Captain Cool Not Ready for the Hall of Fame

by Jeff Skinner

With Fred Couples’ recent win at The Senior Open Championship the debate on whether Couples is worthy of the Hall of Fame has been rekindled.  The boys over at The Golf Channel argue both sides, with many valid points both for and against Boom Boom’s inclusion on the hallowed walls of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Couples has had a wonderful career, with 15 PGA Tour wins including two Players Championships and that holy grail of a major, the 1992 Masters.  He has also has played on numerous Ryder and Presidents Cups and has carved out a nice second career as Presidents Cup Captain.  Since turning 50 Freddy has been a force on the Champions Tour while still competing with the kids on the PGA Tour.  Indeed, Fred has fashioned an enviable career and he has strolled his way from the fairways into the hearts of golf fans everywhere.  His “California Cool” demeanor and syrupy swing have made him more than a fan favorite, he’s Captain Cool.

But from my point of view there is more to the Hall of Fame than being loved by fans and media alike.  Some say it’s all about the numbers, but it isn’t.  First and foremost it is about golf, not just playing golf but the contribution to the game.  Remember, there are many members that never teed it up on a pro tour.  President Bush (41) is a member and we saw Dan Jenkins inducted this year for his decades of writing on his beloved pastime.

Fred Couples has and is still having a wonderful career.  But if for one roll of his golf ball down the bank of Rae’s Creek the thought of his consideration into the Hall of Fame would be nonexistent.   If you’re getting into the Hall on numbers alone, then those numbers have to be over whelming, Freddy’s are not.  If you’re getting into the Hall based on the contributions to the game they have to be very significant, Freddy’s are not…close but not quite there yet.

We all take it for granted that Billy Casper is in the Hall of Fame but Casper wasn’t an automatic selection and had to wait over three ballots before the Hall voters righted this wrong.  Casper has three majors, 51 PGA Tour wins, two Players of the Year, and five Vardon Trophies and he had to wait while other, less deserving players were voted in ahead of him.  Those are overwhelming numbers and Casper no doubt should have been inducted if not in the inaugural 1974 class at least in the following year.

My point is that Fred’s Couples isn’t worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame right now.  Cool gets you adoration from the fans, not nomination to the Hall.  That being said, Fred is certainly capable of adding to his resume.  He’ll be captain at next year’s Presidents Cup and an assistant at this year’s Ryder Cup.  He’ll still be winning on the Champions Tour and a major win there does improve his chances.  And then there is his ability to be an “Ambassador of the Game.”

Fred Couples still has a few years of golf left in that creaky old back of his and it looks like he has another career of being a captain so he’s not done yet building his case for admission to the Hall.  But based on his PGA Tour numbers alone I’d have to say it has been a wonderful career but it falls a bit short of being enough to get into the Hall of Fame.


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