JDC: 2,300 volunteers help make the tournament a success

A John Deere Classic volunteer stops traffic at a crosswalk on Wednesday, July 3, so golf fans can cross a busy street. This year’s tournament will have more than 2,300 people volunteer to do many jobs at the JDC. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

For many Quad Citians, the John Deere Classic golf tournament is all about bringing great golf, thousands and thousands of visitors and a wealth of tourism dollars to the region.

But for many of the people who run the local PGA tournament every year, the event hinges on one word – volunteers.

It’s volunteers – thousands of them – who help make the tournament a success.

“The John Deere Classic relies so heavily on over 2,300 volunteers who give so much of their time and effort to help with successfully running a PGA Tour event. It is a testament to our volunteers’ generosity that the John Deere Classic was awarded the PGA Tour’s Most Engaged Community award in 2023,” Peter Zucker, the manager of tournament services for the JDC, recently told the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal.

Those volunteers take on a massive number of jobs that saves the JDC thousands of dollars every year and helps create a great, inviting experience for the golfers and fans, Mr. Zucker added.

Some of the many jobs they do include: cleaning up trash, serving as crossing guards to help guests and golfers get safely across roads, delivering water, holding up “Quiet” signs on the TPC Deere Run course while golfers hit shots, driving guests and golfers to destinations, and much more.

One of those volunteers helping out during JDC week is Les Holland of Davenport. He was kept busy driving JDC guests to the course.

“It’s fun and I get to meet a lot of people. The other day, I met a guy from Nashville,” said Mr. Holland, who has been a JDC volunteer for three years.

The Davenport man worked 47 years in the floorcovering business before retiring and now spending some of his free time as a volunteer driver at the Quad Cities golf tournament. He also volunteers his time because of his passion for golf.

“I just love it. … It’s a humbling sport. You can go from (the top) to the bottom just like that,” he said.

While Mr. Holland was driving golfers and guests around, other volunteers also helped make sure they got to the right place. For instance, Linda Roeder of Silvis is a first-time volunteer at JDC this year. On Wednesday, July 3, she was busy giving guests directions from an information tent located near Hole 9 on the course.

Her reason for volunteering centers around helping her husband with volunteering jobs during the week. “My husband is a member of a pickleball group. They decided to volunteer for this, so I came out here to help my husband,” she added.

While Ms. Roeder and Mr. Holland were helping get people to their destinations, many of the other volunteers were on the golf course helping with the multitude of jobs.

Adam Link, a volunteer from Moline, was working as a standard bearer. That is, one of the people who carries, holds and updates a large sign that lets spectators know the scores of golf players in the group.

“I looked up what it took to be a standard bearer out here and said ‘I can do this,’” said Mr. Link, who works in the financial services world for Morgan Stanley.

He has been volunteering at JDC for three years. He said he started volunteering because “I’m at the point in my life that I wanted to do something for others.”

Helping other people during JDC week also means the tough jobs of getting bottles of water to thirsty people and picking up trash all around the Silvis golf course.

One of the volunteers doing that tough work was Lori Gustafson, a middle school teacher from  East Moline. A JDC volunteer for about 25 years, she wore a dark green T-shirt that stated “Grunt Crew” as she picked up trash and pieces of cardboard from near the Veranda Bar at the JDC.

“This is what we do. We collect garbage all day. … It’s really kind of fun,” she added.

Another one of her “Grunt Crew” co-workers , Linda Gerard, was also collecting trash. She has been volunteering at the JDC for some 20 years. On Wednesday morning, she was busy picking up bits of cardboard and trash that was piled up outside a tent near the putting green.

It’s a tough job, but the Moline woman said she enjoys the volunteering

“You look forward to it every year. And every year you can’t wait for it to get over. Then, when it’s over, you look forward to it again next year,” she said.

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