Skip to main content

Time is now for change to Hall of Fame criteria

Colin Montgomerie
Getty Images

'No he shouldn't, yes he should.'

'The guy never won one stinking Freeport-McMoran/McDermott/Compaq/USFG/HP/Zurich Classic of New Orleans for crying out loud.'

'Yeah, but he was a horse on those Ryder Cup teams and has all those merit badges or whatever they call them.'

For the past two days you have heard some incarnation of those refrains from golf geeks around the world on the news of the inclusion of Colin Montgomerie in the 2013 class of the World Golf Hall of Fame. It is equal parts the sometimes myopic viewpoint of the American golf fan, the MAJOR hole in Monty's resume, zero wins on the best tour in the world, and, oh by the way, Monty himself. Only Monty could divide the golf world without striking a shot. Yet I believe he has struck a chord that could change the Hall of Fame criteria forever ... to no criteria.

Sobel: Monty Hall of Fame worthy even without a major

I'm not going to go all Mac O'Grady on you with some abstract theories but I think it is time for the Hall to examine the idea of eliminating baseline achievement for enshrinement and count on only two components to the voting process. 

First, under no circumstance should anyone walk through those doors for induction without 60 percent of the votes on the ballot. Currently, if no one receives 65 percent anyone over 50 percent gets in and that simply isn't Hall worthy. This isn't election to the 5th District in North Dakota. 

Second, and most important, the voters should be required to show total transparency. This is a privilege that should not be taken lightly and under a system without baseline criteria you must be required to explain your position. If the Hall gives you the vote, you must be trusted to make sound decisions. If not, re-examine who is doing the voting. For those who will scream that no criteria will create total chaos I would point to every other hall of fame (except the LPGA's). Outside of removal from the game for a certain number of years there are no benchmarks that players must hit for eligibility. Many things about golf are not analogous to other sports but in this case it most certainly is and leave it up to the voters to know, or at least feel, when it's time for a player to take his place in St. Augustine.

It's simple people, it's called BOLD TYPE. Any sports fan looks at certain achievements in other sports and knows what a bullet point is for a Hall of Fame resume. The time is now for the Hall to overhaul a system that confuses some, annoys others, and most importantly makes you wonder if they're doing it right. The game is played with tremendous value outside of majors placed on World Golf Championships, playoffs, FedEx Cup titles, Race to Dubai wins, Ryder Cup records and an international schedule that allows the best in the world to play when and where they want virtually every week of the year. Why have an international ballot? They're all international players now; let the voters decide each year who has the bold type to warrant consideration and possible enshrinement. 

The Tour loves selling the show of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to kick off Players week. Guess what, this isn't the ESPYs. Golf has more history than baseball, football, and basketball and if you don't have a large class or any class, I'll sign up for a night of hearing Dan Jenkins, Peter Alliss and Lee Trevino stories. And shame on the voting body if they can't identify at least one member each year out of the lifetime achievement category. May I submit A.W. Tillinghast for the class of 2014 right now. 

Debate is healthy; it allows writers who sadly are losing jobs at an alarming rate to do what they do best, opine. This is not math, it is golf. Majors change and define careers and they always will but how long, how many and how old are just that ... OLD. Let the voters exercise their minds and souls and let them determine their own criteria. Leave it to Monty to create another stink.