I’ve never understood Hall of Fame debates. It should be that rarest of black-and-white matters: a figure is or isn’t an icon of the sport. If you’re disputing an athlete’s merits, chances are they’re very, very good…but not great.
And we don’t care about the very, very good. Hall of Fames should have the same mantra as Top Gun: for the best of the best.
This discussion has surfaced following Zach Johnson’s British Open victory. To some, capturing the claret jug raised Johnson’s profile from “Oh yeah, he won a Masters, right?” to “This guy is an all-timer!”
Johnson’s win unquestionably puts him alongside unique company. But superstar status? Not to sound cruel, but no one has ever gone to a tournament because Zach Johnson’s in town.
Ultimately, this discussion is rendered moot, as to reach the World Golf Hall of Fame, all one has to do is open the door.
Every athletic Hall of Fame is beleaguered to some degree. Baseball hasn’t figured out how to evaluate its steroid era for hall admission, the Naismith center has battled financial trouble and the NFL’s HOF is located in Canton, Ohio. (And if you don’t understand why that’s problematic, you’ve never been to Canton, Ohio.)
But these problems pale in comparisons to golf’s library of legends.
The World Golf Hall of Fame has been around for nearly 40 years, yet holds little eminence or prestige within the game, let alone the sports world. While sound in concept, the execution has been extremely flawed.
This issues range from low election standards (seen most recently with Colin Montgomerie’s induction in 2013) to it’s St. Augustine confines, which, although nice, is not synonymous with golf in the same manner that Cooperstown is with baseball.
To be fair, the World Golf Hall of Fame is aware of such hurdles. Golf Digest’s own Ron Sirak, a member of the hall’s selection committee, addressed how they are going to tweak some of the issues going forward.
However, the ailments are systematic and can’t be alleviated with quick fixes. The World Golf Hall of Fame, in perception and palpability, needs to be annihilated and started from scratch. Here’s our proposal to construct a workable World Golf Hall of Fame.