The reaction to Stephen Ames being named to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame on Wednesday has been positive as it should be for a guy who won four times on the PGA Tour and contributed so much away from the golf course, as well. You can read more here.
So, discussion of the methodology used by the Hall of Fame is not an indictment of who did get in this year, but an observation about who didn’t make it. It’s an annual rite that happens most years, then goes away until the next inductee(s) are named the following year.
Several names have popped up in this year’s controversy, but the main sore point is the continued absence from the hall of four-time LPGA Tour winner Lorie Kane, which was called “long overdue” before Wednesday’s announcement was made.
It’s difficult to argue with that assessment. Like Ames, Kane turns 50 later this year and there’s no denying her credentials.
Oddly enough, one of the criticisms when Mike Weir was named to the hall back in 2009 was that it came too early despite the fact that he won the Masters, one of eight PGA Tour victories that contributed to a sure-fire entrance into the Hall of Fame, so why not put him in?
So Kane’s eventual induction is coming too late and Weir’s came too early. That’s the way it goes in Hall of Fame arguments.
Certainly, they are conflicting arguments with legitimate reasoning according to those who wage them, but they are spoken with passion that tends to peter out a week or so after the latest inductee(s) are named.
In Kane’s case, no nomination has ever been submitted for consideration by the selection committee, which is the way it works.
Years ago, controversy arose about the great Moe Norman not being in the hall. Many felt his absence was a put-down when in fact, nobody had nominated him, which is the beginning of a process that is explained every year on the teleconference that announces the inductees.
I mentioned both Kane and Ames as possible Hall of Fame candidates in this audio interview with Karen Hewson of the Hall of Fame two years ago, in which she explained the process once again and stressed the importance of people submitting nominations.
Over the years, I’ve made several nominations and according to his blog, Bob Weeks at ScoreGolf has done the same, although I have had discussions with some who believe it isn’t the media’s place, although I have yet to hear a good reason.
Weeks believes the selection committee should make nominations, which isn’t the case as it stands, but I’m not sure that would eliminate the controversies about who is and who isn’t in the hall.
Most of us would agree that Weir, Kane and Ames are slam dunks, but there are few of those.
A sure-fire bet in one person’s mind may be a marginal choice to somebody else, but every time you put one person in, his or her accomplishments become the standard by which future candidates are measured.
On-course accomplishments are more black and white than a player’s contributions in terms of charitable efforts or building the game.
Nominating somebody into the builders category can be subjective, as well. How do you measure their contributions? Should they be nominated if their greatest accomplishments came as part of their job? Then again, isn’t playing a tour pro’s job?
Is somebody’s contribution to golf been more regional in nature and therefore better-suited to a provincial hall of fame as opposed to the national hall?
There are a lot of questions that have different answers depending on who you’re talking to, but one thing is certain and that is that Hall of Fame selections will always be controversial, no matter what methodology is employed.
Personally, I like the fact that anybody can make a nomination, but maybe there is a need for an exception by which the selection committee can use its judgement in identifying standout candidates, but that too could be subject to criticism.
Accusations of bias towards friends and regions of this country are part of Hall of Fame nominations. Criticism, agreements and disagreements are part of the game and I have yet to see a process that can avoid that. It’s that way with Halls of Fame in every sport.
If there is one, I’m willing to listen, but like the nomination forms for some high-profile candidates, the case is likely to be forgotten until the next Hall of Fame announcement is made.