Lee golf coach John Maupin might have saved his top recruit for last. MJ Daffue, from Pretoria, South Africa, is ranked 235th among the best amateur golfers in the world.
"I've been dreaming of this day (playing college golf in the United States) since I was 14," said Daffue after officially becoming a Flame. "I heard about Lee from a friend (Elrich van Eck, Shorter College) about two weeks ago. I got in touch with coach Maupin and here I am, ready to help my team win the NAIA National Championship."
It took Daffue almost 24 hours to get from his South Africa home to Cleveland, but he was bright-eyed and ready to attend his first class on Labor Day. "I want to thank coach (Larry) Carpenter, Mr. (Gary) Ray and the Lee Admissions Department for helping MJ realize a dream," said Maupin. "They made it happen very quickly!"
Daffue has been playing competitive golf in South Africa for the past six years. He has already played the game in Japan's Toyota World Junior Tournament; traveled to the Belgium Saab International; and was in Scotland for the British Amateur this summer. He has already won the South Amateur Match Play event and made the South Africa amateur team this past summer.
Currently World Golf has Lee ranked as the 17th best college program. The Flames could climb higher with the signing of Daffue.
The new recruit is not shy when it comes to talking about golf. "Another one of my goals is to be first-team All-American," he stressed. "I love the team atmosphere in the game of golf. I want to help motivate my teammates and help us all get better."
"MJ brings that type of experience," said Maupin. "He's already been up against some of the best amateurs in the world. This summer he shot a 64 and set a course record in South Africa. I want MJ and my entire team to go out, work hard and have some fun."
Daffue admits to having mixed feeling about his departure from Pretoria. "In about two or three days I'll put it all behind me and make myself at home. I'm still undecided about a major, but I feel like I have plenty of time to work on that."
In the meantime, Maupin will get his Flames ready for their first match of the fall next week. They will travel to London, Ky. to take part in the Bill Sergent Invitational. Spirits have never been higher as the club makes the trip into the mountains of Kentucky.