In Special Events

NAPLES, FL — March 22, 2023 — For the 15th year, Southwest Florida golf enthusiasts hit the links as part of The Immokalee Foundation’s 2023 Charity Classic Pro-Am Golf Tournament. The popular charity event included a Pairings Party on Sunday, March 12, and Pro-Am Tournament on Monday, March 13. Both were held at The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón.

Attendees at Sunday’s Pairings Party had the unique opportunity to be part of a special Q & A with event headliner Ernie Els and golf legend Peter Jacobsen. Els has 72 professional career victories, including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships, and a record seven World Matchplay titles.

Els is passionate about charities that support children. A South Florida resident, his Foundation, Els for Autism Foundation, was established in 2009. Liezl and Ernie Els’ son, Ben, is impacted by autism spectrum disorder, which affects 1 in 44 children in the U.S.

“What you are doing with The Immokalee Foundation is incredible. For over 31 years, you have helped over 15,000 kids through this Foundation—and it’s because of the support of the people sitting here.” Els observed. “It’s amazing what golf can do—bring people together.”

A native of South Africa, Els also remarked, “That’s why your country is such a great county—you guys give back like no other country I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Els, Jacobsen and a dozen more PGA and LPGA golf professionals participated in Monday’s Charity Classic Golf Tournament. Split into 15 teams; local golfers helped The Immokalee Foundation raise over $365,000 to support the educational and professional development needs of over 1,300 students in Immokalee this year alone—from kindergarten through postsecondary education.

John Tobe, CEO and President of Tobe Development, served as event chair. Committee members included Jerry Belle, Immokalee Foundation Board Chair, and Michael Benson, Managing Partner of Benson Blackburn.

“In golf, you must play the ball where it lies no matter how rough the terrain or what obstacles remain in the way,” said Immokalee Foundation President and CEO Noemi Y. Perez. “Like the game, Foundation students learn to overcome whatever adversity they face in life in order to move forward and realize the importance of making the most out of every opportunity.”

The funds raised support various Foundation activities, including the award-winning Career Pathways program. This comprehensive educational approach prepares students for high-demand, well-paying jobs in four pathways: Business Management & Entrepreneurship, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Construction Management, and Healthcare.

“Celebrating the 15th anniversary of The Immokalee Foundation’s Pro-Am Golf Tournament alongside Ernie Els, Peter Jacobsen, and these extraordinary golf pros is such an honor,”
said Marie Hernandez Rubenstein, Vice President of Philanthropy. “It was a great day for all involved. But the big winners were our students, who, thanks to the funds raised, will now have even more opportunities to up their game.”

About The Immokalee Foundation: For more than 31 years, The Immokalee Foundation has been preparing the next generation of leaders through a 100% focus on education, career readiness, and professional development for students in Immokalee. The Foundation provides new pathways to success and financial independence through robust programming that prepares students for well-paying, in-demand professional careers. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, become a mentor, volunteer as a career panel speaker or host, donate, or include the Foundation in your estate plans, please call 239-430-9122 or visit

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