it off, covered it with a plastic bag and continued using it for the rest of that round. And when the caddy apologized for his actions, Debbie told him she was not "impressed," which she said, sparked a lot of laughter.
Following this weekend, Kyle will return to Rome with new experiences under his belt that he can share with his community abroad.
"It's like a big family reunion every time I go," he said. "Even though I don't live here anymore, this is home."