Voting for the Hall of Fame now in the right hands?

By Doug FergusonMarch 25, 2014, 9:49 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – No one should have been more thrilled than Vijay Singh to hear about the voting changes for the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Singh is already in.

He was elected in 2005 with 56 percent of the vote from a panel that consisted mainly of golf writers, most of whom the big Fijian had blown off over the years. By then, Singh had 25 PGA Tour victories, three majors, two PGA Tour money titles and one Jack Nicklaus Award as player of the year. He is among the greats in the game.

In sweeping changes announced Sunday, a 16-member panel with a majority of golf administrators now decides who gets in the Hall of Fame. Imagine them debating the merits of a guy who has an active and very acrimonious lawsuit against the PGA Tour over its anti-doping policy.

''We liked the old system,'' PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''But we like this one better.''

That would suggest the old system was working fine. And if something isn't broken, did it really need to be fixed?

What was wrong with the old system had nothing to do with who voted, and everything to do with who attended the induction ceremony, which now will be every other year. At recent ceremonies, the chatter was increasingly louder about how few Hall of Fame members bothered to show up.

Last May, only eight members were there, all of them women. That wasn't a surprise. The LPGA Hall of Fame, which existed before it was morphed into the World Golf Hall of Fame, was seen as the highest honor for its players. The men care more about green jackets and claret jugs than a plaque and a concrete slab with their signature on the walkway at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine.

Here's how the voting process works now:

A 20-member subcommittee will meet this spring to nominate five male and five female players, along with three people from the Veterans and Lifetime Achievement categories. Twelve of those 20 committee members are administrators, which includes the Ryder Cup director for Europe, the head of public services for the USGA, the communications director of the PGA of America and the vice chairman of IMG. Six are Hall of Fame members. Two are writers.

The nominations go to the 16-member panel that will ''discuss the merits and vote.'' A candidate has to receive 75 percent (12 votes), and there can be no more than five members of an induction class.

The co-chairs of that panel are Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. So that's four people who will be expected at the next induction ceremony in May 2015, along with the six Hall of Famers from the nominating panel (Curtis Strange, Johnny Miller, Karrie Webb, Carol Mann, Beth Daniel and Peter Alliss).

The rest of the voting panel includes the heads of the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, PGA of America, The Masters, the USGA, the R&A, the Japan LPGA and the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. They are joined by three writers.

No one understands greatness like a player. All of them on both panels were good choices.

Missing from the process is the independent voice of the writers. That's how it works in baseball and football, the best two shrines in sports. The explanation from Jack Peter, the chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was bordering on offensive, if not ridiculous.

''We believe it puts the decision-making of who gets into the Hall of Fame in the right hands – individuals who know the history of the game, have a passion for the game, who know the players, who understand the qualities that make up a Hall of Famer,'' he said.

Some of the administrators – maybe even most of them – have a greater appreciation and sense of history than some writers who once had a ballot. But, for the most part, they're not in the business of chronicling the game, but to make money off it.

The induction ceremony long ago became more about a celebration of golf than a celebration of greatness when it lowered the minimum vote required for election from 75 percent to 65 percent, and then created a loophole that said if no one received 65 percent, whoever had the most votes over 50 percent would get in.

Peter said the previous voting body of 300 people was getting ''a bit unwieldy.'' He also said the media landscape was changing (true) and that writers were under pressure to cover other sports. That would suggest that Dan Jenkins, inducted two years ago, has never covered a college football game.

The solution would have been simple. If there are minimum requirements for players to be nominated (15 wins or two majors), there could easily have been a minimum requirement for writers. For example, they would get a ballot only if they covered 250 tournaments or 50 majors.

Golf writers now have been minimized. There was little, if any, consultation over the changes.

It should be noted that the World Golf Foundation board – which now has seven of the 16 votes – once was in charge of the Lifetime Achievement category. They selected former President George H.W. Bush, presumably because he was honorary chairman of The First Tee and the Presidents Cup. He loved golf, and he was known to play it quickly.

And voting for the Hall of Fame is now in the right hands?

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'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement back when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

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Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

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'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

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Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”