Behind the scenes at the John Deere Classic, it takes a group of nearly 50 volunteers, known as the Grunt Crew, to keep Deere Run looking good.
The crew starts its work months before the tournament begins — setting up nearly 4 miles of fencing, running electrical wiring for countless trailers, and placing 1,500 signs around the grounds.
“They wouldn’t wanna be out there, under a shade tree all day long, holding a quiet paddle. They want more action, they want something going on, they want to be pounding stakes in the ground and stuff like that,” said volunteer Pat Huys.
Once play begins, the group starts work before sunrise. Shortly after 5 a.m., they fill coolers for the golfers at each hole and make sure the valuable tee markers are in place.
Named after an old army term, the Grunt Crew prides itself on doing Deere Run’s heavy lifting and dirty work. Many of the members have decades of experience on the crew, like Stan Leach, who’s been on the job for 41 years.
“One of the biggest problems is that our crew is aging. Like, I’m 78 years old… and we need young volunteers,” said Leach.
All the members, though, say it’s the people they’ve met at the John Deere Classic that keep them coming back year after year, rain or shine.
“It’s a community thing. There’s no doubt the value of the golf tournament to the community, and this is a way we can contribute,” said Huys.