Fact or Fiction: New Hall of Fame Makes Pinehurst an Even Bigger Destination

SI Golf’s writers and editors debate Pinehurst as a HOF home and whether PGA Tour signature events immediately before majors are working.
The U.S. Open is back at Pinehurst this week, where golf's Hall of Fame now resides after moving from Florida.
The U.S. Open is back at Pinehurst this week, where golf's Hall of Fame now resides after moving from Florida. / Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to SI Golf’s Fact or Fiction, where we're ready to see some messy short-game scenes this week that aren't our own.

Once again, we’re here to debate a series of statements for writers and editors to declare as “Fact” or “Fiction” along with a brief explanation. Responses may also (occasionally) be “Neutral” since there's a lot of gray area in golf.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on the SI Golf X account.

Jack Nicklaus said he didn’t prefer the new date for this year’s Memorial Tournament, falling immediately before the U.S. Open. When he played, he liked to rest and prepare on his own one week prior to a major. But signature events before a major are smart for the PGA Tour. 

Bob Harig: FICTION. The signature events are nearly impossible to skip and those who do will be questioned about missing them. It means you need to play the week prior to a major whether you like it or not. Some do, and that’s great. Others, as Jack noted in his own case, would prefer not. So a balance should be struck. This year two of the four majors see a signature event precede them. The problem with the U.S. Open is that there is another one right after it. Perhaps some schedule tweaks are in order.

John Pluym: FACT. I like the signature events before the majors just because it’s good for golf fans. Why not have a strong field leading into a major tournament? And the signature event seemed to work for Jack’s Memorial. I understand that guys want to be able to rest before a major but having a signature event before a major is a huge momentum boost.   

Jeff Ritter: FACT. All of these signature events need to land somewhere, and more guys seem to like playing the week before a major than not. LIV Golf is also playing before major weeks, so, you know, while that compromise continues to get sorted out it would also be smart business for the Tour to compete those same weeks.

John Schwarb: FICTION. I appreciate how some players use tournaments right before majors to find form while others prepare on their own, and the intrigue when everyone reunites at majors. I’d rather the Tour let signature events breathe a bit more. 

The World Golf Hall of Fame relocated to Pinehurst, N.C., and will get some airtime this week during the U.S. Open. The move should allow it to become as much of a hallowed destination as other major U.S. sports’ halls of fame.

Bob Harig: FACT. For whatever reasons the World Golf Hall of Fame failed to catch on off an interstate in Florida. Now it’s in a golf mecca, where thousands upon thousands of golfers descend each year. And it will help that the USGA has made Pinehurst one of its anchor sites for the U.S. Open as well as bringing other USGA champions to the area. Getting to be a great destination like other sports’ hall of fames might be a challenge, but this is a good start.

John Pluym: FACT. I’ve been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. And, someday, I would like to make it to Cooperstown. And having the World Golf Hall of Fame in North Carolina is a perfect destination for golf fans. Anytime a sports fan gets to see a HOF, they should take advantage. The history of sports is what it’s all about.

Jeff Ritter: FACT. I’m probably too much of a golf history nerd to be unbiased here, but I always thought the golf HOF in St. Augustine was awesome. Moving to Pinehurst and adding to the exhibit will only ramp it up. No golf fan should miss a chance to see it.

John Schwarb: NEUTRAL. I have some bias here as a former St. Augustine resident; I took my young children to the WGHOF often. It was the anchor of a decent complex which included a golf course, hotel, restaurants and retail, but attendance eventually sagged and the area lost its mojo. Will the Hall at Pinehurst attract casual golf fans or just be a way to kill time on rainy days for resort guests? We’ll need decades to find out, as hallowed Halls take time. 

Nasa Hataoka was disqualified from the ShopRite LPGA Classic after a post-round video review showed she took more than three minutes to look for a lost ball. One fellow player called it unfair. For these types of rulings the tours should help with timing so players know what they have to work with. 

Bob Harig: FACT. Timing is such a nebulous issue to begin with that penalizing after the fact seems harsh. It’s something that needs to be enforced in real time, with playing partners, walking scorers and officials on site. 

John Pluym: FACT. Let’s be real here. The NFL has the play clock. The NBA has the shot clock. And even MLB has a pitch clock. Agree with Bob. Let’s get with the program and do this in real time. This is embarrassing for the tour. 

Jeff Ritter: FACT. The Rules of Golf are adapting to prevent players from getting penalized and/or DQ’d via TV replays, but we obviously still aren’t all the way there yet. There’s still time.  

John Schwarb: FACT. Golfers love to celebrate the game’s self-policing qualities but time penalties shouldn’t fall on players to legislate. Not only should tours assist with immediate help (not video after the fact), but when these happen in TV windows, how about putting a three-minute clock on the screen and creating a little fun for viewers?

Fifteen-year-old Miles Russell, the youngest player to make a cut in a Korn Ferry Tour event (finishing T20 in April), got a sponsor exemption to the Rocket Mortgage Classic later this month on the PGA Tour. He’s worthy of that invitation. 

Bob Harig: FACT. It is the entire point of a sponsor exemption and a perk to those putting up the money. If they believe someone will give their event more attention, it’s fair game. It helps when the golfer is legit, as Russell appears to be at this point. We’re all intrigued to see how he fares.

John Pluym: FACT. Russell earned his sponsor exemption. It wasn’t just given to him out of thin air. Rewarding a player for a good finish makes sense. And if the move improves the field, then why not do it? It makes a lot more sense than disqualifying a player after a post-round video review showing they took more than three minutes to look for a lost ball.    

Miles Russell shares a smile with his caddie after teeing off during the final round of the 2024 Junior Invitational.
Miles Russell, age 15, will play in a PGA Tour event later this month. / Katie Goodale, Katie Goodale / USA TODAY

Jeff Ritter: FACT. Sponsors can do whatever they want with exemptions to add juice to their event. Would we be talking about the Rocket Mortgage at all today if not for Russell’s spot in the field? I rest my case. 

John Schwarb: FACT. As the chasm widens between signature and non-signature events, sponsor exemptions become more important for the Rocket Mortgages of the Tour to create interest in very tough spots on the schedule. And this isn’t an exemption given to some celebrity or athlete from another sport who thinks he’s got game—Russell proved himself on the ultra-competitive KFT. .


Published
John Schwarb

JOHN SCHWARB

John Schwarb is the senior golf editor for Sports Illustrated whose career has spanned more than 25 years covering sports. He’s been featured on ESPN.com, PGATour.com, The Golfers Journal and Tampa Bay Times. He’s also the author of The Little 500: The Story of the World's Greatest College Weekend. A member of the Golf Writers Association of America, John is based in Indianapolis.

Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.

Jeff Ritter

JEFF RITTER

Jeff Ritter is the Managing Director of SI Golf. He spent more than a decade at Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine, and in 2020 joined Morning Read to help spark its growth and eventual acquisition by Sports Illustrated in 2022. He's a member of the Golf Writers' Association of America (GWAA) and has covered more than 25 major championships. He helped launch SI Golf Plus Digital, Golf Magazine’s first original, weekly e-magazine, and served as its top editor. He also launched Golf's “Films” division, the magazine’s first long-form video storytelling franchise, and his debut documentary received an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, the MIN Magazine Awards, and the Golf Writers Association of America, among others. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A native Michigander, he remains a diehard Wolverine fan and will defend Jim Harbaugh until the bitter end.

John Pluym

JOHN PLUYM

John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.