No World Golf Hall of Fame induction in 2014
“Golf’s highest honor” won’t be awarded in 2014.
“In fairness to the process,” the Hall announced today the cancellation of the 2014 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The World Golf Hall of Fame released a brief statement explaining that its board of directors, which oversees the St. Augustine, Fla., shrine, instructed the Hall of Fame to conduct a comprehensive review of the five current avenues of induction, plus the presentation of the ceremony.
“I think it’s time,” said Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame. “Hitting the reset button is an overused phrase but with 15 years of history, we’ve learned a lot and so the board said, ‘Let’s look at all this.’ ”
At The Players Championship, days after not a single male Hall member attended the May 6 ceremony on the Monday evening of tournament week, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was unusually candid, saying, “We’re going to take a look at everything.”
That should include the age of eligibility (currently 40) to separate ballots for PGA Tour and International players to the percentage of the vote required for admittance (65 percent unless no one receives that much, in which case the next highest vote-getter over 50 percent is admitted). In all, there are five avenues of induction and the LPGA has its own criteria. Admittance through the lifetime and veteran’s category have been called into question because of the many conflicts of interest that exist among the eight-person board that has final say. The date of the ceremony and location are also under consideration.
By this time a year ago, two of the inductees for enshrinement had already received their Hall call. Ballots were sent on June 25 and due July 27. On Sept. 19, the news of Fred Couples election was announced, and it will be a year ago tomorrow that Ken Venturi finally got a call from Finchem with the good news.
Peter said the strategic review began shortly after the induction ceremony in May, and the announcement was held until after the FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup were completed. So what’s taking so long?
The process of electing and selecting inductees and planning the ceremony takes several months and includes the coordination of the game’s professional tours, governing bodies and allied organizations, the Hall said.
“There’s a lot of moving parts and the timeline didn’t allow to do all that work,” Peter said.
Although the next board meeting isn’t scheduled at this time, Peter said the review is expected to be completed in early 2014.
As a result, this will be the second time since 2010 – when the Hall shifted from a fall date to the Monday of The Players in May – that no ceremony will be held. When asked if the ceremony’s postponement was a financial decision, Peter said, “Not at all.”
But it will certainly make for a significant savings to the bottom line. The Induction Ceremony is listed under expenses, totaling $360,137 on the World Golf Foundation’s form 990 from 2011.
A reassessment of the criteria is long overdue, especially among growing cries of an increasingly watered down membership. Canceling the ceremony for 2014 is tacit admission that allowing Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie to enter the Hall of Fame with only 50 percent of the vote has tarnished its credibility.
“I don’t think the process is broken,” Peter said. “It’s at the heart of what we do and it’s just time to take a look at it. Stay tuned. We’ll have more to talk about.”