Like most Midwest courses, TPC Deere Run received far more rain this spring than history says should fall around the Great Lakes as the calendar turns toward April and May, inch after inch pouring down on its 385 acres. Unlike most courses across the Midwest, TPC Deere Run still needed to open its gates for the crowds and cameras that accompany a summer PGA Tour event.
How to prepare an expansive property for a weeklong television showcase when rain relegates you to the cart path? Ask Alex Stuedemann, the veteran director of golf course maintenance operations now in his sixth year back in the Quad Cities after TPC stints in Minnesota and Texas.
The course received 13 inches of rain from April 13 to May 12, he says, “and it just kept stacking, stacking, stacking on top of a very snowy winter — it was the second- or third-snowiest on record for the Quad Cities — so the soil was already charged and now we had all this rain.”
The rain never relented. “It was just so continuous,” Stuedemann says. “It wasn’t like we were getting blown out. The bunkers were fine, and for the most part, the golf course maintained its integrity, we just couldn’t get on it.”
Golfers were permitted to drive off the path just four days during May. More important for the tournament ahead, Stuedemann and his crew of 25 mowed fairways only two or three times during the month and were unable to mow the rough even once. A fleet that includes 109 pieces of John Deere equipment remained in park.
“We were picking our battles,” Stuedemann says. “What was imperative to be done prior to the event? What were the things that we might see but the professional golfer or the spectator coming out here wouldn’t know the difference? Those are tough choices to make, because it’s kind of a bug in your craw, not having something done, even though in your eyes almost everybody else can’t see it.”