JDC Youth Day: A time to ‘grow the game’ for future generations

Young golf fans attend a Youth Day clinic on Wednesday, July 3, at TPC Deere Run in Silvis as part of the John Deere Classic festivities. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

The day before official golf play began at John Deere Classic was a time for young people.

Hundreds of the young golf fans were at TPC Deere Run on Wednesday, July 3, for Youth Day events sponsored by First Tee of the Quad Cities. The day included a Youth Day clinic with two PGA Tour golf pros, a chance to meet NBA basketball player Keegan Murray, a chance to get a lot of free goodies and a chance to better appreciate the game of golf.

“This is to make sure we are growing the game,” JDC Tournament Director Andrew Lehman said during the start of the clinic held at the Silvis course’s driving range.

That clinic, which attracted hundreds of youngsters and their parents, featured PGA pros Wesley Bryan and Harry Higgs.

The two golf pros spent much of the clinic giving the kids a few golf pointers, hitting some balls at hay bales out on the during range, and telling their own stories of how they got involved with the sport when they were youngsters.

For instance, Mr. Bryan said he “fell in love with the game” when he was 7 years old. “I got to go out and play golf with my friends,” he added.

He also joked with the children, asking if they knew what a “hook” and a “slice” were in the golf world.

“Those two are my specialty shots. … Harry (Higgs) will hit the good shots and I will hit the bad shots today,” he added.

Seeing the golf pros in action – and even hearing them crack a few jokes – were some of the main attractions for many of the parents at Youth Day. Several parents said they wanted to bring their kids to the golf course to get them inspired to play and appreciate the game.

“My son is just getting interested in golf right now. … I want him to see the golfers in person and not just on T.V.,” said Kyle Foster of Normal, Illinois, who was on hand with his son Hudson, 10.

Duane and Torri Price of Sheffield, Illinois, had a similar reason for attending Wednesday’s activities. They were at the golf course with their 6-year-old daughter Daelyn. 

“She’s just getting into golf and they have facilities here that are second to none. … Golf has meant the world to me,” said Mr. Price.

Daelyn added that she enjoys going to golf courses with her dad, “especially when he drives real fast (in the golf cart.)”

Also, Jay Becker of Sumner, Iowa, had his two young sons – Jack, 8, and Ted, 5 – at the golf course to help them develop a love for the game.

“This is just an awesome place. … We’re just big golf fans and we had to see this,” Mr. Becker said.

In addition to families from Iowa and Illinois, the day’s events attracted people from across the country. Barbara Metzdroff of Windsor, Colorado, was at TPC Deere Run with her daughter, Alyson, 10. This was part of their vacation.

“We saw this on T.V. last year and had to give it a try. This is the middle of our vacation, and it’s the most important day of our vacation,” said Ms. Metzdroff.

Many of the young people at Wednesday’s events also said they enjoyed meeting the golf pros and getting a few golfing tips.

However, many also said they enjoyed getting several free gifts and ice cream. The day started out with the kids getting Youth Day baggies filled with gifts, such as a First Tee-Quad Cities hat and black marker for getting autographs.

They also were treated to free and a unique flavor of ice cream. That ice cream, made by Whitey’s and with sweetcorn, was called Awww Shucks, and handed out to the children at the Fan Zone tent. In all, 1,000 free five-ounce containers of Awww Shucks – the equivalent of about 33 gallons – were handed out to young people and others Wednesday.

Alex Hoeg, 7, of Davenport, was one of the children who got the free ice cream and seemed to enjoy the treat.

“It’s good. There’s a corn taste, but mostly vanilla,” he said.

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