World Golf Hall of Fame Changes Criteria: Harder for Men, Easier for Women

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2014

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer and Jack Peter at the World Golf Hall of Fame.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer and Jack Peter at the World Golf Hall of Fame.Michael Cohen/Getty Images

The World Golf Hall of Fame has modified the criteria for potential induction. There are a number of changes to the process and to the categories. To be nominated and elected, a golfer now has to get approval of 75 percent of the new Selection Committee, a panel of 16 co-chaired by Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam.

Anyone qualified on the basis of the new criteria will need 12 members of the Selection Committee to vote for him or her to gain entry to the Hall.

“This is the 40th anniversary of the Hall of Fame, and I was lucky enough to be in the first class of ’74,” said Arnold Palmer. “I’m honored to be co-chair of the Selection Committee.”

“The Hall of Fame made the right decision to include other female international golf organizations in the new process,” said Nancy Lopez.

“What excites me is the international aspect,” said Gary Player, who was also in the initial class of 1974. “I think it’s a great idea to have it biennial, instead of every year. I think it gives it a lot more prestige.”

“With golf in the Olympics in 2016, I think this new process sets the Hall of Fame up to recognize the game's stars no matter where they’re from,” said Annika Sorenstam.

Here are some highlights of the new criteria:

Inductions will be every two years instead of annually with the next two occurring in 2015 and 2017.

The age of 40 remains the entry point for men and women, or they must be five years beyond being an active participant on the Tour where they qualified.

The international category is eliminated by including the many men’s and women’s tours instead of just the PGA Tour and LPGA.

The LPGA 40-point system, which was very difficult for even excellent golfers to achieve, has been eliminated. The LPGA will now have the same criteria as the men.

The criteria are now 15 victories or two titles from the five most important events on the men’s or women’s tour.

For the women, victories have to be from the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour, Japan LPGA, Korea LPGA, and the Australia Ladies Professional Golf tournaments. For the men, victories can be from the PGA Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, Sunshine Tour, Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia.

The five most important events on the women’s circuit are considered to be the U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Championship, the du Maurier Classic, Women’s British Open ( 2001-current year), Kraft Nabisco Championship (from 1983) and the Evian Championship (from 2013).

The five most important for the men are The Masters, The Players Championship, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

Veterans are now considered anyone whose playing career occurred prior to 1975. Amateurs and professionals can qualify in this category.

Induction in the Lifetime Achievement category comes after individuals are nominated by a member of the sub-committee, which includes a cross-section of men’s and women’s golf organizations and the various international tours.

The changes in criteria open up selection for a variety of players, even though there are some players who previously could have met the qualifications but were not selected.

On the women’s side, Laura Davies will now qualify. David Graham, who has two U.S. major victories, will now have a better opportunity for induction as will Jose Maria Olazabal. Angel Cabrera, who has played most of his golf in South America, could qualify with two major victories as could Retief Goosen. Even Andy North, whose two victories were U.S. Opens, has a shot.    

Prior to 1994, Hall of Fame selections were done by the Golf Writers Association of America.


Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.