World Golf Hall selection committee weighs fame as well as success

A Hall of Fame flag outside the World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images) Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

World Golf Hall selection committee weighs fame as well as success

Golf

World Golf Hall selection committee weighs fame as well as success

The selection process for the World Golf Hall of Fame is not based solely on a player’s on-course success, says the body’s chief executive in the wake of  criticism that some of the game’s most successful players have yet to be inducted.

“The Fame element is part of it. Some people were just more popular than others when they were on tour,” Steve Mona told Reuters. “It’s not just strictly (based) on playing record,”

The Hall’s 2019 inductees were named earlier this month.

They are two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen, LPGA legends Peggy Kirk Bell and Jan Stephenson, former Masters chairman Billy Payne and paralyzed golf instructor Dennis Walters.

All are worthy of induction, but it was the names not on the list this year, including Tom Weiskopf and Tony Lema, that triggered criticism, along with the time lag it takes to include those who are worthy.

Peggy Kirk Bell, for example, died two years ago at the age of 95.

“I did my curmudgeonly best not to let my blood boil when I read the list of Hall Of Fame inductees for 2019,” tweeted Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

The selection of five people occurs every other year and is very much subjective. A group of 16 chooses the inductees. It includes Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez. Inductees must receive 75 percent of the vote.

Mona said Lema could be a nominee again in the future.

“I would say people who are deserving over time get in because we have this veterans category for people who are missed at some point,” Mona told Reuters.

“I can’t make predictions but the window has not closed on Tony Lema or Tom Weiskopf.”

Lema was an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour in the U.S. and captured the 1964 British Open. He was 32 when he died in a 1966 plane crash.

A renown course architect, Weiskopf won 16 PGA Tour titles, including the 1973 British Open.

Mona is happy there is a not strict “black and white” selection criteria.

In the past, more than 300 people voted and induction required a simple majority of the panel voters.

“The process is superior to what we had previously,” he said. “I think the debate is healthy.”

Goosen and Stephenson were selected as male and female competitors. Bell, Payne and Walters earned Hall entry through the lifetime achievement category. The 15 finalists this year included Corey Pavin, Hal Sutton, Dottie Pepper  and Calvin Peete.

The induction ceremony will take place on Monday of U.S. Open week – June 10, 2019 – at Pebble Beach.

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