The future of the World Golf Hall of Fame, currently located in St. Augustine, Florida, is in jeopardy.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.—The World Golf Hall of Fame? ” You must go there ! legendary golfer Gary Player implores us in TV commercials.

Prepare the irony. After next year, it may be the World Golf Hall of Fame that has to go.

There have been many signs that the Hall of Fame is aging badly at its home in St. Augustine, Fla., where it was founded in 1998. Its trustees have long since left their offices onsite at the Hall. The outdoor putting course is gone, along with the competition to try and hit the replica green island in the backyard.

Perhaps most telling was PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s resounding disapproval this week when he discussed the matter with the media ahead of the Players Championship, comments that were overshadowed and overlooked by most. media because of all the hype around Tiger Woods. to be inducted.

“We’re tied to the World Golf Hall of Fame until 2023,” Monahan said. “We are looking at all of our options as we move forward.”

Hmmm. “All our options? Presumably, that includes moving the Hall of Fame somewhere else, making it digital, and/or shutting it down altogether. Spending more money on it is probably not an option, given 25 years of general public disinterest.

Another not-so-minor clue was the greatest moment in Hall history on Wednesday when Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of modern times, was inducted into the Hall. Where did the Hall of Fame’s finest hour take place? Uh, uh… not in the Hall. No, it was held at the new PGA Tour headquarters here at Ponte Vedra Beach where seating was limited and guests would have “donated” $5,000 to be a part of it. Previous ceremonies had taken place at Pebble Beach and St. Andrews – again, missed opportunities draw attention and fans to the St. Augustine Hall, which has historically suffered from low attendance.

Tiger Night was a massive marketing ploy. Unless, of course, you already know that the faltering Hall of Famers is sailing like the Titanic towards an iceberg at the end of the contract and it will ultimately not matter.

Monahan wanted it to feel like business as usual with his diplomatic and upbeat tone. “We’ve been fortunate to be in St. Augustine for 25 years and are proud of the presence we’ve created there,” he said, “but Hall of Fame activity and the way people consume the Hall of Fame has changed. We want to ensure that any decision we make about the next 25 years maximizes our ability to showcase the incredible careers and impact each Hall of Famer has had on our Game. “

The Tour’s 25-year lease expires and an obligation agreement with the State of Florida ends. And after? The Hall of Fame needs a benefactor with deep, deep pockets and a love of golf history. Good luck with that.

The World Golf Village, home to the Hall of Fame, was a partial success. The host sites around it took a while to sell out at first, but now it’s a finite community. The golf courses built to accompany the Hall – The Slammer & The Squire and The King & The Bear – proved popular with golfers.


However, the shops and boutiques originally built around the Hall of Fame have mostly all gone bankrupt. The PGA Tour Shop is long gone. Pretty much all that remains is the Reverb Church and the original restaurant next to the Hall, Caddyshack, which was started by Bill Murray and his brothers, including Andy, who was the original chef.

I was at the 2018 Hall of Fame voting session in South Florida, part of a panel of 16 golf representatives who came together to decide which nominees would be in the Hall and which would not. part of the class of 2019. I was there as president of the Golf Writers Association of America, not as a reporter, and reminded that I could not print any of the comments made by a board that included Player, Jack Nicklaus , USGA’s Mike Davis, Nancy Lopez and others.

So, I won’t go into details, but somehow the Hall of Fame status appeared and I’ll never forget the look of shock and dismay on the face of Player when Monahan told him it was a financial flop and serious trouble and that the tour would consider other options after his lease ended.

Empty storefronts have always tagged the site with an apt moniker – The World Ghost Village.

I could offer a list of bad decisions and bad ideas made by those who put together the Hall of Fame that led to its downfall. There are almost too many to name. But even the little things were wrong, like:

The closest car park is 300 meters from the entrance (on the other side of the Renaissance hotel); arrivals must drive slowly around a large circle past a golf course and housing to reach the Lobby and shops from the I-95 exit, instead of a short, straight direct line; not enough attention on the great players and personalities of the game and especially on the players who interest the public the most – Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, not in that order. Even today, you’ll see more Bob Hope artifacts in the room than the big three combined.

The sad truth about the World Golf Hall of Fame, which moved to St. Augustine and became PGA Tour property after going bankrupt in Pinehurst, North Carolina, under the watch of the PGA of America, is there may not be enough interest. in the history of golf to support a golf museum.

Golf is a niche sport. Those who play it recreationally and also follow the PGA and LPGA tours closely are a niche game. Anyone who plays it and watches it and cares about Ben Hogan or Jimmy Demaret or Patty Berg or the history of servicing equipment is a niche of a niche of a niche. Add another niche for good measure.

In other words, there is only a small audience for a golf museum/Hall of Fame. Even the Golf Channel, the network that golf fans rely on for daily golf news, has a fairly small audience. Golf is not NFL or NBA or NCAA basketball.

Once again, Monahan said, “The way people consume Hall of Fame has changed,” Monahan said. It sounds like it signals the end of an era for the current room. If the induction of Tiger Woods can’t save the Hall of Fame, nothing can.

The World Golf Hall of Fame? ” You must go there ! Woods finally made it to the Hall of Fame, but he still hasn’t made it. Hall came to him.

Drop the mic, Tiger. Now lower the curtain.


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