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Publish date: Dec 14, 2011

This article appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of Champion magazine.

Montana State Billings golfer gets his swan song

By Greg Johnson

Clark Swan is the only senior on the men’s golf roster at Montana State Billings. He’s the only senior citizen on the squad, too.

Clark Swan

Swan is no ordinary Division II student-athlete. Forty-four years after he first stepped on the school’s campus in 1967, when it was known as Eastern Montana College, the 62-year-old Swan returned to finish undergraduate work on a history degree and complete his final year of eligibility on the golf team in 2011-12.

One day he was back on campus looking through the trophy case when former men’s basketball coach George Pfeifer struck up a conversation. 

“I told him I was thinking about coming back to school and getting my degree,” said Swan, who was the backup punter on the football team and played golf when he was a student at Billings. Pfeifer advised Swan to check whether he had any golf eligibility left.

Swan found out he was 35 credits short of his degree. He began taking classes in January and earned 12 credits last spring and nine more over the summer. He is enrolled for 12 more this fall, which puts him on track to graduate in the spring.

Men’s golf coach Shawn O’Brien allowed Swan and his 5.8 handicap to walk on to the team after it was determined Swan had one year of eligibility left.

“The reaction to this from all the kids on all the sports teams has been great,” said Swan, whose first stint at college ended after three years when he decided to get married and start a family.

After leaving college, he began a 40-year business career in agricultural hydraulic equipment sales and management. 

“I’m doing this to be an example for my kids and grandkids,” Swan said.