Ministry Helps Put Golf In Perspective


Maggie Leef took an eye-opening trip to South Africa that lasted 12 days. (John Mummert/USGA)

By Ken Klavon, USGA
September 11, 2011


Chattanooga, Tenn. – Maggie Leef has witnessed squalor, which puts golf in perspective. 

After carding a 3-over 75 that will surely get her into Monday’s match play, the animated 51-year-old Brookfield, Wis., native explained how a ministry to South Africa opened her eyes to what’s important in life.  

This past October, Leef embarked on 26 hours worth of plane rides to take part in the Living Hope ministry. The ministry evolved from the Low Country Community Church in Bluffton, S.C. It targeted Red Hill, an informal township near Cape Town. Red Hill is one of six communities supported by the ministry. Much of the camp existed because of apartheid. It was a squatters’ camp, more or less, said Leef. 

According to the Living Hope Web site, Red Hill is located between Scarborough and Simon’s Town and houses an informal settlement of approximately 400 makeshift households. Originally started in the 1980s, Red Hill has retained a small population of around 1,000 people and consists of a black and mixed area of residents. The settlement is located on a large hill with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, with residents attracted by the solitude of living in what they call “the country.” 

In stark contrast to the sweeping scenery, almost all residents live well below the poverty line; even though there has been slight and gradual improvement, it is still very much a community in need. Red Hill has only had running water since 2005 and electricity since 2007, and almost all the residents live in simple shacks. Leef said she saw a water spicket every 10 or so shacks, which was used to do laundry as the women sang together.  

Unemployment is a major concern. It is estimated that roughly 80 percent of the population is unemployed. 

In an area where 98 percent of the women make up the head of household due to cultural reasons, the ministry’s purpose was to curb the spread of the HIV/Aids virus. Leef was there for 12 days bringing smiles to children’s faces and doling out hugs to whoever needed one. The ministry provided free clinics that taught the dangers of spreading the disease.  

“It was striking,” said Leef. “I still haven’t made sense of it all. But I never had pity on anyone even though I was surprised at their condition of living.” 

Leef privately worried on the plane trip that she’d have nothing in common with anyone. As soon as she got off the plane, she saw a tomatillo plant – a cross between a green pepper and tomato - growing in the side of the mountain. Leef had tried growing tomatillos on her own with little luck. She asked one of the local women what the secret was to growing them. The woman told her lots and lots of water. That was it.  

One of the goals of Living Hope was to provide crafts and supplies for the women. Living Hope contributed pillow cases that would be turned into dresses or small tops for girls. 

Leef said it was noticeable that many of the children weren’t in school. There’s no government penalty for not sending a child to school, so the ministry would try to teach the kid, provide bible lessons and sing songs.  

“You would feed them something as simple as peanut butter sandwiches and an apple, banana or cookie,” said Leef, “and you would get the biggest smiles. They were happy with their way of life.” 

And that time, golf was the furthest thing from her mind.  



Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image