If you are a fan of the movie “Remember the Titans,” you will recall a scene late in the story when pandemonium erupts as T.C. Williams High School completes an improbable comeback victory to win a Virginia state football title.
As the team came together, head coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) and assistant coach Bill Yoast (played by Will Patton) embraced and congratulated each other. Boone’s comments were especially poignant as he told Yoast, “You’ll always be a Hall-of-Famer in my book.”
The exchange was based on the fact that Yoast did not get elected to the state sports hall of fame the prior summer because he refused to compromise his standards. It was a real-life manifestation of the axiom, “One’s reputation is what others think of you, but your character is who you really are.”
Recognition for supers
So what does this have to do with golf or superintendents?
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed recently when I noticed that Jerry Tarde, editor of Golf Digest, had suggested that Butch Harmon was worthy of World Golf Hall of Fame status. Let me be clear, I have no problem with Tarde pushing Harmon’s selection, nor do I question Harmon’s qualifications, given the criteria.
But it got me thinking. When is a golf course superintendent going to be selected to the Hall of Fame? It should be noted that Old Tom Morris is in the hall, but the recognition is more for his playing than his skills as a teacher, architect and greenkeeper.
To be fair and transparent, the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, has transitioned over time in terms of management and selection criteria. And, because it has only been around since 1974, there has been some catching up to include some of the game’s earliest pioneers. If a superintendent is to be selected, it would come under the “Lifetime Achievement” category, which allows for only three nominations to be passed along to the selection committee each year.
GCSAA has been working within the rules and norms to get a superintendent elected to the hall for quite a while. By that, I mean the leadership has submitted a nomination and support letters for consideration by the selection subcommittee and the selection committee. I have been told that a video was also produced to support Col. John Morley, the GCSAA’s first president.
If I had any advice for GCSAA, it would be to go outside the family and enlist the support of media, previous Old Tom Morris Award winners, and other influential people in the golf and environmental communities. In short, turn up the heat – in the most positive sense of the word.
I freely admit to being parochial on this subject. However, I am not suggesting a superintendent is more qualified than a golf pro, architect, builder, business person or anyone else who meets the Lifetime Achievement criteria.
But at the same time, there are no superintendents. Heck, numerous state golf halls of fame have inducted superintendents, so why no national status?
Some will argue that this absence is much ado about nothing. After all, what does selection to the Hall of Fame really mean, beyond the recognition for the individual?
Well, I contend that it provides a stronger and broader platform to recognize the value of the superintendent. Caretakers of the profession must be diligent in pursuing opportunities that strengthen it.
I am not one of those who believe superintendents are treated like second-class citizens. As a whole, I believe the profession is well respected and recognized for its work, and that respect has been growing. Still, the omission is glaring.
If there is a silver lining, it is that I have never talked to a golf course superintendent who feels the need for validation, individually or as a profession. They are comfortable in their own skin and with the value they deliver to golfers, facilities and the environment. And like Coach Yoast, the character of these professionals is what’s most important.
Yes, superintendents are hall of famers in my book.