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, even after her husband, Dr. Clyde Walter Danoff, died in 1961.
“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.