In an interview with Reuters, World Golf Hall of Fame CEO Steve Mona defended the selection criteria amid criticism over which golfers are inducted and how they are chosen.
“It’s not just strictly (based) on playing record,” Mona told Reuters. “The Fame element is part of it. Some people were just more popular than others when they were on tour.”
Despite complaints from some in the golf world over who has and has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Mona said he believes the selection process is good and that the lack of “black and white” criteria is a positive.
“The process is superior to what we had previously,” Mona said. “I think the debate is healthy. I would say people who are deserving over time get in because we have this veterans category for people who are missed at some point.”
Inductions into the Hall of Fame occur every other year, and only five people can be inducted at a time. Nominees need 75 percent of the vote from the selection commission in order to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a change which was initiated four years ago.
Under the old selection format, nominees needed only 50 percent of the vote from a body of 300 people. The selection committee under the new format is comprised of 16 voters. Some of the committee’s members include Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. Mona does not vote on the inductees.
Earlier this month, the Hall of Fame revealed the five members of the 2019 class. It was highlighted by two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen and former Augusta National chairman Billy Payne. Alongside Goosen and Payne, going into the Hall are LPGA great Jan Stephenson, motivational speaker Dennis Walters and the late teaching legend Peggy Kirk Bell.
The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame is set for the Monday of the men’s U.S. Open on June 10, 2019, in Pebble Beach, Calif.