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Ryder Cup records should carry ZERO weight in the new HOF criteria

October 14th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Who knows exactly why the golf’s Hall of Fame cancelled the 2014 ceremony, but many would point to Ray Floyd as the driving force behind the time out. According to golf.com, Floyd said “the bar has been lowered”, and “it’s not fair to the people who went in early” in reference to some recent inductees, including Fred Couples (1 major), Colin Montgomerie (0 majors) and, I suspect, a whole bunch more.

Since the HOF committee is taking some time to review the criteria, I thought I would give them a hand. My first homework assignment was to read Sunday’s Golf.com Confidential to see what the “experts” had to say, knowing that if they had an argument to make, the opposite was most likely true.

Gary Van Sickle led off by saying he favors “a points system factoring in wins, majors, and Ryder Cup appearances.” Majors, of course. Wins – he needs to be far more specific. Appearances in Ryder Cup? Does that mean just making it onto the team, or your record in the matches? Either way, it doesn’t matter because the Ryder Cup is an overhyped exhibition that does not belong in the criteria for the HOF for the simple reason that the Americans and Europeans are the only ones that get to pad their resumes with the cup.

The Internationals get to play in the Presidents Cup – but it has about 10% of the pizazz and spirit of the Ryder Cup. Besides, if we count these cups, the Americans, who are eligible to play in one every year, have twice the number of chances to pull off some history making moment as do the Euros and the Internationals.

And one other thing – in a regular tournament there is a level playing field (more or less, depending on weather and the draw) on which to compete. In the Ryder Cup, your record is subject to your playing partners’ games’, and to the players you draw in both team and singles matches. The verdict: no way should the Ryder Cup, or any other cups, figure in selecting players for the HOF.

Commentator #2 was Michael Bamberger who said, “Fred Couples’ senior career is making him a more legitimate Hall of Famer.” Excuse me, but what has senior golf got to so with the real McCoy! If a player couldn’t establish their credentials for the HOF during their days in the big leagues, which last more than 20 years, then they certainly shouldn’t get second chance on a minor league tour for has beens that few even care about.

Joe Paaov incorrectly seconded Bamberger’s motion, saying “Champions Tour records should be included, where relevant.” The trouble is that on the senior tour is a 2, at best, on the 1-10 relevancy scale. Want proof? List this year’s five senior majors in order, and who won them? You can’t, and neither can I, because all the old guys are doing is making money, not history.

I can go on and on about the criteria for the HOF but, at least for today, I hopefully have settled the matter on Cup records and Champions Tour performances: they should carry zero weight when determining if a player should become a member of golf’s HOF.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 BD // Oct 22, 2013 at 8:34 am

    The best model for how a HoF should operate is baseball’s. There shouldn’t be any strict, formalized criteria. Induction should be left to the broad discretion of the voters, taking into account a player’s overall career.

    Under that kind of system, it’s possible for a player like Colin Montgomery to get on the basis of an exceptional Ryder Cup career but no majors, but that would and should be a rare case.

    The RC may be overhyped, but then so are the majors. That the RC is overhyped is not a reason to discount it completely. Certain events in golf are more important than others, but this is true only because the players traditionally TREAT them as being more important. It just so happens that The Masters is a much bigger deal than the John Deere Classic. It’s basically arbitrary that a win at Augusta is career-defining while a win at the John Deere is just another event.

    For whatever reason, the RC is one of our “big deal” events and success in the RC is, to some extent, career defining. So, a player’s RC career certainly belongs in the mix of factors to be weighed in determining whether he belongs in the HoF.

    Of course, including the RC as part of a player’s HoF candidacy introduces a bias against non-American, non-European players. But the cure for that is for HoF voters to be conscious of that structural bias, especially when considering the careers of players who weren’t eligible for the RC.

    I also think a player’s amateur career should be taken into consideration, although it deserves less consideration than it would have 80-100 years ago.

    Like you, I’m having trouble imagining a player doing ANYTHING on the senior tour that would significantly add to his HoF credentials. If a senior player is truly playing so well as to warrant our notice, let him go back on the regular tour to prove it.

    Apart from the things already mentioned, I do think the HoF voters should be open, on a case-by-case basis, to other ways a player can stake out a place of honor in golf history. A player who didn’t win all that much in his career, but was an innovator, or a supreme fan favorite, or was heroic in some fashion, or who played an important role in golf outside the ropes (in broadcasting, for example) deserves consideration of those aspects of his career in combination with whatever trophies he earned.

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