No sooner had Europe’s Solheim Cup team defeated its American counterparts 15-13 in late September at Killeen Castle near Dublin, Ireland, than publications (including Sports Illustrated) dubbed the outcome a victory for women’s golf. The U.S.’s previous dominance (8-3 in the first 11 meetings, including three straight wins) threatened to make the matches “irrelevant,” so a Europe win was good for everyone – or so the logic went.
Charleston native Beth Daniel
, who capped her Hall of Fame career by serving as 2009 Solheim Cup captain and leading the U.S. to a 16-12 victory, does understand that thinking, she says. Buying into it is another matter.
“As a former player (who participated in eight Solheim Cups from 1990-2005), every time we won the argument was: if the U.S. won every time, people would stop paying attention,” she said. “But you hate to hear that as a competitor.
“The times we won, it could’ve gone the other way. On Sunday when my team won at Rich Harvest Farms (outside Chicago two years ago), we pulled it out on the back nine. It’s always close.”
No surprise that Daniel, who turns 55 on Oct. 14, was never a happy loser. Starting with her amateur career in Charleston
and at Furman University
, the 5-foot-11 blonde bomber won events with her length off the tee, her irons play – and her fierce competitiveness.
That edge was there when she began playing at age 6 and didn’t fade over the years. When she captured her final title at the 2003 Canadian Women’s Open at age 47, she became the oldest winner in LPGA history.
Now working as a broadcast commentator and living in Florida, Daniel flew to Ireland to support her old team. She declined to say how she might’ve coached this team differently than U.S. captain Rosie Jones.
“I wouldn’t second-guess her,” Daniel said. “Hindsight is 20-20 and it’s easy to look back and say, I’d do this. But it was her team; I wasn’t involved at all. She did what she thought.”
That’s the way Daniel always did it, as a player and a captain: playing to win.
Member of 1977 NCAA Championship team at Furman University; turned professional in 1978 and won 33 LPGA titles between 1979-2003, including the 1990 LPGA Championship, her lone major; finished second in six other LPGA majors; was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000; captained the 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup team.
Won 1975 and 1977 U.S. Women’s Amateur titles; named Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) female player of the year in 1980 and 1990; selected United Press International 1990 Female Athlete of the Year; also a member of the S.C. Athletic, S.C. Golf and LPGA halls of fame.
Where I play golf:
“I learned to play growing up at the Country Club of Charleston
and it’s still a favorite, but I also like all the courses at Kiawah Island
. All of those are good, and I like Wild Dunes
, especially the Links Course
. Harbour Town
at Hilton Head
is a great golf course, one of my favorites, and another one there is Long Cove
, which is private. I went to school in Greenville
, and (Greenville Country Club’s) Chanticleer
(course) is one of the ones I really like.
“In Myrtle Beach
, I love Caledonia
; I think that course is great and a lot of fun. I hear True Blue
is good, too, so those are two courses I would recommend. Furman Golf Course
has definitely improved tremendously, and is in a lot better shape than it used to be. I have not played it real recently, but I understand it now gets pretty good crowds, which is good for the school.”
Where I eat:
“There just isn’t a bad restaurant in downtown Charleston
. I love Anson’s
, which is on Anson Street. There’s a restaurant not many tourists know on Rutledge called Lana
, sort of off the beaten path. Magnolia’s
is good, and then there’s a little Greek restaurant called Athens
, on James Island; very casual, pizza and Greek food, a fun little different place. Usually when I’m home, though, my favorite thing is Mom’s home cooking. She spoils me when I’m home; if I’m there five days, I might go out to eat once.
“I love Maurice’s Barbecue
. All the Bessingers’ places are so good. I have to admit, when I come home, at least once I’m going to one of the brothers’ BBQ places. Their sandwiches are the best in the world; no one compares to that in my opinion. I get the pulled pork sandwich, and it’s awesome. Growing up, every Saturday my parents would take me and my sister to Piggy Park for lunch. We’d sit in the car, have a sandwich, and it would melt in your mouth.”
What I do for fun:
“I do like to fish, though I don’t do much of that in South Carolina. And I don’t do a lot of boating there when I’m there. Mostly, it’s riding bikes around Charleston; that’s probably it. My sister kayaks, she and her son in the Ashley River, but I just like walking the dog, usually around Hampton Park, which is a nice place to walk; they’ve put in paths there. (Kayaking) in the harbor, that’s a little rough for me. Believe it or not, I grew up on the ocean but I’m not a water person really. Everyone finds that kind of strange, but I like looking at it, not being in it. It’s sort of like golf: I prefer dry ground.”