It's the kickoff of a special week in the Quad-Cities, as professional golfers flock to Silvis to compete in a PGA Tour classic.
The 49th John Deere Classic, a PGA Tour professional golf tournament, is played at TPC Deere Run, Thursday, July 11, through Sunday, July 14. Golfers from around the world will compete for a $6 million purse.
As the festivities kicked off Monday, JDC Volunteer Chairman Sean McGuire said it's a great time to be in the Quad-Cities.
"It's a great event. We have 156 of the greatest golfers in the world coming to join us this week," McGuire said. "We raise a lot of money for charity ... there's just a lot of things to see and do."
As the pro-am kicks off the JDC week, here are five things to know about the PGA Tour tournament.
The tournament isn't just about the golf; the Charity Spotlight signs between the clubhouse and the ninth hole showcase organizations spectators can donate to, including the Scott County Family YMCA, River Bend Foodbank and the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. "There are numbers you can text to chip in ... you can donate directly to over 40 charities on that list," McGuire said.
In addition, the JDC also runs Birdies for Charity. Participants can pledge a flat donation or $0.01 per birdie toward the charity of their choice. "It's a way to give money to charities. The charities get 100 percent of every dollar pledged ... and then in October, we'll announce a matching grant," McGuire said. There's also a contest; guess the correct amount of birdies, and you'll have a chance to win a two-year lease on a 2018 Lexus NX.
Another event Wednesday will give every charity a bonus check. The Charity Concert, held at the Rust Belt in East Moline, will feature country artist Dustin Lynch. Proceeds benefit the Bonus Fund, giving every participating charity an additional 5-10% bonus over what they raised during the week.
Plenty for kids to do
Today, Tuesday, July 9, is Youth Day, and kids have chances to have fun and learn about golf. At 9 a.m., the Youth Family Zone opens near the ninth tee box; the first 750 child visitors get a free hat, Chick-Fil-A lunch on the course and a bobblehead of last year's champ, Michael Kim.
"They can walk the golf course, get autographs from pros," McGuire said. At 2 p.m., Viktor Haviland and Ricky Barnes will give a free clinic. "Then we'll let them break some glass, let the pros break some glass and show off their skills. It's a really good opportunity to let the little kids get up close to the pros."
Even after Youth Day, there's still plenty for kids to do at the JDC. Kids are admitted free with a paid adult, and the Family Zone is open all week with interactive games, putting competitions and a golf simulator to test themselves.
"Other than that, it's just a great chance to come to see the best players in the world show off their stuff."
Food, drink and amenities
"We always have pork chops in the Quad-Cities," McGuire said of the concessions for the JDC. "So Pork Chop Hill, which is from the old Oakwood days, is located between the 16th green and the 17th tee. They'll take care of your food and drink, any way you need to."
It's going to be hot out there and the JDC also has a few features to make sure people stay cool. Returning from last year, the cooling benches are placed between the clubhouse and the satellite pro shop near the putting green and the Oasis food tent. In addition, the Family Zone is fully air-conditioned, and there are water refill stations near the clubhouse as well.
Young talent plays for $6 million
With 156 golfers in the mix and the JDC being the last stop for some of them before next week's British Open in Ireland, there are quite a few names to watch. Among them is Matthew Wolff, an NCAA All-American at Oklahoma State University who just won his first PGA Tour victory Sunday at the 3M Open.
Others include Wolff's teammate at Oklahoma State, Viktor Hovland, South Korean Choi Ho-Sung, last year's champion Michael Kim, previous champions Brian Harman and Ryan Moore as well as veteran Ricky Barnes. McGuire says there are a lot of up-and-coming young players you'll hear about in the future.
There's also a mechanism to help British Open-eligible golfers get to the Open quickly. Right after play ends Sunday, a special charter at the Quad-Cities International Airport will take golfers and some guests to Ireland, with proceeds going to Birdies for Charity as well.
A Quad-Cities tradition
With more than 2,100 volunteers, the JDC is truly a community effort for the Quad-Cities.
"We're a small community, so for us to even be able to host one of the few PGA Tour events is really a special thing," McGuire said of the tournament. "The key to our success is our volunteers; we have so many volunteers with 20, 30, 40 years of experience that have a passion for the golf tournament, and they've got the passionate people with the Birdies for Charity fund as well.
"It's the community support and our volunteer base ... that's really the key to our success."