Lowe thrilled to volunteer

Amy Boldt
Diane Lowe long time volunteer at the John Deere Classic.

A need for female volunteers back in 1975 turned into a 34 year stint as a volunteer with the John Deere Classic for Diane Lowe.

Lowe of Colona and owner of Travel Masters in Geneseo, just completed her 34th consecutive year volunteering at the TPC Golf Course in Silvis when the pros come to town for the John?Deere Classic. Lowe was recognized with the Outstanding Committee Chair Award this year. 

“My cousin Bruce Swanson asked me to help three days before the 1975 event and said ‘show up, I need girls’ and that is how I got involved,” said Lowe. “So I did and I was a standard bearer, which carries a tall pole with three or four sections on it that has the pros names on it. We walk with the scorekeeper and the scorekeeper tells us what to put up on the sign.”

Standard bearer is the only position she has held for the last 34 years in some form or another. Lowe has walked the course and most recently has been involved with committees as co-chair and this year committee chair and standard bearers chairman.

“Once a standard bearer always a standard bearer,” said Lowe. “I never wanted to move really. It is the best job out there. I love the department.”

With her new post as committee chair, Lowe spends the majority of her time managing and working on schedules for the standard bearers. She currently overseas 100 to 125 volunteers and stated that people lovingly call them “the stick chicks and a few guys” since the volunteers are primarily women.

One would think that volunteering to be involved in a golf tournament that Lowe would be an avid golfer, but that is not the case.

“When I started I didn’t know anything about golf,” said Lowe. “It wasn’t until after volunteering that I took lessons, but I don’t golf. I?enjoy watching and following the friends I made on the tour.”

With Lowe it is not all about the golf for her, it is more about giving back.

“I enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community and it is a great environment,” said Lowe. “It is a huge network of people who love and respect what we do.”

Another thing Lowe enjoys about being involved with the John Deere Classic is how it gives the surrounding areas a boost in economy and local charities.

“It adds an economic boost and makes people want to come here,” said Lowe. “And with John Deere as the sponsor, what can be better.”

Lowe’s favorite player to watch she stated was Tiger Woods when it was his first time at the Classic. The John Deere Classic has been held at the TPC Golf Course since 1999, but before that it was held from 1975 to 1998 at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley.

“Oh my gosh, there is just a spirit there and everybody is so willing to give,” said Lowe of the atmosphere on tournament day.

It is really a family affair for Lowe at the John Deere Classic, aside from her cousin getting her started, Lowe’s mother, father, sister, daughter and son have all volunteered their time at the tournament.

Lowe’s mother, Elaine Swanson, volunteered in finance and uniform distribution for over 25 years; Lowe’s father, the late Clarence A. Swanson, volunteered in transportation for over 25 years; Lowe’s sister, Ardith Cassell, committee chair; and son Jared and daughter Natalie also lend a hand.

Lowe stated being able to give back through working with the John Deere Classic and the many charities that benefit from it is one of the reasons she continues to stay involved.

“In 1995, I lost my nephew Jeffrey to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and after that I learned about Birdies for Charity,” said Lowe. “I enrolled the standard bearers as Birdie 250 and we topped the over $15,000 donation mark at the end of last year. We then made a donation to the Make A Wish Foundation in honor of Jeffrey.”

Next year’s John Deere Classic is scheduled for July 6 to July 12.

“I hope they don’t fire me because I love it and look forward to it every year,” said Lowe of how long she will continue to volunteer.