PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - On a night of celebration, one of the embarrassing moments at the World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony was early in the program, when Hall of Fame members in attendance were recognized. The introductions didn’t take very long.
There were only eight of them, all women.
“Getting players to come back has always been a bit of a challenge over the years,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “It does raise a question in my mind about whether this is the best time of the year to do it.”
Back in 1998, the inaugural induction at the World Golf Village was held in May. The ceremony also has been in the late fall. It has been indoors and outdoors. Finchem had to be persuaded to move it to the week of The Players Championship, fearing it would detract from the tournament.
Whenever or wherever, it’s not working.
Here’s one suggestion. The PGA Tour should consider working with IMG (along with title sponsor PNC Bank) and move the Father-Son Challenge from Orlando to north Florida near the Hall of Fame. The tournament is for fathers who have won major championships, such a long list that the Father-Son often has an alternate list. Make the Hall of Fame induction ceremony the centerpiece of that week, and it’s sure to be a big night.
Attendance isn’t the only thing under review.
One element of the Hall of Fame that becomes confusing is players being inducted in the prime of their careers. The minimum age to get on the ballot is 40. Phil Mickelson was inducted when he was 41, and he has won twice more since then. Ernie Els won a fourth major after his induction.
Golf is a game to play forever, but why wasn’t the age set at 50, the same age when players are eligible for the Champions Tour? Why 40?
“I don’t really remember why,” Finchem said. “It seemed to be the thing to at that point in time for whatever we were looking at.”
He said the minimum age has been discussed in the last couple of years, and “it’s currently under discussion.”
There’s also the matter of having a PGA Tour ballot for the “World” Golf Hall of Fame. It sends a subtle message that this really is about the PGA Tour. International players get their own ballot.
“I think it’s timely to take a look at everything we’re doing and take a fresh look,” Finchem said. “We haven’t done that in several years.”
WORLD CUP: Rory McIlroy said two weeks ago he would not be playing in the World Cup of Golf this year. There is speculation that if he were to represent Ireland at the World Cup, he would be have no choice but to play under the Irish flag in the 2016 Olympics.