The Babe Factor
As someone who has been following the game since the invention of the gutta percha ball, let me applaud the LPGA's decision to finally alter the rules for entry into its Hall of Fame. As it was, it seemed doubtful that many, if any, future players would qualify, since the competition today is more intense than it was in 1951 when the Hall was founded and Patty Berg, Babe Didrickson, Betty Jameson and Louise Suggs were inducted.
The new system is based on points (page G8). However, there are at least two serious flaws that make me believe the LPGA is being self-serving. Both demand rethinking.
The first states that a player must be a member of the LPGA for at least 10 years to qualify. This is plain stupid. Hypothetically, a young player could join the tour, win four U.S. Opens and 19 other events in her first five years and then quit the game. She would qualify on points but be denied entry because of longevity. Far-fetched? Maureen Connolly won three straight Wimbledons and three straight U.S. Opens while still a teenager, then suffered a career-ending injury. Do you think she's not in the tennis Hall of Fame?
Didrickson won 31 times, including six majors, but played only six years as a pro. Not long enough. Annika Sorenstam is three points shy of the Hall going into her sixth season. Or is she? What if she decided to devote herself to a family?
The other silly policy is that tournaments won before a player was a member of the LPGA don't count. Laura Davies won the '87 U.S. Open, but since she wasn't yet an LPGA member it's as if her victory never happened.
Before LPGA members vote to approve the new system on Feb. 5, they should demand that these inequities be corrected.