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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The New World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Criteria

The World Golf Hall of Fame announced their new WGHoF induction standards on Sunday. We'll see the first results in May 2015.

Big names at the official announcement

Here are the new critieria:
  • Players will be inducted every other year, instead of every year as in the past.
  • A 20-member subcommittee will create a list of potential inductees, and a 16-member selection commission will make the final choices. That 16-member group will be headed by Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, and Annika Sorenstam -- all WGHoF members themselves.
  • Inductees must receive 75% of the selection commission's votes to gain entry.
  • Inductees will fall into 4 categories -- men, women, veterans and lifetime achievement.
  • Players need either 15 wins on approved tours (there are 6 of these for the men and 5 for the women) or 2 majors to be considered, and must be either 40 years old or retired for 5 years. (For the men, 2 PLAYERS Championships can substitute for the majors.)
This does simplify things considerably although not everyone is happy. For example, the media will have a lot less say-so over the inductions since very few of them will get a vote -- only 20 people choose candidates and only 16 people will vote on them. (I suspect many others will approve of this change.) Others say the age should have been raised to 45 or 50. (Gary Player stated rather bluntly that he would rather be alive to enjoy the induction ceremony!)

For the men, the standards have toughened somewhat -- from 10 wins to 15. And the combination of the 75% vote and two-year induction cycle should reduce the complaints, as when Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie (both worthy members) were inducted with a mere 51% of the vote... and they had the biggest part of the votes. Wins from the following tours count toward admission:
  • PGA Tour
  • European Tour
  • Japan Golf Tour
  • Sunshine Tour
  • Asian Tour
  • Australasian Tour
For the women, the standards are considerably reduced. When I heard the announcement, my first reaction was that Laura Davies is getting in next year. An interesting side note is that the LPGA will continue to use their own points-based criteria for the LPGA Hall of Fame, which is separate from the WGHoF. Randall Mell did a post at GolfTalkCentral listing several of the women who will now become eligible for the WGHoF under the new rules. Wins from the following tours count toward admission:
  • LPGA
  • LET
  • JLPGA
  • KLPGA
  • ALPG
Despite some of the reservations I've heard voiced over the last couple of days, I think the new criteria are good changes. It's about time that everybody was judged by the same measure, and the new rules are stiff enough to ensure that we don't end up with a mere popularity contest. And by allowing wins from several tours to count, international golfers have virtually the same eligibility opportunities as American golfers.

Alex Miceli at Golfweek has a detailed article about the changes here. (That's also where the photo came from.)

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