Legitimacy Of World Golf Hall Of Fame Questioned

The World Golf Hall of Fame has come under fire in recent days following a report from Reuters in which the World Golf Foundation chief executive Steve Mona said that the popularity of players is weighed into their induction criteria.

“(Inclusion) not just strictly (based) on playing record,” said Mona, who oversees the Hall of Fame. “The Fame element is part of it. Some people were just more popular than others when they were on Tour.”

The ire was drawn not because of who was announced as members of the Class of 2019 — Retief Goosen, Peggy Kirk Bell, Billy Payne, Dennis Walters and Jan Stephenson — but who was left out, specifically British Open champions Tony Lema and Tom Weiskopf. 

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

Golf historian Bill Mallon disagreed, telling Reuters, “I think both Weiskopf and Lema are two marginal candidates, although both are two of my favorite players. Of the two, I think Weiskopf has a better resume for inclusion but that is certainly only because of the plane crash (that killed Lema). Not sure how the voters would figure that in.”

Geoff Shackelford called into question the legitimacy of the WGHOF, calling its induction criteria “a sham.”

“There may need to be questions about the legitimacy of the entire World Golf Foundation after its CEO admitted on the record that the Hall is a popularity contest for the selection committee,” Shackelford wrote. “There you have it. A popularity contest. On the record. It’s cronyism gone public.”

The current selection criteria requires a 75% approval vote from the 16 selection commission. Until four years ago, the criteria was a 50% approval from over 300 voters.

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