By Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
I just finished working the John Deere Classic for PGA Tour Radio and I came away impressed with the golf course. TPC Deere Run is located in Silvis Illinois, a small town that is part of the Quad Cities. It’s in the midwest, about 2 hours west of Chicago. Moline is the home of Deere and Company and in farm country, but the people and places remind me a lot of home.
I was not expecting that. The flight into Moline, Illinois featured a lot of cornfields. It was flat, but that is not what you get at TPC Deere Run. The course is in the river valley of the Mississippi and Rock River, thus lush and hilly. It looks like a lot of fun to play.
For the PGA players the course was very gettable. Birdies were plentiful and eagles were landing too. That made work fun for the radio, as calling birdies is better than pars. The other cool thing is the tournament produces many first time winners and this year was no exception.
Michael Kim picked up his first PGA Tour victory with a masterful weekend, finishing at -27. It was never in doubt. He also punched his ticket to The OPEN Championship this week at Carnoustie. Talk about life a changing week.
I remember Kim competing in the Porter Cup at Niagara Falls CC as collegiate player from Cal. He was part of the vaunted high school class of 2011 headlined by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. It took Kim a little longer to reach the top of a leaderboard, but no surprise that he made it.
I am always interested in the putting routines of players on the PGA Tour. I consider the type of putter, how they read the greens, and how they grip the putter all part of the routine. I saw something new and interesting this week at the John Deere Classic.
Johnson Wagner, a 3-time winner and good putter (came into the week T20 in strokes gained putting), would look at his line from both sides of the hole and then hand the putter to his caddie. His caddie would then hold the putter up to plumb-bob the line and hand it back to Johnson for the putt.
It’s not unusual to see a player do that, but I haven’t seen a caddie do it without the player doing it too. Caddies help all the time with the line on putts and the speed. That’s part of the gig. I just need to find a caddie.
-Speaking of caddies, it was great to catch up with Buffalo’s Aaron Alpern at the John Deere Classic. He’s looping for Conrad Schindler now. You remember him as Smylie Kaufman’s caddie, and the guy that would wear the Sabres hats on the course.
-The John Deere Classic continues to have the best tee markers on the PGA Tour. Each hole features miniature versions of the tractors and heavy machinery Deere and Co, manufacture. It reminded me of the toys I had in the sandbox as a kid.
-The Porter Cup is this week at Niagara Falls CC in Lewiston. If you haven’t been and consider yourself a golf fan you need to attend. Admission is free and parking is a small donation to the boys scouts. There will be future PGA Tour players in the field for sure, and you’ll be amazed at the quality of play.
-Keep the shootout. One of the greatest things you can take part it is a shootout. They take place to determine team format competitions at local clubs like a member/member of member/guest tournaments. One local club (I won’t name it) eliminated the shootout this year and that seems a mistake to me. The overall champion was determined by 3 day net score while flights were determine by matches. How does that work? Obviously everything had to be holed out because a conceded putt could have big implications. Also, I play match play different than stroke play. Keeping track of both, and whether or not you have a chance would be frustrating.
The shootout is also a great social event as the other competitors can follow along and cheer on the action. Shootouts are great. There is nothing like the pressure and moments for amateur club members. I’m sure everyone had a great time, after all, social interaction is equal to the competition. I just thinking maxing out both is ideal.
-Duster Challenge. I’m going to keep encouraging you to sign up until we’re full for the August 3rd putting competition. Learn more and register at dusterchallenge.com