Each year, hundreds of John Deere employees volunteer at the John Deere Classic. They represent a fifth of the 2,000+ tournament volunteers and make a significant contribution each year toward Deere’s goal of 1 million volunteer hours by 2022.
The Deere volunteers’ help on the course and off — from marshals to scorers to cart drivers — is a big part of what makes the Classic one of the tour favorites among players and fans.
Many of the volunteers — both current and retired Deere employees — come back year after year, and we asked a few to share their experiences.
Communications Manager (ret.), Corporate Communications – Moline, Illinois
I got started because someone asked me! Sounds simple, but that’s traditionally one of the best ways to recruit volunteers. I think this will be my sixth year.
I was supporting Corporate Citizenship, and the whole team marshaled one day. My job was to spot drives in the fairway, as well as to hold up a “Quiet” sign for the gallery. It was a fun team-building experience, and I got to see the tournament up close. For the past four years, I’ve been volunteering with co-workers at the Family Zone, but I’ll be going back to marshaling this year.
My favorite part of volunteering at the Classic is interacting with the kids. I think it’s great when parents bring their kids to the tournament and expose them to the game. At the Family Zone, there’s a small putting green, and my favorite memories — this has happened more than once — are helping the little ones get aligned to the hole, showing them how to grip the putter, how to strike the ball, and then watching them putt the ball right into the hole. The looks on their faces are priceless!
Accounts Manager (ret.), John Deere Rental Marketing – Moline, Illinois
I started working at John Deere in 1972, right out of high school, and my husband and I have been going to the John Deere Classic from the very beginning. We saw Tiger Woods when he played at the Oakwood Country Club in 1996. We took our children there. We just loved the whole atmosphere. And we’re very community-minded, so when we saw the tournament was looking for help, we volunteered. Our first year was when the tournament moved to TPC in 2000.
My husband really enjoys meeting the players and their caddies and he likes driving a luxury car to shuttle them around. Over all the years, though, his favorite memory of volunteering is working with the Family Zone crew and teaching young children how to golf.
I so enjoy the Family Zone, too. Love it! Love it! Love it! Seeing these young kids come in and have such an interest in golf is priceless. On top of that, they get over-the-moon excited about our John Deere products. Seeing those big smiles and their faces light up when they win a John Deere hat absolutely makes my day!
But my favorite Classic memory is of watching Jordan Spieth in 2013, when he got in on a sponsor’s exemption and then won the tournament in a five-man playoff.
Module Leader, John Deere Seeding Group – Moline, Illinois
This will be my sixth year volunteering in the Family Zone at the John Deere Classic. I enjoy the Family Zone and I always look forward to the improvements and additions that are made each year.
I got started when I received an email from the Classic. They were looking for volunteers to help in the Family Zone, so I talked about it with my brother Josh. He and I signed up with a couple colleagues from Deere, Adam Kaufman and Jacob Leib. We’ve all had very positive experiences volunteering, and that keeps us coming back year after year. We’ve even recruited others, including my younger brother Shane.
Our team leader has also made volunteering fun, and we all work well together. We’ve all received full support from our managers at Deere, who promote volunteerism and being part of the John Deere Classic.
I really enjoy helping the children play the games — I like playing them myself — but my favorite memory from volunteering at the Classic was meeting the men who restored the Waterloo Boy tractor that was on display in the Family Zone. They paid amazing attention to detail in their restoration of that historic tractor. I remember how well it looked on display.
General Supervisor, John Deere Waterloo Works (TCAO) – Waterloo, Iowa
I had helped with some local John Deere tournaments and had a lot of fun, so when I received an email asking for volunteers at the John Deere Classic, I signed up. It was a chance to go to the next level up and to see in person some of the players I had watched on TV. This will be my fifth year.
The first two years, I volunteered with a friend. Then my husband heard how much fun we had and decided to join us. And this year, my friend’s dad, who is a retiree, will be joining us.
We always volunteer at the Family Zone. Honestly, I love it. It’s fun to see all the kids and how excited they are about golf.
After we finish our volunteer shift, we love to go around together and watch the tournament. One year, we were heading to the spectators tent behind the 18th hole when it started to rain. We walked inside the tent and almost literally ran into [Deere Chairman and CEO] Sam Allen. He was very friendly. It’s not often you get to see him in a more casual environment.
A Precociously Precocious Volunteer
Among the thousands of volunteers at this week’s John Deere Classic, only one will be wondering what awaits him in 5th grade at Seton Catholic School. Ten-year-old Isaac Rumler will be volunteering in a variety of roles and will even spend some time “inside the ropes,” walking with PGA tour pros.
Rumler’s ambition is to be inside the ropes again in another 10 years or so, only this time with a club in his hands and a PGA tour card in his pocket. He already has a formidable golf memory — his favorite shot was Justin Rose’s 3-wood off the fringe to win the 2013 U.S. Open, when Isaac was barely five years old. And he has an even more formidable golf resume: he’s been playing since he was 3 years old, has a 10 handicap, has carded a 66 on an 18-hole course, has won four of the six Iowa PGA Junior events he’s entered, and was a finalist in this year’s National Drive, Chip & Putt contest, held at the fabled August National course in Georgia last April. Maybe best of all, he’s met and received an autograph from Rose, his favorite PGA golfer.
Isaac’s dad got him started in the game and plays with him regularly, and his grandfather, who died last year, was also a big influence. Isaac revered his grandfather, “Papa Bob,” who was a 32-year veteran of John Deere, and as an homage, plays with his grandfather’s golf balls. At this week’s Classic, Isaac will visit the credentials trailer, where Papa Bob was a regular volunteer.
Isaac enjoys playing basketball and deck hockey, but he loves golf. Throughout the season, he plays five or six times a week with his father at the TPC Deere Run course, and even a family vacation doesn’t mean taking a break from golf. He and his father got in 36 holes on the first day of vacation last week.
Recently, in the local qualifying round for the 2020 National Drive, Chip & Putt contest, Isaac lapped the field. If he can keep it up, volunteers at the 2029 edition of the John Deere Classic may see one of their own on the leaderboard: Isaac Rumler.