A closed shop for the Hall of Fame

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2014 at 3:16 pm •  Published: March 25, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — 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).

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