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Swing For The Green - EDUCATION

Community colleges providing access that traditional schools lack, like opportunities for single-parents and classes that conform to full-time working schedules

There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” The message behind the adage implies the long-term importance of education. It's not just a place of rote attendance, but a society’s desire for a population that values dedication, discipline, and lifelong learners.

Here in Idaho, there’s a similar vein of thought when creating educational opportunities through philanthropic efforts. Bank of Idaho President Jeff Newgard’s vision of meeting Idaho’s educational needs prompted a unique opportunity under the mantle of sports, with the creation of a golf tournament aptly named, “Swing for the Green”.

Access to education and opening financial opportunities is a sentiment that Newgard himself feels incredibly passionate about. “I have a background that includes two years of community college. I learned that community college students are not always traditional students. Sometimes people are reentering student life. It's great to talk with people who have already had careers and work experience.”

Newgard’s experience rings true with statistics. The average age of a community college student is 28, with many identifying as full-time workers who are often enrolled in full-time studies. Community colleges can provide access that traditional schools lack, like opportunities for single-parents and classes that conform to full-time working schedules. With Idaho’s college-educated population among the lowest in the nation, the need for opening more opportunities is one that drives Newgard’s passion forward. Though the tournament has grown increasingly each year, he hasn’t forgotten the bigger picture.

When he started Swing for the Green back in 2017, Newgard envisioned not just a community event, but one that could sow seeds of future opportunities as well as tap into the community with something fun and fruitful.

How did the tournament get off and running? It took a bit of planning and finding the perfect partnership. Says Newgard, “We worked with a company out of Phoenix (Backswing Events) that had three LPGA players. They helped us go around from group to group, to play with them. One player camped out at a hole, and it all just made for a really fun event. We had a dinner beforehand with an inspirational speaker. It was a great success that first year.”

Not only did this maiden venture raise around twelve-thousand dollars, it also ignited a certain excitement for building scholarship funds and involving the community with potential to grow. Like most things that become readily successful, there is always the need to look for ways to expand or improve. This was duly demonstrated by last year’s tournament netting fifty-thousand dollars, with year to date funding over $100,000 for College of Eastern Idaho students. The growing numbers indicate not only its imminent success, but also potential for expanding educational opportunities for students all over the state of Idaho. This includes students here in the Treasure Valley, notably at the College of Western Idaho. Circling back to Newgard’s vision, expansion was always a part of that plan.

Newgard further explains this vision, “We decided that we would expand into Pocatello and Boise. So this year (2022), we’re going to have a similar event to support Idaho State University students in Pocatello. In Boise we’ll be at Banbury to support the College of Western Idaho. We love community college because it provides access for education. It opens those doors.”

The tournament is really two-fold: proceeds and impact. The funds help potential students and provide opportunities for the LPGA players in the tournament. “The company (Backswing Events) is a woman-owned company that provides up and coming tournament players the ability to pay for their own entry fees and support their career as they try to get into the LPGA.”

The first event took place June 16 and 17, 2022, at the Idaho Falls Country Club, benefiting College of Eastern Idaho; followed by a Pocatello tournament on August 8, at Riverside Golf Course, benefiting Idaho State University. A third event will take place in Treasure Valley on September 15 and 16, at the Banbury Golf Club, benefiting College of Western Idaho.

The 25-team tournament include variations tailored to their location, featuring LPGA professionals, a derby shootout, shopping and customized player swag, a pre-tournament party, signature cocktails, live entertainment and auction. 

For more information about purchasing tickets or to join the tournament, go to: BankOfIdaho.com/s4

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