Originally Posted Online: July 09, 2013, 9:19 pm
Last Updated: July 10, 2013, 12:51 am

JDC volunteer Leach is just a Grunt

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By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Former Moline mayor Stan Leach stops for a picture in front of the Deere statue in front of the clubhouse at John Deere Classic PGA Golf tournament at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

It's a shade before 8 a.m. on a rainy, tournament Tuesday, three-plus hours into a Grunt Crew member's day. A two-person sit-down has turned into a nine-person trip down memory lane.

That's OK. It's the Grunt-Crew way.

As it gracefully strides through its fifth decade, one man -- save for one tournament -- has volunteered for every John Deere Classic. Through the ups, downs, name changes and weather of all varieties, Moline's Stan Leach has been there.

A labor of love, if you will.

"I was not at the first (Quad City Open) at Crow Valley, but I had friends talk me into going over and being a ball-spotter (marshal) for the second one,'' said the former Moline mayor, who is working his 40th John Deere Classic.

Leach proudly serves on the best operations crew on the PGA Tout, the world-famous Grunt Crew.

"I wanted to see Lee Trevino play and I did, but I got talked into volunteering and then it sort of carried over.''

There are few behind-the-scenes jobs Leach has not been involved with during his JDC tenure. While there are specific jobs for the 60-person Grunt Crew, they/Leach answer any call.

"I've had a chance to do just about everything,'' said Leach, who taught 30 years in the Moline school system and was the longest-tenured mayor in the history of Moline. "Foods, caddies, on the board, been vice chair of operations. Grunt Crew is my favorite. Why? They tell me you cannot fire a volunteer.''

One job, though, eluded Leach. One he knew he could not devote the time needed to do right.

"Former tournament chairman Tom Robinson asked me to be chairman,'' Leach said. "It's hard to do one job right and darn-near impossible to do two jobs and do them well. I loved teaching and loved being mayor. I didn't feel it would be fair to all three if I said yes. That's stayed with me.''

Leach, and the large gathering assembled to rib him during this interview, laugh when recalling how far things have come for the Grunts.

"We started at Oakwood Country Club with a mobile home with holes in the floor,'' Leach said. "We had another one full of wasps. In the old days, we couldn't get on Oakwood until 4 p.m. the Sunday of tournament week out of respect to the membership.

"I get that, but we had a lot of 24-hour shifts back then. Today, we are here six weeks before and six weeks after the tournament.''

And long, long after that.

"I do this because it's a family setting and we give back to our community,'' Leach said. "It's an honor to be a Grunt and wear the shirt, but you just don't get the shirt, you work like everyone else involved. I'm just one guy of the 1,200 who make this tournament go.

"The volunteers allow the John Deere Classic to give millions back each year to a great community. It just so happened that I was the last one standing when they announced number of years at the banquet recently. I hope that's good, it sure was embarrassing.''

It's good. Whether it's five days or 40 years, it's all good.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.