Over the past few months there has been quite a bit of criticism of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, in particular its rejection of the nomination of Geordie Hilton.
In Ontario, there has been some controversy about the consistency of the process regarding the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the World Golf Hall of Fame has had its share of newsworthy discussion,s as well.
Based on the hullabaloo stirred by each of the three situations, I decided to try to find out more about how each operates by studying the materials available to the public, information on the internet and an interview.
My interviews were all with staff as I felt I did not wish to put any particular selection committee person in a compromised position because of the sensitivity of the information used during the discussion process. The results of my efforts will appear over the next three weeks, including today.
In my opinion, it is important for people to participate or at least find out some facts when they feel one or both parties are acting dishonestly, unfairly or in a bullying manner.
Regarding the Geordie Hilton exercise, I empathize with the nominator in that I too believe Geordie gave and produced beyond the normal standard of expectation of his job description.
However, I also concede he rode a “perfect storm” of timing, circumstances and ability to complete his list of accomplishments.
This controversial discussion leads me to an investigation of the process followed the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame to start. I simply wanted to know more about how some people are inducted and some are rejected.
First, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame is part of the Canadian Golf Museum located on the grounds of Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ont. It is open to the general public and features a wide variety of fascinating golf historical articles, photos and memorabilia.
Included is a series of photographs depicting and honouring the careers and accomplishments of Canada’s foremost golf personalities. Inductees gain entry through one of three avenues: professional player, amateur player and builder (those who have contributed to the development and success of the game in some exceptional fashion).
The founding of the hall came in 1971 and it regularly considers new applications for induction without a limit on a per-year basis.
Superficially, one might surmise the players’ category to follow a very straightforward objective path – win certain events and you automatically qualify.
While this might suffice for admission in a lower profile arena, the broad spectrum of competitions available on a national and international basis is cause for detailed examination. In other words, it isn’t what did you win; the subject matter is who did you beat?
I began by studying the whole process.
Starting with the Golf Canada website, I opened the “About Us” file and found a roadblock to information. Under “Related Links,” I tried several options, but none of them provided me with information about the nomination process, the formation of the Selection Committee or the Policies/Procedures under which they operate.
Finally, after many unsuccessful attempts and some help, I tried Golf Canada, ‘About Us’ and then ‘Hall of Fame,’ where everything I was looking for appeared. It wasn’t as easy as I would have liked.
Once I arrived, I found there is the normal outline of mandate and duties designed to form the committee acting as an “Operating Committee of the Board of Directors”.
It is funded by Golf Canada, but no board member may sit on the selection committee because of a perception of position of conflict. The Committee reviews nominations and makes recommendations to the board for final approval.
The committee is comprised of 10 voting members, each serving a three-year term, and led by a chairperson recommended by the nominating committee.
The selection committee is comprised of 10 people from various sectors of golf who will be recommended by the nominating committee
I can and will say this: I found everyone and everything having anything to do with the appointment of the selection committee, the policies/procedures and the nomination process to be beyond reproach.
Their determination for fairness, dedication toward thorough, supporting research and their integrity is second to none. I found no evidence of sloppiness, favouritism, discrimination or inequality.
In fact, during one of my interviews with staff, I raised the issue of Moe Norman being excluded for induction for years beyond seeming eligibility. It was a case that festered for years throughout the golf community and in the media.
The answer was “He was never nominated.”
The nomination process is initiated by anyone wishing to do so. I might add the form is available on the internet and isn’t difficult to obtain.
Once a nomination is received, the nominator is notified if more information is needed and asked to take part in an interview prior to which staff will have researched the nomination for accuracy and other supporting documentation.
The nomination is then presented to the selection committee for review where it sustains two question sessions (these may be done by conference call).
Finally, it is presented before the selection committee in a live discussion and vote. Being inducted requires eight votes of the 10 members on the selection committee and then ratification by the board of directors of Golf Canada and vote at the AGM. It should be noted that the board has never turned down a recommended nomination.
A candidate’s name can remain for consideration for a limit of four repeats making a total of five considerations, but must receive a minimum of three votes of support to remain on the list.
When I asked about support material, the impact of letters from influential associates, the quality of work in the submission papers, photographs etc. I was surprised to hear how modestly they influenced the discussion.
Apparently, the selection committee prefers to rely more heavily on documented evidence and credible, verifiable accomplishments and merit rather than vocal back-up.
Part of the process includes notification to the nominator about the status of the nomination throughout it.
In response to the discussion that took place in the media over the past few months about the nomination of Geordie Hilton, I take comfort in knowing he was treated with dignity and respect. In fact, his name was presented several times, during which the selection committee added several new members as several completed their terms.
Geordie Hilton’s place is in the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame even though his accomplishments were more national than provincial.
Having seen the process up close and studied it, I am extremely happy for every inductee because each one of them deserves their place in the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
Many thanks to Karen Hewson of Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum.