TPC Deere Run in Silvis: A big deal in the Quad Cities
SILVIS, Ill. -- Western Illinois is tractor country. If there's not a John Deere tractor or mower on the farm, there's one in the garage. And there are several in the maintenance shed at the Tournament Players Club in the tiny town of Silvis squeezed right between the Rock and Mississippi Rivers. There better be since the PGA Tour plays the John Deere Classic on this golf course every summer.
Are you getting the theme here?
John Deere plays a big part in the lives of people living along this section of the Illinois-Iowa border known as the Quad Cities. Although Deere was from Vermont, the steel plow he invented is closely linked to the development and settlement of much of the Midwest. In fact, the company's headquarters is in Moline, Illinois, just a few miles from Silvis. So, in 2000 when the PGA Tour opened one of its premiere TPC courses in this part of America's heartland and linked it closely with the John Deere Company, it became a very big deal.
TPC Deere Run is a majestic golf course. The views and the vistas are inspiring throughout the 386 acres of land filled with ravines, bluffs, water and stately old trees. The former horse farm is now 7,183 yards of tight fairways dotted with 70 bunkers. There are intimidating blind shots and tricky doglegs and slippery, but not overly undulated, greens.
There is a dramatic roll to the land at Deere Run and it all happens between mature oak, beech and sycamore trees. The Rock River can be seen from nine holes and there's a sense of disappearing into the landscape as you move through the course.
D.A, Weibring, a Tour veteran and Illinois native, designed Deere Run and approached it with the philosophy of the old masters of architecture. Weibring worked with the property he had, not against it, and changed very little. He believes in the traditional style and in the art of design that allows the natural pitch and roll of the land to determine the golf holes. "It has all the things you'd like to have in a golf course, " Weibring told reporters who came to see the course for the first time. "It turned out just like I wanted it to."
TPC Deere Run: How to play it
TPC Deere Run is not set-up to be a target golf course. The layout is about picking the right shot for the circumstance and being creative with the short game.
The opening hole is tougher than it looks. At 359 yards from the middle tees, one might consider it a birdie hole. But standing on the tee box you realize it moves uphill and doglegs left. Uphill and left? Not necessarily made for the average golfer who needs a little roll on the drive and a little room to the right for that slice. The first hole tells you how crucial it is to negotiate your way through this layout to allow for a chance at a decent number on the card.
The most memorable holes are the fourth, the 14th and the 16th. The 4th, a 450-yard par-4, has a large oak tree sitting in the middle of the fairway forcing the golfer to choose the route he'll take. Plus, it's tight. There's just 22 yards of fairway on the right, and 32 yards on the left. The right side gives you a shorter approach to the green.
The 14th is named John Deere and is a drivable (for some of us) par 4. It measures out at 358 yards from the back tees, but it's all down hill. Beware though, if you're going for it, be advised the green is elevated making a well struck drive require an extra amount of giddy-up to get on the putting surface.
The 16th is one of the prettiest holes on the course. It's a short par 3 sitting next to the water. The H-2-0 doesn't come into play but it adds to the serene setting.
Actually, the entire stretch of holes from the 15th through the finish is what you'll take with you when you leave. It's set-up with a stadium course feel like many other TPC designs. But this time Weibring did it with very little earth moving.
The John Deere Classic
This PGA Tour stop brings in fans from as far away as Chicago. But its biggest draw is from the Quad Cities area itself. It's a wonderful event for a part of the Midwest that has no other major professional sporting teams or events.
The best thing about this Tour stop is that is shows us all how the professionals work their way around this dramatic golf course. And then we can go out and test our own games on it. What's the word used so often about golf? Humbling? Yep, that's it.
August 5, 2003