The John Deere Company keeps America’s heartland producing.
It sells vital farm equipment, all sizes and shapes of equipment necesary for our farming communities, which are so vital for feeding our country.
So basically the company had little choice when it made the difficult decision to call off the 2020 John Deere Classic, an event that donated north of $13 million to charities in the Quad-Cities area after the 2019 event.
First consider that last month, the company laid off more than 260 employees from its huge Dubuque Works facility in Iowa. Of those 260, 159 were on “indefinite” layoff.
That facility was built in 1947 and entails 1,465 acres. The factory there produces Crawler loaders, Crawler dozers, Skid steers, Forestry harvesters and Knuckleboom cranes. Those assorted pieces of heavy equipment are used in road construction, underground utility construction, residential construction, material handing, road maintenance, full-tree harvesting and cut-to-length harvesting.
John Deere is blue-collar company manned by blue collar workers who supply quality equipment to farmers and construction companies all across our nation.
Tough to explain to those laid-off employees that you’re spending $7 million to pad the pockets of professional golf’s millionaires.
So John Deere did the right thing — it put the 2020 tournament on hiatus until next year.
Same for the other tournament sponsors of the John Deere Classic. They’re hurting, their employees and customers are hurting. One of those sponsors checked with their customers and guests and 90 percent said they wouldn’t come to the event, even if invited to hang out in a fancy corporate tent or luxury box.
This tournament gets huge spectator and community support. Everyone in those communities knows how important the charity dollars are. The pro-am alone raises $1 million. No pro-am, no money.
Basically all of the other sponsors told the folks at John Deere that they didn’t feel comfortable sinking money into the event under the national circumstances.
So yes, the John Deere Company did what it had to do.
Which brings us back to that wonderful, greed-driven organization known at the PGA Tour.
Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if The Sheriff Of Nottingham (aka tour commish Jay Monahan) and His Band Of Sinister Henchmen, gathered together up there in their Ponte Vedra Palace and said to the good folks of the quad-cities area — hey, we know how much the tournament means and how much it raises and distributes, here’s a little token of our appreciation — and lo and behold, the Tour sends them a check for, let’s say, a paltry $3-4 million.
But no, that won’t happen. Although the PGA Tour takes credit for the funds raised for charity, it’s the local folks there at the John Deere who do all the heavy lifting, the ones on the ground raise all that money.
Of course the always-greedy PGA Tour is already working to replace the John Deere on its revised tournament schedule. Heaven forbid the players go a week without all those six-figure paychecks on the line.
So the Tour has turned its attention to the golf folks of Columbus, Ohio, knowing that their favorite son just happens to be Jack W. Nicklaus, golf’s most accomplished major champion. The Tour is hoping the golf-friendly city will find a way to fork up another $7 million and produce an event, even though it annually has that biggie — The Memorial.
No, the Tour needs to fill that slot that was left open by the good judgement of a good company.
And John Deere is a good company — and a responsible corporate citizen.
It did the right thing.
Now if only the PGA Tour would follow that lead.