Bettye Danoff, 88, a Texas golfer who was one of the LPGA Tour's 13 founding members and the first grandmother to play the tour, died Thursday in Texas, the tour announced. No cause was given.
At 5 feet 2 and barely 100 pounds, Danoff earned the nickname "Mighty Mite." Before the formation of the LPGA Tour, she beat sports great 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 Assn. Championships from 1945 to '48, the women's division of the Texas PGA in 1945 and '46 and the Texas Women's Amateur in 1947 and '48. 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 her 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."
A Dallas native, Danoff got her start in golf at 6 when her parents opened a driving range and nine-hole course in Grand Prairie, Texas.
After her husband died in 1961, she played a limited schedule, mostly in Texas and Oklahoma, and taught golf in Texas.
Danoff and the other founders were honored in 2000 with the Commissioner's Award.
-- Los Angeles Times wire reportsCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun