Anticipation Builds for the John Deere Classic

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Pro News

Anticipation Builds for the PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic, July 4-7

Just as defending champion Sepp Straka and two-time John Deere Classic winner Jordan Spieth make golf look easier than it really is, the same could be said about how smoothly organizers plan for and manage the Quad Cities’ signature professional sporting event.

While he’s quick to credit the many volunteers and title sponsor Deere and Co. for their unwavering support, Tournament Director Andrew Lehman should also take a bow, now in his second year at the helm. Knowing him as well as I do, he isn’t likely to do so. Each year, Lehman and a handful of JDC team members make magic happen again and again.

“Every event has to evolve and not fall behind. So, for us, it’s always about the spectator experience, making sure that we’re doing our best to provide new experiences each and every year,” Lehman told me during our time together this week before the par-71 TPC Deere Run will be hosting the PGA TOUR as it has for the last 24 years.

John Deere Classic

Music and Magic at the John Deere Classic

Last year, the tournament was met with record weekend crowds, aided by post-round performances by Darius Rucker on Saturday and Blake Shelton on Sunday after play concluded. I vividly recall sharing a laugh with Straka about his second TOUR victory being the opening act for Shelton.

Next weekend, Counting Crows will perform along the 18th fairway once the golfers complete moving day, and on championship Sunday, Grammy Award-winning country star Lainey Wilson will be in concert.

“We’re calling it Music and Magic, an effort to bring in golf and non-golf fans into a common mission to provide an economic impact and drive money to charity,” Lehman added.

john deere classic

Last year, the smallest tournament per capita on TOUR donated a record $14.1 million.  That’s more than $173 million mark since the tournament’s inception.

“We can’t ever take it for granted; it is our largest success story, and to have a title sponsor like John Deere, who is so philanthropic and civic-minded, to have a community that understands the value and impact that our local and regional non-profits have on this community, it’s over $40 per man, woman, and child in a 380,000 person marketplace. So it’s simply amazing,” Lehman said.

World No. 8 Patrick Cantlay, Straka, and Spieth, a three-time major winner, highlight a quality field of golfers taking aim at the $8 million prize purse, July 4-7.

“Certainly, every event wants to have the top 10 guys in the world, and there’s no shortage of playing opportunities, especially now with the signature events. It’s been so rewarding for us to have so many dramatic finishes.  We’ve had so many first-time winners,” Lehman added.  “We think back, we’ve had conversations with Jordan for nine years, healthy and respectful conversations. We know his fond feelings towards this event.  He’s told us that over and over again, but to finally get it across the finish line after his historic 2015 season, the community is jazzed up about welcoming him back here. We’re really proud of the field we’ve got right now, highlighted by Cantlay and Sepp. We’ve got a bunch of top 50 guys here; It’s just going to be a fun week.”

You might want to follow Greenfield, Iowa’s Bradley Gebbie, during the Monday pro-am. Who’s that, you might ask? He’s a high school player whose family lost their home along with all of his golf equipment when a massive tornado swept through on May 21st.  Deere and Co. extended him an invitation to come play here.

If you’ve never been to the Quad Cities for professional golf, it is time well spent.  From Deere & Co. equipment displays and demonstrations to regional ice cream maker Whitey’s introducing a delicious lime green sherbert named in honor of the John Deere Classic.   This year, on Wednesday’s Youth Day, Deere and Co. will provide a thousand free scoops of a new sweet corn-flavored variety, celebrating the importance of farmers in our lives.

During next Friday’s second round, we’ve been told that John Deere and the USO will unveil a two-year partnership designed to support active duty military personnel and veterans learn about career opportunities at Deere and Co.; career mentorship by Deere employees to military service members and military spouses, and Deere hosting outings and cookouts for military personnel.

Photos courtesy of John Deere Classic


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">George McNeilly</a>

George McNeilly

George McNeilly is an award-winning multimedia broadcaster, producer and writer with a journalism background that has spanned the globe from four Olympics, 17 Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals, Major College Football, Basketball and Professional Golf. A former Senior ESPN executive, George teaches Sports Business at Full Sail University and is managing partner of McNeilly Communications.