LPGA founding member Danoff dies aged 88

Updated: 2011-12-27 16:24


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WASHINGTON - Bettye Danoff, one of the 13 founders of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), has died in Texas at age 88, the association said in statement Friday.

Danoff, known by her fellow golf pros as "Mighty Mite" because she was a petite woman, weighing about 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and only five-foot-two (1.57 merters), died on Thursday, the LPGA said.

LPGA founding member Danoff dies aged 88

Bettye Danoff, file photo. [Photo/LPGA.com]

A trailblazer for the sport, Danoff brought her children with her to tournaments and became the first grandmother on the tour.

"Bettye really did make a difference, in the world of golf and all of us are living proof," LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement posted on the association website.

"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."

The Dallas native got her start in golf at age six after her parents opened a driving range and nine-hole course.

She won four consecutive Dallas Women's Golf Association Championships from 1945 to 1948. And in 1947, Danoff defeated Babe Zaharias in the Texas Women's Open, ending Babe's 17-tournament winning streak. Danoff turned pro in 1949.

Danoff would often bring her three daughters, Kaye, Janie and Debbie, with her when she competed. There was no childcare for LPGA players on the road at that time.

"I remember traveling for five consecutive tournaments with her while she played," said Debbie Bell, Danoff's youngest daughter.

"She was often frustrated because she had to find friends and people to help watch us while she competed."

In 1961, Danoff's husband, Dr Clyde Walter Danoff, died suddenly. After that and until the mid-1970's she played only in tournaments in Texas and Oklahoma and taught golf.

In 1962, Danoff made her first hole-in-one at a tournament in Austin. Her award - a case of beer.