These three friends aren’t just changing the world by raising the prestige of golf—they’re helping to make it kinder.
BY SONIA LARSON
A few years ago, a dear friend invited me to go with her to receive private golf lessons. The instructors, she told me, were three LDS professional golfers on the Ladies European Tour who were in Salt Lake City for conference weekend. I gladly accepted because my game needed help—a lot of help. When I packed my clubs into the back of my car that day, I had no idea the magic one golf lesson could have. The lessons they gave were better than any I could have hoped for. They fixed my grip, showed me how to put more power into my swing, and even helped me make up with my driver, which had stayed snugly stored in my golf bag for quite some time. But for all that they taught me, the magic wasn’t found in their knowledge of the game. It was found in their stories—stories that made clear the remarkable women they are.
Reeve Nield, a professional golfer and current coach on the Ladies European Tour, is nothing if not willing to share what she knows—whether it’s about golf skills or the Church. A native of Zimbabwe, Reeve takes pleasure in helping others. On the golf course, you’ll find her sharing her talents with many; two in particular being professional golfers Laurette Maritz and Cecilie Lundgreen. Reeve met Laurette in 1994 and later that year became her coach, manager, and caddie. Then in 2001, Cecilie’s mother recruited Reeve to help Cecilie with her game, and they have worked together as coach and player ever since. When Reeve isn’t coaching or caddying on the golf course, she’s likely to be found enjoying time with her family in Zimbabwe or raising funds, with help from Laurette and Cecile, for her charity organization, Eyes for Zimbabwe. The charity began almost fi fteen years ago when Reeve met a twelve-year-old girl who was blind due to bi-lateral cataracts. All that separated her from her sight were twenty dollars’ worth of medical supplies, a surgeon, and a fi fteen-minute operation. Right then Reeve knew she wanted to do something to help. So in 1996 Reeve began Eyes for Zimbabwe, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that raises money and collects medical supplies to host eye clinics throughout Zimbabwe, where volunteer doctors help restore sight to thousands of children and adults each year. Reeve served a full-time mission in Provo, Utah, from 1992 to 1993, and even though her daily clothing is more likely to be a golf uniform than a missionary outfit, you may not be able to tell the difference. She gives off that that kind of feeling.
Laurette Maritz has a quiet dignity that comes from knowing who she is, not who the world says she is. As South Africa’s top lady golf professional, Laurette is a household name in her country and has millions of fans cheering her on, like during the Second Women’s World Cup of Golf at Gary Player’s Sun City golf club in South Africa. During this tournament, Laurette was paired with fellow South African teammate Ashleigh Simon, and all of South Africa was behind them. With this pressure on their shoulders, they approached the ninth green—an island green surrounded by water. The two ladies were alternating shots, and it was Laurette’s turn. When Ashleigh asked
Laurette her plan for the hole, Laurette simply and boldly said, “I’m going to put it on the green.” Even with this pressure, Laurette showed a strength of mind that helped her make it on the green. Ashleigh afterwards sank her shot for eagle, and the crowd erupted with excitement. People from all over the world acclaimed her. Yet with all her fame, Laurette has developed the talent of taking any light that is shone on her and refl ecting it onto those around her.
Standing six feet tall with striking blonde hair and blue eyes, Cecilie Lundgreen is an impressive sight, on or off the golf course. A native of Norway, Cecilie would be the first to tell you that all she wanted when she was younger was to be rich and famous. Her talents in golf made that a reality after she turned professional in June of 1998. But time and experience has changed her focus. If she is known for anything now, it is for her very caring heart. In 2001, Cecilie was asked to join Reeve and Laurette in raising funds for Eyes for Zimbabwe, and she now runs the Norwegian chapter. “I am a proud supporter of this wonderful project,” she says. “There I was, in the rural areas of Zimbabwe watching young children being given such a great gift as their eyesight. . . . The excitement and emotions could be felt and touched. My life has not been the same since.” Cecilie brings that same loving care into other areas of her life. After Reeve and Laurette shared the message of the gospel with her, Cecilie found hope through the plan of salvation that she could be reunited with loved ones who had passed away, including her father and best friend. She began attending Church regularly, both on tour and in her hometown, and was baptized in Norway in November of 2002, about a month after her mother’s death. Cecilie loves serving in the Church, including her current service as second counselor in her ward’s Young Women presidency. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these three women is that what you say about one, you can say about all—they are talented golfers who love to serve and share what they know; they are powerful examples for good. Mark Twain once said, “Golf is a long walk wasted.” But I think he would have changed his mind if he had the privilege of golfing with these three women.♥