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Charter service changes local tournament

Transatlantic travel is never easy.

Even if you think you’ve crossed all your T’s and dotted all your I’s, something is bound to go wrong.

This was the case last summer when the John Deere Classic charter flight across the pond, which was supposed to bring golfers from the Quad Cities to Scotland, was slightly postponed.

Deere officials had secured the New England Patriots’ second plane for the charter flight, but no one knew that “that plane did not have a charter license to enter the United Kingdom,” said JDC tournament director Andrew Lehman, noting that the information came to light on Monday, July 4, during the Pro-Am pairing party.

A replacement plane was organized in a hurry and the entire tour group arrived on time.

This appears to be a major selling point for players competing in the PGA Tour event in the calendar’s smallest market.

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“When we reinstated the charter a year ago, we stopped the guys at the range,” Lehman said. “It’s the easiest way to get there and there’s no risk of losing luggage or clubs.”

“The boys seem to appreciate this option.”

Lehman reported that 60 of the 96 lie-flat business class seats on the 767-300ER jet that will be in service this year have already been reserved, and more seats could be filled before the plane leaves Quad Cities International Airport next Sunday evening.

Tournament officials are requesting a donation of $2,000 per seat to go to the JDC Charity Fund.

By working with Scottish Open officials, all paperwork and customs issues can be taken care of before the players even arrive in Scotland, Lehman said.

“They take the passengers off the plane, load them into buses or cars and take them to their destination,” Lehman said.

How important is this advantage in getting players to the Quad Cities, at least in the eyes of the JDC staff?

“I think we would have a problem without them,” said Lehman of the charter service.

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