DOUG FORD, 88, FINALLY HAS a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame. And not a moment too soon. When told last year by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem he was one of six 2011 inductees, Ford replied, “About time.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Monday night was the big night. Friend and 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby presented Ford during the induction ceremony at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida. Also enshrined were Ernie Els, Jock Hutchison, Jumbo Ozaki, the late CBS-TV pioneer Frank Chirkinian and former President George H.W. Bush.
Ford had been on the ballot before—and passed over. He expressed doubt about ever getting in and wondered why his record didn’t sway voters.
“I’ll put my record up against just about anyone’s in the Hall,” Ford told GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell after being turned away in 2009. “I think I have a hell of a record. I don’t know what they’re looking for. I don’t know what the knock on me is, but I’m just not that enthused about it anymore. If they don’t appreciate what I’ve done, I can’t do anything about it.”
Let’s look at Ford’s record. Nineteen PGA Tour wins. Two majors: the 1957 Masters, beating Sam Snead by three shots, and the 1955 PGA Championship, beating Cary Middlecoff in the final (when the PGA was a match-play event). Also four Ryder Cup teams.
Awfully good, isn’t it?
Ford played in the era of Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Arnold Palmer, Julius Boros, Tommy Bolt, Gene Littler and others. All winners and tough competitors. It was back in the day when you sometimes needed to win or finish high just to make enough money to get to the next event, as Bolt told me before he died.
There were already several players in the Hall who were elected with fewer wins or majors (or both) than Ford: Tom Kite (18 wins, one major), Tommy Bolt (15 wins, one major), Bob Charles (18 wins, one major), Gene Littler (29 wins, one major) and Chi Chi Rodriguez (eight wins, no majors).
“It’s a travesty Doug’s not in,” Goalby said in recent years. “Evidently, he alienated some people.”
Probably so. Ford was known for his feisty personality. It’s part of what made him a great player. But now ruffled feathers don’t matter. The feisty Ford is in, a deserving and long overdue selection.
−The Armchair Golfer