That’s the question I’ve grappled with on the news of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s latest induction class announced today.
The short answer to the above question is a simple, lamentable and painful yes.
This is not a reflection on the current class, all fine contributors to the game who at various times were, are or will be worthy inductees at Pebble Beach next year. The problem lies in the increasingly clubby edge to who does get inducted. I’ve grown bored with the blatant, almost incomprehensible disregard for anyone who might have contributed to the game prior to 1990. Or, anyone who might have crossed former the long list of executives and former players whose feathers are easily ruffled.
Because, heaven forbid, someone designed a bunch of brilliant courses, wrote profound books that documented the game’s charms or broke ground in the instruction world. Those core professions vital to “growing the game” mean nothing to golf’s Hall of Fame. Remember, this group only took A.W. Tillinghast after much kicking and screaming, then inducted him with tributes from esteemed historian Harris English and other tour players. A man who gave his life to the game on multiple fronts, who had more golfing soul than most of the Hall members combined, and continues to influence the sport decades after his passing, could barely get in the Hall.
A long list of visionaries, revolutionaries and dreamers who gave their life to the sport has been shunned by the Hall either due to ignorance, politics or the laziness of not grasping how those people influenced the sport. The structure of the Hall also does not help recognize anyone outside of players. Sheer ignorance of what it means to contribute to the sport claims plenty of other victims, too.
Due to inevitable comparisons, many inductees often get unfairly seen as unworthy given how many of their equally worthy predecessors have been overlooked.
Which is why, like most of today’s top players and some of the committee types listed on the selection profess page who have blown off Hall ceremonies even when they were within blocks of the induction, it’s time to start ignoring the World Golf Hall of Fame. Given its already tenuous place in the sport, this won’t be difficult.