LPGA founding member Danoff dies at 88

Bettye Danoff, one of the LPGA Tour’s 13 founding members, has
died. She was 88.

The LPGA Tour said Danoff’s family confirmed she died Thursday
in Texas.

At 5-foot-2 and barely 100 pounds, Danoff earned the nickname
”Mighty Mite” and was the first grandmother to play the tour.
Before the formation of the LPGA Tour, she beat Babe Zaharias 1-up
as an amateur in the final of the 1947 Texas Women’s Open to end
Zaharias’ 17-tournament winning streak.

Danoff won four straight Dallas Women’s Golf Association
Championships from 1945-48, the women’s division of the Texas PGA
in 1945 and 1946 and the Texas Women’s Amateur in 1947 and 1948.
The Texan, winless on the LPGA Tour, also played exhibitions as an
amateur with PGA Tour star Byron Nelson in the late 1940s.

”Bettye really did make a difference, in the world of golf -and
all of us are living proof,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said.
”Because of her courage, and the vision/belief of many others that
followed our founders, we all get to participate in a fantastic
business and game.”

Danoff often traveled the tour with daughters Kaye, Janie and
Debbie.

”I remember traveling for five consecutive tournaments with her
while she played,” Debbie Bell said. ”She was often frustrated
because she had to find friends and people to help watch us while
she competed.”

Born Bettye Mims, Danoff got her start in golf at 6 when her
parents opened a driving range and nine-hole course. That course,
Sunset Golf Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, is still in the Mims’
family.

Danoff and the others founders were honored in 2000 with the
Commissioner’s Award. Last year, the tour started the LPGA Founders
Cup in Phoenix.

Danoff’s husband, Dr. Clyde Walter Danoff, died in 1961.