Orlando, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The World Golf Hall of Fame introduced a new selection process on Sunday, changing the voting process and criteria for induction.
Candidates will now be considered by a Selection Commission, which will consist of 16 individuals and will be co-chaired by Hall of Fame members Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam. The others will include members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.
"The Hall of Fame has established itself as the place to celebrate golf's greatest players and contributors, and this process will ensure it maintains that place as the game continues to grow and evolve," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who also chairs the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors. "The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors unanimously approved the changes to the process and we applaud the Hall of Fame team for working diligently to make this happen, along with all of the Hall of Fame members who have agreed to participate."
Previously, media members and golf officials voted for candidates on certain ballots, including a PGA Tour and international ballot. The new system will incorporate four separate categories -- male and female competitor, veteran and lifetime achievement.
"This is a great step for the Hall of Fame," said Palmer. "I was honored to be a part of the first Hall of Fame class 40 years ago in 1974, and it will be a privilege to serve on the Selection Commission with Nancy, Annika and Gary for the Class of 2015."
Candidates for the male and female competitor classifications must have 15 or more official victories on approved tours or at least two victories among approved major events. Each player also must be at least 40 years old at the start of the year selections are made or at least five years removed from active competition.
The veterans group will include players whose careers were primarily completed before 1975, while the lifetime achievement category will continue to be made up of individuals who contributed to the game from outside of the competitive arena.
A selection sub-committee will first meet to debate candidates in all four groups. It will then present five finalists in the male and female competitor categories and three each in veterans and lifetime achievement groups. The Selection Commission will discuss the merits and vote on the 16 finalists. Each new member of the class must receive at least 75 percent of the vote and each class will include no more than five inductees.
"It is a great honor to be a part of this change to the selection process for the Hall of Fame," said Player. "It is important to preserve the past and the traditions of this game that we all love and enjoy, and with this comes the responsibility for us to recognize those individuals who have significantly contributed to the success of our game. I look forward to being a part of this Selection Commission."
There were no selections this year as the process was reviewed. The next selections will take place later this year for enshrinement in 2015.
The induction ceremony itself will become a biennial event, taking place every two years starting in 2015.