Randall Mell takes the World Golf Hall of Fame to task for not doing more to get Laura Davies from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to the ceremony Monday at St. Andrews.
Davies chose to play in the U.S. Women's Open last week instead of getting to St. Andrews in time to speak at Younger Hall, but Mell says "many women who love the game of golf felt the sting" when her flight ran into mechanical issues and then a protest in London. Mell says the Hall did not do enough in advance to ensure Davies was present and attempts to dispel rumors that Davies was fearful of coming due to dyslexia issues making speeches difficult.
This was about a lot of women seeing that the game is still run by men who aren’t as committed to diversity and inclusivity as they profess to be. That’s what Davies’ empty chair screamed during the induction ceremony.
Yes, women have made a lot of meaningful progress in the game, but somebody ought to put Davies’ empty seat in a display case in the Hall of Fame because it tells the story about women’s still ongoing struggle to find their place in the sport.
Beth Daniel, Patty Sheehan, Karrie Webb and Meg Mallon were among Hall of Famers offended that the induction took place without Davies.
As for her reported fear of speaking issues...
Yes, after Davies made the cut Friday at the U.S. Women’s Open, she told reporters she isn’t comfortable giving speeches in formal settings. She even said she has issues with dyslexia.
“They were going to make me write a speech, but that would be a fiasco if I tried to read it,” Davies said.
But Davies also told us she had already mapped out talking points and would be totally prepared to ad lib her speech. While Davies acknowledged she would be racing the clock Sunday, she sounded genuinely honored to be headed to St. Andrews for the induction.
Davies was scheduled to receive an award at Tuesday's Association of Golf Writers dinner last night and cancelled with two hours notice for an event that had been nine months in the planning stages.
There were a lot of empty chairs at the ceremonies in St. Augustine because so many men didn’t care to show up. There was one empty chair in the ceremony in St. Andrews, but every woman who cares about golf noticed. That’s because they care deeply about a game they wished cared more about them.
I think we all want to see the women's game get its due, I'm just not sure this is the watershed moment that proves how women are slighted. The person in question is deserving of being in the Hall of Fame and deserving of having her place there remembered for her golfing accomplishments. Using the inability of the Hall to get her to St. Andrews for a ceremony will not engender much sympathy, especially as the particulars are murky, strange and probably just unlucky.
**Garry Smits comments on the situation (second quote) but first, he included this quote from Davies' Monday conference call.
"First of all, a massive apology for not being there today. Obviously something I really did not want to miss, but circumstances have put us in this position. And to the Hall of Fame people ... I like to be the center of attention on the course, not off the course, but they've made things easy for me. I went to see the Hall of Fame. I think it's the first time I really appreciated how important the whole thing was."
And Smits says...
I can assure you that World Golf Hall of Fame chief operating officer Jack Peter and other HOF officials most certainly did care, and have for years. They have tried to get Davies to accept membership through the Veterans Category, but Davies resisted, wanting to make it on the LPGA points system. She's two points short but got it through the revised nominating and voting process and finally accepted.