When Beth Daniel received her first invitation to participate in the Sun City Million Dollar Challenge, she was thrilled. It was the 1980s and Daniel was among the first group of women invited to play in the extremely limited event at the Gary Player Country Club in Bophuthatswana.
There, Daniel went on safari in South Africa and visited Cape Town. Soon after, however, Daniel learned from his agent that a letter had arrived from the United Nations informing him that she had been blacklisted.
“You can call it naivety, ignorance,” Daniel said. “I didn’t realize when I went there the apartheid policies and how it affected the people of this country. When I went there and saw a few of them, I was mortified.
Daniel, 65, relayed the event at the recent KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer were on hand at Congressional Country Club as a former champion. The discussion that week, and every week it seems, focused in part on LIV Golf and the impact Saudi-backed money could have on the LPGA.
It was Daniel’s plea for the players to learn from his mistake and look at the big picture.
“I grew up in the South,” Daniel said, “and what I saw there was worse than what I saw growing up in the South.
“It ended up being a tremendous learning lesson for me.”
Daniel, who felt bad about going there, continued to write to explain that she did not agree with the racist policies of South Africa and that she had gone there simply to take part in a golf tournament. After three years, she was removed from the list.
In practice, the only event Daniel was forced to miss during this time was the LPGA-Senior PGA Mazda Championship in Jamaica.
The Million Dollar Challenge, now known as the Nedbank Golf Challenge, began in 1981 with a field of five which was expanded to 10 the following year. At first, the total prize was $1 million, but in 1987 it was replaced with a check for $1 million for first place. Meanwhile, non-white South Africans have been denied basic human rights, such as the right to vote. Apartheid in South Africa was dismantled in the early 1990s.
Knowing what she knows now, Daniel said, if she was still at the peak of her career and offered an invitation (and an appearance fee) to compete in Saudi Arabia, she wouldn’t accept based on rights violations. of man.
“Now it’s easy to tell from here,” said Daniel, who retired from the tour 15 years ago with 33 LPGA titles.
A week after the first edition of the LIV Golf Invitational Series at the Centurion Club, the Aramco Team Series London event presented by the Public Investment Fund took place on the same course.
The Saudi-backed Aramco series is part of the Ladies European Tour, which falls under the LPGA. There are two events on the LET calendar currently taking place in Saudi Arabia.
Many wonder what will happen to the LPGA if a similar LIV golf league is formed for top female stars.
When Meg Mallon, a four-time major winner who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017, spoke with LPGA players earlier this year, she noted that when the founders of the LPGA threw the bases of the tour in 1950, it was clearly stated that there would be no discrimination.
“And that wasn’t happening at all levels in sport or in most organizations,” Mallon said, “so our founders, from the start, had a conscience and looked to the future of the women’s game and then decided that they were not going to discriminate against anyone.
“If they had the character then, I think they would have had the character not to do this today either.”