Major Flop: Players Who Don’t Deserve to be in the World Golf Hall of Fame

The World Golf Hall of Fame selection process has led to a few questionable decisions in the 20 years since the St. Augustine, Florida, golf shrine’s inception.

For example, widespread controversy surrounded Fred Couples’ 2012 HOF selection, leading to some revisions in the enshrinement process. Freddy Boom Boom, however, is not the only questionable Hall of Famer.

But to cast any stones at the WGHOF, you have to first understand the selection process itself.

The World Golf Hall of Fame says…

“The process is governed by a Selection Commission made up of 16 individuals who will be responsible for electing individuals into the Hall of Fame. To be inducted, an individual must receive approval from at least 75% of the Selection Commission [sub-committees vet and nominate players].”

The HOF has settled on four induction categories: Male and Female Competitor, Veterans, and Lifetime Achievement Categories.

The criteria for the four categories

Female Competitors

“A player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on any of the tours with membership in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings (LPGA, Ladies European Tour, Japan LPGA, Korea LPGA and Australia Ladies Professional Golf) OR at least two victories among the following events [list of prestigious events]”

“A player must be at least 50 years old at the start of the year in which selections are made (example: A player must have turned 50 years old prior to January 1, 2016 in order to qualify for the Class of 2017), or be at least five years removed from being an active participant (as determined by the Tour) on any of the tours with membership in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.”

Male Competitors

“A player must have a cumulative total of 15 or more official victories on any of the original members of the International Federation of PGA Tours OR at least two victories among the following events: The Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.”

“A player must be at least 50 years old at the start of the year in which selections are made (example: A player must have turned 50 years old prior to January 1, 2016 in order to qualify for the Class of 2017), or be at least five years removed from being an active participant (as determined by the Tour) on any of the original members of the International Federation of PGA Tours.”

Veterans Category

“To be considered for selection in the Veterans category a player’s competitive career must have primarily occurred prior to 1980. There is no minimum win criterion. Amateurs and professionals are eligible to be considered in the Veterans category.”

Lifetime Achievement Category

“To be considered for selection in the Lifetime Achievement category, an individual must have contributed to the game significantly in areas outside of the competitive arena (i.e. administrator, course architect, innovator, instructor, media, etc.).”

Now, it’s tough to have a problem with Veteran and Lifetime Achievement categories. Normally, those selections arise out of a strong consensus and in the fullness of history. Writers, broadcasters, promoters of the game—all are included in the Lifetime Achievement category. This is as it should be; no problems there.

Also, the World Golf Hall of Fame bumped the minimum age requirement from 40 to 50 and the voting percentage necessary for inclusion from 50 percent to 75 percent—all good decisions.

Noteworthy as well: The WGHOF has gotten it right with respect to all LPGA inclusions.

Every male golfer with three or more majors (who is not currently still playing), is included in the WGHOF. Every male golfer with 24 or more professional wins is included. Things get fuzzy (no pun intended, as Fuzzy Zoeller, persona non grata, is snubbed) for players with two majors or 23 or fewer wins.

Here are the two glaring errors in World Golf Hall of Fame inductions:

Fred Couples

15 PGA Tour wins but only one major victory, Couples made it into the Hall of Fame more thanks to his overwhelming popularity than being overwhelmingly deserving. This isn’t to say Couples never belongs in the HOF, but the dude just started his PGA Tour Champions career, why are we rushing him in there with Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, both of whom have many more PGA Tour wins and major championships? There are several golfers with between 15 and 20 wins from Tour history who belonged in the World Golf Hall of Fame before Couples.

There are several golfers with between 15 and 20 wins from Tour history who belonged in the World Golf Hall of Fame before Couples.

Colin Montgomerie

Yes, Colin Montgomerie has had a solid senior career. But how heavily should we weight senior play…unless you’re dominating the tour ala Bernhard Langer? While he has 31 European Tour wins, Monty never won on the PGA Tour. He never won a major championship.

He famously got just 51 percent of the vote…essentially leading to the change from 50 to 75 percent of the vote necessary for inclusion. Montgomerie absolutely doesn’t belong in the Hall. (Plus, he doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation)

Fortunately, the Hall of Fame has learned from these mistakes and the ensuing backlash and looks to have a process in place that will prevent future silliness.