Beth Daniel Was Blacklisted, Warns Players Of Saudi Mistake


When Beth Daniel received her first invitation to compete 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 field event at the Gary Player Country Club in Bophuthatswana.

While there, Daniel went on safari to South Africa and toured Cape Town. However, it wasn’t long after 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,” said Daniel. “I didn’t realize going there the policies of apartheid and how it affected the people of that country. When I went there and saw some of it, he mortified me.”


Daniel, 65, recounted the ordeal at the recent KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer was present at the Congressional Country Club as a former champion. The talk that week, and seemingly every week, focused in part on LIV Golf and the impact Saudi-backed money could have on the LPGA.

This was Daniel’s plea for the players to learn from their mistake and look at the bigger 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.”

Team USA captain Beth Daniel watches the play during a practice round before the start of the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms on August 20, 2009 in Sugar Grove, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Feeling terrible about going, Daniel kept writing to explain that he didn’t agree with South Africa’s racist policies and traveled there simply to compete in a golf tournament. After three years, she was removed from the list.

In practical terms, the only event Daniel was forced to miss at the 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 that was expanded to 10 the following year. Initially, the total prize money was $1 million, but in 1987 it was changed to a $1 million check for first place. During this time, non-white South Africans were denied basic human rights, such as the right to vote. Apartheid in South Africa was dismantled in the early 1990s.

Knowing what he knows now, Daniel said, if he were still in the prime of his career and were offered an invitation (and an appearance fee) to compete in Saudi Arabia, he would not accept it on the basis of human rights violations.

“Now, that’s easy to say from here,” said Daniel, who retired from touring 15 years ago with 33 LPGA titles.

A week after the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational series was held at Centurion Club, the Aramco Team Series London event presented by Public Investment Fund was held at the same course.

The Saudi-backed Aramco Series is part of the Ladies European Tour, which falls under the umbrella of 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.

Meg Mallon speaks onstage as she is inducted into the 2017 World Golf Hall of Fame on September 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

When Meg Mallon, a four-time Grand Slam winner and inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017, spoke to LPGA players earlier in the year, she noted that when the LPGA founders laid the groundwork for the tour In 1950, it was made clear that there would be no discrimination.

“And that didn’t happen in general in sports or in most organizations,” Mallon said, “so our founders, from the beginning, had a conscience and looked to the future of women’s soccer and decided then they weren’t going. discriminate against anyone.

“If they had the character then, I think they also wouldn’t have had the character not to do this today.”