SILVIS, Ill. — Don't let the clubs fool you. The name of this game, is family.
At every John Deere Classic, the CEO of Deere & Company plays a Wednesday pro-am round of golf with the previous year's tournament champion. But for the past two years, CEO John May has chosen to caddy instead, giving his spot up to one of his employees.
This year, the honor of playing with the pros (with the pressure of having your boss caddy for you) went to John Deere employee Joel Oltman. The 15-year Deere worker grew up around the Quad Cities and has played golf since he was 8 years old.
But playing in the pro-am was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"John May personally called me to invite me to take the tee for him," said Oltman. "I've never been inside the ropes, haven't had my name announced with a lot of people watching, but I know most of them will be friends and family."
And that statement couldn't be more truthful. Out of the crowd watching Oltman tee off during the classic, nine pairs of eyes shone a little brighter than the rest.
"All eight of my kids and my wife are here. They're all here to support me and enjoy the day," said Oltman.
You read that right. Eight kids, with ages ranging from 22 years old to nearly 2.
Anthony, Noah, Sophia, Madeline, Zelle, Isaac, Justin and Ambrose spent the day following their father through all 18 holes at TPC Deere Run - a feat they'd never attempted before.
While not all of his children enjoy playing the game themselves, some of them do love hitting the greens with their dad, especially middle son Isaac.
"A lot of family history here," Theresa Oltman laughed. "This is all an experience! We have two carts and the double stroller."
Husband and wife for 19 years, the Oltmans met while working at JCPenney in high school. Now, the two say they're open to life and trying to live it to the fullest.
And while dad focused on the game, his kids (mostly) focused on him, watching their father play on one of golf's biggest stages.
"They're my biggest fans," gushed Joel. "They know what a good shot and a bad shot is and they're rooting me on."