The World Golf Hall of Fame moved its biennial ceremony to St. Andrews University in hopes of extending its worldwide reach and luring more former inductees to attend. They were successful on point one, not-so-fortunate on the latter.
A dizzying number of Hall of Famer's in town for The Open could not be bothered to make the grueling trek up North Street from the Old Course Hotel to welcome Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O'Meara and A.W. Tillinghast into golf's most exclusive club, even though Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Peter Thomson managed to come from long distances at less-than-spry ages to attend. Among the notables who are in the Hall but could not be bothered to slap on a coat and tie for 90 minutes and make the short commute: Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Nick Price. (Price was at least enjoying a pint amongst the people at the Dunvegan along another Open Champion, Justin Leonard). Also unable to show some support for old pal "Marko" O'Meara was Tiger Woods. O'Meara's introductory induction to Dave Marr III, who handled the job with dignity.
David Graham spoke eloquently of his childhood and thanked a wide array of friends and family who supported his career, including his hero Thomson. John Hopkins introduced Tillinghast, whose induction was supported for a stupendously poor video anchored by thoughts on the man's work from PGA Tour players Harris English and David Toms. One of the most interesting lives lived in golf--a visual smorgasbord of art, letters, lore and architectural vision--was summed up by PGA Tour journeymen. Once again, a great life lived in golf is point missed on a breathtaking stage. Sad, but not unprecedented.
Meanwhile the videos supporting the players featured rich recollections of their lives and playing days, with archive highlight reels supporting those entering the WGHOF at historic Younger Hall. While Laura Davies was not able to make it in time from the U.S. Women's Open to accept, her induction by former LPGA Commissioner Charlie Meacham and backup video thank you sufficed, while Mark O'Meara finished off the night with a heartfelt speech that dutifully filled some of the time left open by Davies' absence.
The ceremony moved well, with nice acknowledgements of the former Hall members in attendance, only to be interrupted by the apparent necessity to introduce every golf administrator in attendance. That was time better spent celebrating the legacy of Younger Hall or golf's ties to St. Andrews inductees like Old Tom Morris and Allan Robertson. The St. Andrews portion of the evening was covered in a nice but small way by University Principal Louise Richardson in a speech before the live broadcast began. You may recall Ms. Richardson is the first St Andrews University Principal not invited to join the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews for reasons that could be chalked up to her being of a certain gender.
The evening offered peaks into why the World Golf Hall of Fame matters and a few too many glimpses into why the hall continues to struggle to ascend to a higher level.
And for those of you keeping score at home, the Hall members who made the trip (anyone who attended seeing a missing name please let me know):
Pat Bradley (accompanied by nephew Keegan Bradley)
Sir Michael Bonallack
Laura Davies (reception)
A few scenes from the evening: