SILVIS — Some of the biggest names in golf are among the 156 pros playing this weekend at the John Deere Classic.
However, the “must follow” for every fan is instead a local blogger and Instagram personality hoping to tee up the best food and drink stops for this weekend’s visitors to TPC Deere Run.
In a first-time social media partnership with the JDC, @anniesqceats is providing a map to the “Gotta Have” menu items from concessionaires at the 51st annual local PGA Tour stop.
The first round of competition teed off Thursday morning. The final round of the four-day, 72-hole, $7.1 million tournament is Sunday.
“She’s just great,” JDC assistant tournament director Ashley Hansen said pointing to one @anniesqceats post featuring highlights from the recent Food Truck Fight charity fundraiser in Bettendorf.
“She’s going to be a really fun add this year for us from a social standpoint.”
For JDC fans not yet on Instagram, though, Ms. Hansen provided a preview of the @anniesqceats checklist to Quad Cities Regional Business Journal readers.
“First, she’s going to come to the ‘Cocktails on the Course’ event Saturday that we have at the (hole No.) 17 Chalets and try all the cocktails and the food there,” Ms. Hansen said.
Any JDC fan is welcome to join @anniesqceats at the new special event, too, but capacity is limited for the $200 per person party.
The air-conditioned Chalets open to “Cocktails on the Course” ticket holders at noon. Special signature cocktail tastings and Hors d’oeuvres are served from 2-5 p.m. during the nationally televised portion of the JDC on CBS.
All attendees receive a custom JDC 14-ounce YETI mug, grounds access for all of Round 3 Saturday and free VIP parking. Tickets are available here while they last. The event is a fundraiser for the Birdies for Charity bonus fund benefitting nearly 500 local charities.
“We’re also giving her a checklist of items to have on the course this weekend,” Ms. Hansen said. “Like you ‘gotta have’ a pork chop sandwich. ‘Gotta have’ a Cherry Ace from Whitey’s. ‘Gotta have’ some Milltown Coffee. ‘Gotta have’ a JDC cookie from Cookies & Dreams.”
All four of those items are local treats familiar to Quad Citians, Ms. Hansen said, but they rank as “Gotta have’s” for all visitors to the area, whether a JDC returner or tournament newcomer.
“The pork chop sandwich has been such a long-standing fixture of our tournament,” she said about the locally produced delicacy. “’Pork Chop Hill’ where they grill them on course is legendary on the PGA Tour. It smells so good. Nobody else on the PGA Tour sells this many pork chops.”
Local ice cream producer Whitey’s also is back at the JDC for the 48th time serving up frozen treats. Included is a special JDC flavor.
“It’s SOOOO good,” Ms. Hansen enthused. “It’s like a Sprite but in ice cream form. It’s Lime Sherbet mixed with lemon custards — so we’ve also got the JDC colors, yellow and green, and it’s really light and summery.
“We actually had an opportunity last spring to go to their factory and help make the flavors. So, (retiring tournament director) Clair (Peterson) got to fill a bucket of ice cream. It was really fun. We have a really cool reel on Instagram of the whole series.”
However, when asked which flavor is better – the special JDC ice cream or the old tournament favorite Cherry Ace – Ms. Hansen demurred by suggesting, “Why not have them both?”
Laughing at her delicious – and politically correct — answer, she explained, “The Cherry Ace and I go way back — so it’s hard for me to break that relationship. You cannot have a John Deere Classic and not have a Cherry Ace — but I feel really passionate about the JDC flavor, too. There’s brand loyalty there, you know?”
Whitey’s also is a Kid’s Club partner, which means the ice cream maker donated coupons for the goodie bags handed out Wednesday during Youth Day festivities, including a clinic hosted by PGA pros. The coupons were for kids to get a free ice cream cone on their next visit to a Whitey’s store.
“Whitey’s has been a phenomenal partner for a number of years,” Ms. Hansen said.
“They do so many things — they just had the ‘Cones for Bethany’ (charity fundraiser) a couple weeks ago, and they do a bonus fund giving day for us for our flavor that we have with them, too. Last year they donated the Sergeant Camo flavor for the military appreciation, so they just always find a way to help out. We’ve been really fortunate to have them in our community.”
Adding to the calories for the galleries this weekend is Cookies & Dreams, which joined the JDC team at last summer’s tournament.
“We had a really fun collaboration where we did a custom cookie, so they wanted to do that again this year,” Ms. Hansen said.
“So, they’re doing a box that they’re shipping nationwide this week that has a featured JDC cookie and they’ve got a couple gals walking around the course this week with boxes of cookies that they’re just giving out.
“They’ve really increased the sponsorship on their end. Like Tuesday night, they did cookies at the pairings party for everybody. So, they’re just doing some really fun things and this is a really great opportunity for them to get their brand out there.”
Ms. Hansen said the special JDC concoction is a green and yellow sprinkled cookie.
“I have tried it and I love all their cookies,” she added. “They have a new one, though, I have to try called ‘I Dream of Arnie,’ which is a spin on the Arnold Palmer Half-and-Half Lemonade and Tea. That sounds so good.”
Milltown Coffee is the newest addition to the JDC menu. The local shop is providing free coffee every morning for the JDC’s army of behind-the-scenes volunteers.
“That’s exactly what our volunteers are looking for as soon as they hop off the bus in the morning,” Ms. Hansen said. “The volunteers do so much for us, it’s the least that we can do is line up some good coffee for them and keep them caffeinated for their long days, and Milltown is perfect for that.”
Two other stops Ms. Hansen said fans and @anniesqceats will want to make are for what’s called “The Cone of Fries” at the 16th hole – as well as finding an adult beverage on course from one of the tourney’s partners, Michelob Ultra or Busch Light.
“My new favorite thing is (national concessionaire) Spectrum serves this ‘Cone of French Fries,’” Ms. Hansen said with a laugh. “Micaela Booth, our Birdies for Charity Director, and I have looked forward to that all year. It’s a perfect summer treat – nice and light – but the only place you can get them is on the 16th hole.”
Spectrum also delivers a wide variety of delicious items deserving of high marks, Ms. Hansen added.
“They’ve been a great partner and they’re always coming to us with new fun ideas for menus and items that we can serve at the hospitality venues to really make it feel like an upscale experience,” she said. “They do a great job and we’re super lucky to have them. They just know this world so well — so they make it a lot of fun and super easy for us because they know what they’re doing — they’re just absolute pros.”