ST. AUGUSTINE, Florida. – The World Golf Hall of Fame is leaving St. Augustine and returning to North Carolina, where it will become part of the USGA campus in Pinehurst and hold two induction ceremonies during US Open weeks in 2024 and 2029.
The move will involve moving some of the artifacts that were on display at the World Golf Hall of Fame, which opened in 1998. The visitor experience will also include the USGA Museum and its extensive library.
The USGA, which has its headquarters in Far Hills, New Jersey, last month began building a “Golf House Pinehurst” with golf equipment testing as its centerpiece.
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner who chairs the World Golf Foundation, said Wednesday’s announcement would “cement the long-term relevance and viability” of the Hall of Fame and expand the partnership with the USGA.
“Both organizations are committed to prioritizing the preservation of golf history, which will serve fans well for years to come,” Monahan said.
The folks at World Golf Village told News4JAX today that they were surprised and disappointed by the announcement.
“It was just shocking honestly,” said Jake Sylak, a college golfer visiting from Ohio. “It’s just a place as an amateur golfer as a kid growing up watching golf, you want to be able to come here and see the history of it and it’s crazy to see all that history can move like that. ”
Tiger Woods was part of the last initiation class in March at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. In recent years, induction ceremonies were tied to big events – St. Andrews at the 2015 British Open, Liberty National at the 2017 Presidents Cup, Pebble Beach in 2019 at the US Open.
It was not immediately decided whether there would be further induction ceremonies between the 2024 US Open and the 2029 US Open and the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst.
“There is no better connection to the past, present and future of golf than Pinehurst, and no organization that works harder than the USGA to preserve the history of this great game,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA. “It makes sense. And with the Hall of Fame, we are more committed than ever to delivering experiences that build even deeper connections between golf fans and those who have truly paved the way in this great game.”
Golf has long struggled to establish a Hall of Fame that would be consistent with Cooperstown (baseball) and Canton (professional football), in part because its roots involve more than one organization.
The Hall of Fame opened in 1974 at Pinehurst was a private enterprise. The PGA of America took over the leadership in 1983 and acquired it three years later, merging its Hall of Fame which dated back to 1940. The World Golf Hall of Fame brought a global aspect to golf, including the LPGA Tour.
But traffic to the World Golf Village was slow. Attendance was over 250,000 a year at its peak and last year fell to around 60,000. The World Golf Foundation’s 25-year lease expires at the end of next year.
Monahan was looking for ways to preserve the rich history of golf even without the physical structure of St. Augustine, and the partnership with the USGA blazes a clear path.
The USGA will be responsible for day-to-day operations. The World Golf Foundation will continue to oversee the selection process and the induction ceremony.
As well as artifacts from the World Golf Hall of Fame – such as Johnny Miller’s clubs from his 63 at Oakmont in the 1973 US Open and the wedge Seve Ballesteros used to win his first British Open – the sanctuary will include the collection complete with USGA Golf Museum and Library.
Miller and Nick Faldo were the first players to be inducted into the Florida facilities in 1998. The last World Golf Village induction ceremony was in 2013, a class that included Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie.
The closure is not expected to immediately affect nearby businesses like the Caddyshack Restaurant, Renaissance Hotel and nearby golf courses.
Now the question is, what happens next?
“I guess I would just like to see some life,” said St. Johns County resident Amy Thomas. “I wish there was a reason people could be here at night and, you know, with this big water property here, maybe you could have restaurants around where people could walk and hang out and listen. music would be great.”
St. Johns County Commissioner Sarah Arnold said she sees potential in the property.
“I think with the right vision; Hall of Fame property can be redeveloped into something the community will embrace and support. I can’t wait to see what’s next,” Arnold said in a statement to News4JAX.
Commissioner Henry Dean agrees and says he would like to see a mixed-use area with more housing, restaurants and parks.
“I think we could come up with a plan that will be very exciting. Very good not only for residents but also for tourists,” Dean said.
Commissioner Dean said he wanted to hold a series of public meetings to get input from public and private stakeholders to try to come up with ideas on what should happen next in space.
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