Date: October 17, 2014
Author: Peter Stone /

Graham chuffed at hall of fame honor

s somewhat ironic that David Graham was in a Dallas, Texas carwash when PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem telephoned with the news that he had been elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

All the sins of the past were washed away with that one phone call that was preceded by months of deliberation on the total restructuring of the voting process and criteria in the selection of future candidates.

It followed widespread condemnation of the process where a panel of “experts” including golfing administrators, former players and golf writers numbering around 300 were sent ballot papers each year, but it was a system as heavily weighted in favour of Americans proportionate to the number of Americans on the panel.

For years, Graham, winner of two majors and a total of 35 worldwide tournament victories with wins on all six continents, was hurt and disappointed by his apparent – or perceived – snubbing.

The 68-year-old, who has suffered heart problems for nearly three decades and still takes a several pills a day to keep the ticker going, even told his beloved wife Maureen that should he be elected to the Hall of Fame after his death she was not to accept the award/honor.

“Some things are worth waiting for,” Graham told by telephone today. “I’m humbled and gratified by the support I received with Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino all supporting me in the process.”

In May last year here on this website I wrote a lengthy piece on what a disgrace it was that Graham had not been elected to the Hall of Fame, describing the process as more of a popularity contest than a genuine selection process where the credentials of each nominee were considered.

I singled out the election of Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie in 2012 (they were inducted last year) as classic examples of the failure of the voting system. Graham wasn’t even on the ballot paper for years as his name was removed after he failed to gain the required minimum number of votes in the previous two years.

The hurt gnawed at him for years but he says: “I was never bitter. It was just the system. It is more black and white, clear-cut, now. The grey areas have been removed and I congratulate Tim Finchem who saw there was a problem.”

Finchem asked Graham in that phone call to keep the news a secret until an official announcement was made, but Graham admits that was pretty difficult not to tell someone.

He did. Well, he told three people actually. Obviously he told his wife, and on Tuesday he met with former US President George W. Bush for a pre-arranged lunch and just had to tell him.

You’d imagine the former most powerful man in the world would be able to keep Graham’s secret safe.

The third was Trevino with whom he has been great mates dating back to the 1970s.

What thrills Graham most is that the induction ceremony next April will be held at the University of St Andrews.

Previously it has been held at the WGHOF in Ponte Vedra, Florida but by taking it to the home of golf is final recognition that the “World” in the Hall of Fame title is now meaningful. In the past, it might as well have been “American” with quite obviously quite a few “foreign” inductees whose credentials simply couldn’t be ignored. “It’s wonderful the induction ceremony is being held at St Andrews. It couldn’t be more fitting,” says Graham.

Australia will now have five members of that club with Graham joining Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle, Greg Norman and Karrie Webb. If you consider country of birth, you can make that six with Walter Travis, a fine amateur who then became a golf writer, coach and architect.

He was born in Maldon in the goldfields area of Bendigo in Victoria and went to the US in 1886 as a 23-year-old. He was a fine amateur golfer who then turned his mind to golf writing and publishing, coaching golfers and designing courses.