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JOHNSTON ON GOLF: Deere Run staff keeping JDC alive despite cancellation
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JOHNSTON ON GOLF: Deere Run staff keeping JDC alive despite cancellation

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There will be tournament play at TPC Deere Run this week.

The pin placements will be set up as they would be every year for the John Deere Classic.

However, none of that action will revolve around the PGA Tour that was scheduled to be in town this week.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the havoc that it has wreaked on the state as well as the country, things happening in 2020 do not look like they have every other year at this time.

And that has resulted in the 50th anniversary of what had been the annual PGA Tour stop in the Quad-Cities since 1971 to be shelved for a year.

“Obviously, it is disappointing not having the event,” said Kevin Dean, second year TPC Deere Run head golf professional. “But at the end of the day, I think it is the right call.”

Another correct call has the staff at Deere Run doing what it can to make the best of a difficult situation during “tournament week” at the Tour-owned facility in Silvis.

And while it may not be business as usual at Deere Run for the next seven days, the staff there is doing its best to give the facility a tournament-week feel, help the golf lovers of the area have a little fun and also give back to the tournament during a year in which it might take a hit in terms of charitable donations that are the life blood of the Quad-Cities' major sporting event.

That is why Dean and Deere Run general manager Todd Hajduk have come up with the facility celebrating “JDC Tribute Week.”

“We want to celebrate the week,” Dean said. “It's an important week not only for the community at large, but it's also important for the staff, too.”

The week gets off to a busy start. On Monday and Tuesday, nearly 180 young golfers are being hosted in the TPC Deere Run Junior — an event organized by the Iowa PGA Section. The event had annually been held earlier in the year under the John Deere Classic banner, but also underwent changes this year because of the pandemic.

Dean said this is one of the larger fields for the event.

Fun for the paying public then kicks in on Thursday. That is when the set up of the course will mirror that of the JDC for four days. Pin placements will be cut where they normally are for the four days of the tournament. Back tournament tees will also be in the same locations.

“It's been a positive response so far,” said Dean, noting that will give the paying public a new appreciation for the hole locations that Tour players have to deal with.

“People are excited to play the pins that they wouldn't normally see during the day-to-day operations,” admitted Dean. “They are a bit more difficult and tucked behind bunkers and so forth. It gives the guests playing that week a chance to experience shots that the Tour players face on a weekly basis.”

Golfers playing this week will also have a number of ways to be involved in the JDC's Birdies For Charity program.

It starts with a portion of each golfer's green fees being donated to the Birdies For Charity Bonus Fund.

“We wanted to create a bit of a give back to the Birdies For Charity program,” Dean said. “Obviously, that's taken a little bit of a hit. We're doing what we can to support that and keep the spirit of the tourney alive.”

One of the program's features is to guess the number of birdies the pros make during tourney week from the Wednesday pro-am through Sunday. This week, those playing the PGA Tour-owned facility will get to guess the number of birdies and eagles scored from Thursday through Sunday. The player with the closest guess will win a $50 TPC Deere Run gift card and some JDC swag.

The first 250 players will receive a free copy of "The Grunt Dome" book that offers a light-hearted look inside the JDC.

Also on the table are chances to win an official JDC tee marker signed by 2018 champ Michael Kim and a SM8 Vokey wedge stamped with "TPC Deere Run."

While it won't be anything close to business as usual at Deere Run this time of the year, there will be plenty happening in Silvis to keep the aura of the John Deere Classic alive and well to get us all to the 50th anniversary event next July.

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