DAVENPORT, Iowa â€“ Driving over the Mississippi River at night is truly something, as you leave Illinois, arch up and over the blackness and to the lights of Davenport, Iowa. The lights from the other side give glimpses to the water below, jumping off the ripples and then disappearing like fireflies.
During the day it's just as majestic, its sheer size and power moving beneath you in the opposite direction.
It's a great scene setter once you get into Iowa, where I made my way to the historic Hotel Blackhawk. Built nearly 100 years ago in 1915, it's one of the country's historic hotelsÂ and has been recently renovated by the hotel restoration company Restoration Saint Louis.
It's a must-stay if you find yourself traveling to Iowa, or to the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic PGA Tour event July 9-15 in nearby Silvis, Ill.
It's a good year to make the trip considering there are no regular PGA Tour events in Wisconsin or Illinois this year, and tickets to the PGA's Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago have long been sold out.
Madison resident Steve Stricker is also going to attempt to make history at the JDC as he vies for his fourth consecutive title at TPC Deere Run, a feat accomplished only by Tiger Woods, Young Tom Morris, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen.
In a crowded marketplace for visitors, Hotel Blackhawk sets itself apart thanks to not only the historic, old-time feel but all of the first world amenities we expect â€“ and some we don't.
The hotel offers a free WiFi connection, which is a huge plus, along with a bowling alley. Yes, bowling alley â€“ the Blackhawk Bowl and Martini Lounge. There is no better nightcap for the nightcap than bringing it downstairs and knocking down a few pins.
The lobby is spacious, luxurious and runs seamlessly into a renovated bar and restaurant area. Workout facilities and Spa Luce are on-site, and there's access to area golf clubs (if you're not out watching the professionals, that is). If you decide to visit around tournament week, the hotel can help arrange tee times on the tournament course, as well as Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club.
I've been fortunate enough to stay in some nice places over the years in my travels covering sporting events, and usually the resort facilities top the list â€“ after all, everything is on site. But few rooms can stand up to Hotel Blackhawk, sharply decorated and designed.
The in-room appliances are all modern, including a television built into the bathroom mirror to enjoy while in the hot tub.
They've also done a nice job in color selection in making the rooms look sleek, but keeping that historic feel.
If you are planning a visit to see Stricker, Madison resident Jerry Kelly and Menomonee Falls native Mark Wilson contend for the title at the John Deere Classic, be sure to book a room in Davenport soon.
Despite being, seemingly, in the middle of nowhere, the John Deere Classic a well-attended event which draws crowds from Iowa, Illinois and southwest Wisconsin. The field is also gaining strength as players will attempt to qualify for the next week's British Open, as well as rack up points for the Ryder Cup.
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