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Our Goal


A world where every child feels valued and respected, free to pursue their passion and fulfill their mission.


SwingPals' mission is to build a foundation of health and strong character in children facing adversity. SwingPals uses golf as a medium through which students develop mindfulness and self-regulation skills, empowering them to pursue their passion and fulfill their potential to create positive change in their community.

“Thank you for this amazing opportunity. Coming to SwingPals sessions has helped me manage to control what I can control. When I am focused and determined on my goal everything else flows. If I am relaxed and focused on what I can control, everything will work out. I cannot wait to continue these sessions and become part of the SwingPals family.”

- Coach Neal, Athletic Director, Neal Middle School


SwingPals was founded in 2009 with the express purpose of using the game of golf to connect children who face adversity with caring adults who love the game and the desire to give back to the community. Doug’s goal was to target middle schools in Durham, NC, with the highest percentages of students enrolled who are eligible for free/reduced-price lunches, and the schools that have the highest percentages of students testing at or below grade level in reading and math. These metrics indicate higher levels of financial insecurity and academic challenges for these students in the future. Many students from these schools are also at risk of facing poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, high crime rates, obesity, teen pregnancy, and child mistreatment.

Since founding SwingPals in 2010, Doug Hodges has coached over five thousand Durham public school students and volunteered over thirty thousand hours of his time serving families who are underserved and vulnerable. When asked why he commits his life to serving, he shares that he knows what it is like to grow up lacking opportunity. Today he is grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children who are underserved and often marginalized.


Arriving in the United States in 1980 with $100 in his pocket and no job, he admits he felt quite scared. After stints of painting and other menial tasks, he took a bookkeeping job that ultimately led him to a successful career trading crude oil on the floor of the New York Commodities Exchange. With no clients, he had in effect become a professional gambler! Through hard work and a degree of luck, he survived.


By his mid-30s, he realized his work was not aligned with his core values. This realization was an unintended by-product of his becoming involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and mentoring. Over the subsequent fifteen years, he mentored two boys from age 9 to adulthood. Little did he know this would be the genesis of SwingPals. He has volunteered every day since to fulfill his mission that every child feels valued and respected and to honor his deepest core value: to serve others who are less fortunate than him.


At age 50, when his second Big Brother match ended, his birthday gift to himself was to launch SwingPals and create a family foundation which today remains one of the largest donors to SwingPals each year. Rather than just mentoring one child, Hodges is now able to provide programming and life-changing opportunities to more than a thousand children every year who live in Durham and who face adversity.


Hodges’ Vision is that every child who lacks resources should have the opportunity to experience SwingPals when they enter middle school. He drives the paradigm shift that the children we serve are not broken and do not need fixing. Hodges believes passionately that as caregivers, volunteer coaches, school staff and administration, and SwingPals advocates, we must learn SwingPals skills too. We must be able to stop and listen to our children, empowering them to use their voice and to pursue their life, unencumbered by the past or fearful of the future.


As Hodges looks ahead, it is with great enthusiasm and optimism and the realization that our children are leading the way which drives his passion to serve. Thank you for joining him on this journey.  



Fast forward to 2023, SwingPals continues to serve 5 Durham public middle schools, where every 6th grader experiences SwingPals programming and is provided with the tools and skills that will change their lives. We are currently in the process of developing Phase 3, which will deepen the programming in the school communities, and build the capacity to serve more middle school students and their families. 



SwingPals has improved my daughter’s social anxiety and focus. Coming from NY, I was worried she will be in this bubble. She has improved her grades in school and wanna do great in everything she does now.” 

- Mrs. Patricia A. Carter

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