World Golf Hall of Fame Brings the Game's Past to Life

The Member's Locker Room at the World Golf Hall of Fame

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Thanks to one of the most logical calendar reconfigurations in recent memory, golf’s past and present will meet the week of the Players Championship in northeast Florida. The annual World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was moved from November to May, and will serve as the prelude to PGA Tour’s yearly pilgrimage to TPC Sawgrass.

On Monday, May 9, 2011 Ernie Els, Doug Ford, Jock Hutchinson, former President George H.W. Bush and Jumbo Ozaki will be introduced as the newest members of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine. In accordance with its new date, the induction ceremony will move indoors. 

 

The living, breathing time capsule at the heart of the World Golf Village complex contains thousands of artifacts, including video clips, rare images, championship medallions and personal items that tell the stories of the men and women who’ve been enshrined through the years. This shift in the induction schedule should bring more visibility to the Hall of Fame.

"I don't think you'll find anybody that's not happy about the new date on the golf calendar,” said Mark Cubbedge, senior manager of collections and research for the World Golf Hall of Fame. “It obviously putsthe Hall of Fame in very close alliance with the Players Championship. All ofthe players will be here in this county. The golf writers, the golf media will all be here. The eyes of the world are turned here, so hopefully we'll have just a fantastic ceremony and a great turnout.”

If you’re the type of person who pages through magazines just looking at the pictures, the World Golf Hall of Fame may not appeal to you. It’s the kind of place where exhibits need to be closely inspected, and interactive elements need to be explored.

Peer into the glass-encased shrine to seldom mentioned Lloyd Mangrum, and next to a Purple Heart and his military dog tags you’ll see a tattered dollar bill torn in two. Like many athletes, Mangrum served his country in World War II. He was offered the golf professional’s job at the Fort Meade course, but opted for combat duty.

A replica of the Swilican Bridge inside the WGHOF 

Mangrum fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was among the allied forces who stormed the beaches at Normandy. Prior to making the harrowing dash to the shore, Mangrum and his friend Sgt. Robert Green took a U.S. $1 bill and ripped it into two pieces. They each took a half and signed it, vowing to make it whole upon returning home. Green didn’t’ make it out alive.

Mangrum did, and in the first post-World War II U.S. Open golf tournament at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio, he bested Byron Nelson and Vic Ghezzi in a 36-hole playoff to win our national championship. As he did for the remainder of his life, Mangrum carried that signed half of a dollar in his wallet.

“Those are the stories that when you get to looking at them, really bring a name to life,” Cubbedge said. “Those are things that really allow us to connect to the average person who may have never heard of Lloyd Mangrum or might not be a golf fan. When you leave and you read things like that, it's kind of hard to forget who they are."

Equipment has changed so drastically in golf, and those who play it have become such tremendously fit athletes that it’s difficult to makecomparisons from one era to the next. That doesn’t necessarily mean that similarities don’t exist, and this is evident when you browse volumes of footage in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Steps from a replica of the Swilican Bridge of St. Andrews fame and an Old World putting green equipped with gutta percha golf balls and long nose, hickory shafted putters that runs a three or four on the Stimpmeter, is a vintage video reel of Open Championship highlights dating back to 1916.

A clip from the 1930 Open Championship shows the great Bobby Jones abruptly stop in his backswing as news cameras click and shutter allaround him. We may be more familiar with Tiger Woods innate ability to stop in the middle of his violent downward motion, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’thappened before.

Historic current events are also cataloged and displayed at the World Golf Hall of Fame, and in 2010 there were no shortage of magical moments in golf. Items worn and used during the record rounds shot by Stuart Appleby, Paul Goydos and Bobby Wyatt, who carded a 57 at the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship, were shipped off to St. Augustine and transformed into exhibits for the public to take in.

The World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine 

The exploits of golf’s greatest champions are documentedwith some of the most unique and personal memorabilia ever assembled. See Jack Nicklaus like you’ve never seen him before. Currently on display is a career mosaic that incorporates 3,000 individual images to create a likeness of theGolden Bear used for a 1999 equipment ad. An original Andy Warhol of Nicklaus also hangs from the walls.

There is something for everyone interest – Eleven original hole diagrams drawn by architect Alister MacKenzie of Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California, a bronzed plaster of Sam Snead’s hands, Babe Zaharias’ harmonica and even those ugly 1999 Ryder Cup shirts sported by the United States in Brookline.

Inside the Hall of Fame, you can play putting contests andtest your skill on golf simulators. Take a ride upstairs to the museum’s signature architectural feature, the Trophy Tower, to view all of golf’s mostprestigious trophies including the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Ben Hogan Award,Claret Jug and Wanamaker Trophy. Outside, take a shot at a replica of the 17that Sawgrass or play the 18-hole real grass putting course.

The World Golf Village is also home to an IMAX theater, twochampionship 18-hole courses (Slammer & Squire and King and Bear), theaward-winning Renaissance Resort and a number of restaurants and shops. Formore info, visit www.worldgolfvillage.com.

Editor's Note: This article was first published in the inaugural issue of Golfer's Guide Lifestyles. To get a copy of the new full-size magazine, visit your local Golf Galaxy.  

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