Re-Working the Rules of the Hall of Fame

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
There are few better sports discussions between friends than one which involves the Hall of Fame ' particularly when the debate takes place after closing time.
 
This past week, the World Golf Hall of Fame released its PGA TOUR ballot for 2007. There were 20 candidates from which to choose, including lone newcomer David Toms.
 
David Toms
David Toms is up for Hall of Fame election for the first time.
The criteria for being on this list: minimum of 40 years old; PGA TOUR member for 10 years; 10 PGA TOUR wins or two wins in the majors or PLAYERS Championship.
 
A few of these criterions need adjustment.
 
First of all, while retirement doesnt factor into golf the same way that it does in other sports, the Champions Tour should be a barometer for minimum age requirement to qualify for the Hall of Fame.
 
Forty is way too young an age to make someone eligible, particularly with how well this age group has performed on TOUR the past decade. Fifty would make much more sense.
 
Being a TOUR member for 10 years is fine; but is winning 10 times on TOUR or winning a couple of majors worth consideration?
 
At first, I thought not. But then I did some research and found that only 97 players (according to The Sports Network) have won at least 10 career PGA TOUR events. Not a huge number when you consider the thousands and thousands of players who have competed on TOUR over the years.
 
My initial thinking was that a player should have to win at least 15 or maybe even 20 events to make the ballot ' but then it was pointed out to me, in one of those friendly discussions, that there is a huge difference between eligibility and initiation.
 
I, a fairly open-minded individual, have now altered my opinion. And I have also changed my way of thinking about a player only having to win two majors to be eligible (I initially thought that number was a little low as well).
 
Only 74 men have won multiple major championships, compared to 117 who have won just one (according to wikipedia.org).
 
Winning two might not be worth getting you into the Hall, but its worth consideration.
 
Its good that golf has some sort of criteria in regards to accomplishment. In other sports, like baseball or football, eligibility is based solely on service and period of retirement.
 
That leads to Walt Weiss and Gary DiSarcina being on the latest MLB ballot, which is like having Woody Austin and Neal Lancaster on the TOUR version.
 
Aside from the age minimum, there are two other things I would change in regards to the PGA TOURs Hall of Fame requirements.
 
One, the fact that winning a PLAYERS Championship carries the same weight as winning a major championship. I realize that this is the PGA TOUR ballot and theyll do just about anything to place their darling tournament on equal ground with the four majors.
 
But, enough already. Its a wonderful event. The fifth best tournament an individual can win. But its not a major. It's ... not ... a ... major.
 
The other thing is the fact that someone seemingly must be elected each year.
 
According to the rules, In the event that no candidate receives 65%, the nominee receiving the most votes with at least 50% is elected.
 
Say what?
 
This is how Vijay Singh got elected a couple of years ago, which was ridiculous on two fronts. In the first place, Singh, whether or not he passes the jerk test, is Hall of Fame worthy and should have easily made it ' based on the criteria. Granted, he should be well past his prime and at least 50 years old before he gets in, but thats not the rule.
 
But if he didnt receive the necessary 65 percent for admittance, then he shouldnt be admitted.
 
From 1996-2000, you needed 75 percent of the returned ballots to make it in. From 2001-2003, you needed at least 65 percent. Since 2004, you can get in with just 50 percent if nobody else gets more than you.
 
Being a legend has never been easier.
 
Halls of Fame should be difficult to get into. You cant anoint ultimate greatness on an athlete just because you want to throw a ceremony and make a few bucks. Thats absurd.
 
The election of Singh raises another concern in relation to Hall of Fame voting: Should there be voters or should there be an unbiased points system?
 
The LPGA uses a points system based on accomplishment. You have to reach a certain point total (27) ' based on major wins (2 points), regular tournament victories (1), scoring titles (1), and Player of the Year awards (1) ' to be elected into the Hall. You also must have made at least 10 starts in each of 10 years on tour.
 
Before 1999, LPGA players had to win 30 tournaments, including two majors; 35 tournaments with one major; or 40 events and no majors to automatically qualify.
 
Obviously, the LPGA has eased its policy, but its still tougher for an LPGA player to get into the Hall than it is for a PGA TOUR player.
 
If you applied the current LPGA points system to the PGA TOUR, several of the men who are already in would be out, and all but one of those on the current ballot wouldnt be eligible.
 
That lone person would be Henry Picard. Picard, who received 53 percent of the vote in 2006, while Larry Nelson got 65 percent, would have a total of at least 28 points, based on his 26 TOUR wins and two majors.
 
Macdonald Smith would have 24; Curtis Strange, who got 50 percent of the vote last year, would have 23 points. So, too, would Craig Wood (37%) and Lanny Wadkins (34%).
 
Davis Love III would have 20 points. Fred Couples and Mark OMeara would have 19 (if you apply the PGA Player of the Year, which dates back longer, as well as the PGA TOUR Player of the Year).
 
Singh would have 36 points (and counting), but many of his fellow recent inductees would come up short. Greg Norman would have 26; Nick Price 25; Tom Kite 23; Ben Crenshaw 21; Payne Stewart 14; Larry Nelson 13.
 
Of todays crop of players who will one day be eligible under the PGA TOUR rules, only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson currently have enough points using the LPGA system to gain admittance. Mickelson would have 30 points. Tiger 81 (Is there a Super Hall of Fame?).
 
Of course, guys like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen can get in through either the PGA TOUR or International balloting.
 
A points system certainly takes out bias, but it doesnt account for human reasoning. Sports are more than just an accruement of numbers, and you need individual judgment from those associated with the game.
 
Norman might have come up one point short on the LPGA system, but anyone who covered or followed golf throughout the '80s and '90s knows that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
 
Plus, Norman would probably go Bruce Banner on everyone if he endured one more near-miss.
 
The PGA TOUR Voting Body is comprised of golf journalists, historians and golf dignitaries.
 
I do not get a vote. But if I did, this is how I would cast my ballot.
 
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
 
Related Links:
  • Baggs Check: Casting My 2007 Hall of Fame Ballot
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.