Why is the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida?
Golf Blog by the Mel Sole Golf School.
How many more visitors would the WGHOF get if it was in St. Andrews?
I’ve never understood Hall of Fame debates. It should be that rarest of black-and-white matters: a figure is or isn’t an icon of the sport. If you’re disputing an athlete’s merits, chances are they’re very, very good…but not great.And we don’t care about the very, very good. Hall of Fames should have the same mantra as Top Gun: for the best of the best.
This discussion surfaced following Zach Johnson’s British Open victory. To some, capturing the claret jug raised Johnson’s profile from “Oh yeah, he won a Masters, right?” to “This guy is an all-timer!”
Johnson’s win unquestionably puts him alongside unique company. But superstar status? Not to sound cruel, but no one has ever gone to a tournament because Zach Johnson’s in town.Ultimately, this discussion is rendered moot, as to reach the World Golf Hall of Fame, all one has to do is open the door.
Every athletic Hall of Fame is beleaguered to some degree.
Baseball hasn’t figured out how to evaluate its steroid era for hall admission, the Naismith center has battled financial trouble and the NFL’s HOF is located in Canton, Ohio. (And if you don’t understand why that’s problematic, you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio.)But these problems pale in comparisons to golf’s library of legends. The World Golf Hall of Fame has been around for nearly 40 years, yet holds little eminence or prestige within the game, let alone the sports world. While sound in concept, the execution has been extremely flawed.This issues range from low election standards (seen most recently with Colin Montgomerie’s induction in 2013) to it’s St. Augustine confines, which, although nice, is not synonymous with golf in the same manner that Cooperstown is with baseball.To be fair, the World Golf Hall of Fame is aware of such hurdles. Golf Digest’s own Ron Sirak, a member of the hall’s selection committee, addressed how they are going to tweak some of the issues going forward.However, the ailments are systematic and can’t be alleviated with quick fixes. The World Golf Hall of Fame, in perception and palpability, needs to be annihilated and started from scratch. Here’s our proposal to construct a workable World Golf Hall of Fame.
Raise the age barrier from 40 to 55
Basketball wouldn’t enshrine LeBron James into Springfield in the midst of his playing career, yet current golfers are routinely deified at St. Augustine. Once players reach the age of 40, they are eligible for induction, which is why Phil Mickelson has been in the hall since 2012.This honor should be celebrating a career, serving as the final chapter to one’s narrative in the sport. This shouldn’t happen while that story is still being composed. Moving the qualification age to 55 will give the ceremony more credence.Speaking of ceremonies…
Jim Nantz is the master of ceremonies, Dan Hicks is the studio host, and David Feherty works the interviews.
You can argue his virtues on the NFL or basketball, but when it comes to golf, Nantz’s aptitude as a historian, storyteller, moderator and announcer are unquestioned. Nantz is the rare media personality who can enhance an event with his presence, which is why his involvement is imperative.To me, Hicks is one of the more underrated sportscasters in the business. You always feel safe with him steering the wheel, and he’d be excellent at setting the table for this event. And my feeble words can’t paint the color of Feherty’s character. Just know that if we want to make this enjoyable, Feherty is a must for entertainment.
If you’re inducting someone, give them the proper travel arrangements.
This seems like a no-brainer, eh? I mean, what type of two-bit operation would bestow an honor upon someone without making sure they’d be in attendance?
Invoke a caste system.
Normally I don’t look to the British Empire’s 19th century colonialism for inspiration. Nevertheless, something feels inappropriate about the plaque of the aforementioned Monty – he of zero majors – residing next to Old Tom Morris.I do think there’s a place for guys like Curtis Strange or David Graham, but they should be in an entrance-level exhibit. As you go further into the Hall of Fame, you hit another echelon of players, names likes Mickelson, Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros. At the Hall of Fame’s core reside the immortals: Jones, Nicklaus, Hogan, Palmer, etc.This configuration has a two-fold purpose, serving as an educational tool to the museum’s entrants while properly slotting the game’s greats into context.
Fix the locker room exhibit.
This suggestion is strictly for my dad. We visited St. Augustine some years back, and as an avid club collector. He found the locker room showcase intrigueing, a display featuring the bags and tools of the HOF members.The bubble instantly burst. Instead of seeing Nicklaus’ MacGregor sticks or Palmer’s Wilson Staff instruments, their designated areas were filled with present-day gear, featuring Nicklaus’ personal brand and Calloway’s new clubs in Palmer’s locker. I hadn’t seen the man so crestfallen since he found out I was taking a basketball class as a college course. So I’l ask the question again. Why is the World Golf Hall of Fame in Florida? Let’s get things moving. In the right direction!
The Hall of Fame is a museum, not an advertising platform. It should present itself as such.
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