Steve Elling reports on the latest John Deere Classic tournament perk, a chartered jet to the Open Championship (invitation not included). It's the same jet bringing the lugs back for the Canadian Open. These Guy Have It Good!
Anyway, in an attempt to build the field strength, tournament officials have taken the Deere by the horns and chartered a jet plane for a Sunday-night redeye flight to Manchester, promising to ferry for free the players and their families to the British in time to practice on Monday morning. Tournaments have been in an all-out arms race to out-hustle one another with gifts, spa treatments, free food and the like, but this is a novel idea that just might boost one of the weaker fields of the regular season.And...
From the sounds of it, the jet seems downright posh. Clair Peterson, the Deere tournament director, said they have lined up a 100-seat 767 that will be parked at the Quad Cities Airport, warmed up and ready. All the seats are first class, he said, and it should arrive by 8 a.m. in England.
"It's a big deal," Peterson said. "Obviously our date and our location have made it difficult for players to get to the British Open. We had eight players last year that played here and made the trip over. Our expectation is that we'll at least double that this year.
The jet has frequently been used by Mark Cuban's NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and is going to run more than $300,000, a Deere tournament official said. Rather than choosing to dump the money into the purse, where it wouldn't have attracted much attention from the players, they figured the jet service would make a splash.