The 18th green at TPC Deere Run. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
The past two years have taken Paul Grogan to extremes in getting the TPC Deere Run ready to host some of the PGA TOUR’s best.
Near-drought conditions ruled the John Deere Classic a year ago, part of a July that produced 22 days of temperatures over 90 degrees. For this year’s edition, Grogan’s crews spent five days rebuilding washed-out bunkers after storms that sent the Rock River to flood stage for the third time in 2013.
“Like a lot of guys this year, it’s been a struggle,” said Grogan, in his eighth year as TPC Deere Run’s director of golf course maintenance. “It should play good, but a little bit on the soft side.
“Most of the players are not that unrealistic to know that if it’s been raining for days on end, we’re not going to have it fast and firm.”
He quickly added that fast and firm does remain a possibility -- if Deere Run can somehow avoid the line of thunderstorms forecast to move through Tuesday evening.
Nearly 30 inches of rain has fallen on the Quad Cities area this year, already exceeding the area’s total for all of 2012. Most fell in April and early May, prompting record floods on the Rock River and near-record levels on the Mississippi River, where it takes in the Rock's waters just south of the area.
Deere Run is set well above the Rock, offering fabulous overlooks in places but untouched by floodwaters.
“We don’t have any holes even affected by the river,” Grogan said. “It never got to the point where it affected the golf course, which is good. There’s nothing worse than a flooded golf course.”
Grogan, though, was faced with the aftermath of storms two weeks ago that dumped more than 4 inches of rain on the course in short order. Crews were left with rebuilding the 80 or so bunkers on the course.
“We spent almost 500 man-hours in the bunkers, putting them back together and getting them to the right depth,” Grogan said. “We moved a lot of sand around; I’m glad I had some kids with strong backs. It got to be a long week.”
Last year’s drought caused Deere Run to lose nearly three dozen trees since last year’s event, though Grogan said none were in strategic locations.
“They were more in the rough areas, some on the fringes,” he added. “It was probably good in a way. We just hate to cut down trees -- but when you get 125,000 people in here for the week, you don’t want any dead trees hanging around.”