No golf Hall of Fame announcement has been more criticized in recent memory than the one involving Fred Couples this year. Golf writers and pundits everywhere are claiming Couples is an undeserving candidate. If he’s so undeserving, how did he get in? To be elected to the Hall of Fame, a golfer has to be named on at least 65% of the ballots. Couples was named on just 51%. But, there’s a quirk in the rules. If no golfer receives at least 65%, the golfer with the highest percentage automatically gets in, provided he has been named on at least 50% of the ballots. Thus, Couples slid in. “His body of work is not Hall of Fame caliber!” cry the critics. “To put him in the same category at Hogan, Jones, and Nicklaus is absurd!” they say. Let’s take a closer look at Couples’ career. He won 15 times on the PGA Tour with one major, the 1992 Masters. How many golfers in history have won at least 15 times with one major? All of 53. That’s out of approximately 2,000 who have ever played on Tour; out of thousands more who attempted to play on Tour; and, out of millions of golfers in total. He also won The Players twice, which is considered by many competitors to be a true major, and reached the number one ranking worldwide in 1992. He was twice PGA Tour Player of the Year, and arguably that accomplishment in itself was equal to winning two majors. He also has contributed to the game through the Ryder and Presidents Cups and through other venues, but even taking them out of the equation, his playing record alone is good enough. And, if he had not had back trouble throughout his career, how many more events would he have won? Those who say Couples’ induction is an affront to Hogan, Nicklaus, etc., are missing the point. Under that reasoning, you could fairly argue that a “true” Hall of Fame would include Vardon, Jones, Hagen, Sarazen, Snead, Nelson, Hogan, Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Woods, possibly Casper, Trevino, Watson, Ballesteros and Faldo, and no one else. Is that really the standard we want? It would be a very sparse Hall of Fame if that were the case. Of course there are different layers of accomplishment among the Hall of Famers. More voters thought Couples should be in the Hall of Fame than not. That’s good enough for me, and should be good enough for all of us. Welcome, Freddie! By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director
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