Canadian HOF Inductees: Ben Kern, Graham Cooke, Brent Franklin

In another of a series of unexpected moves by the RCGA and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, three new inductees were announced today: former PGA Tour pro and longtime club pro Ben Kern; noted amateur Brent Franklin and great amateur/architect Graham Cooke.

I’d have expected Richard Zokol, who turned 50 last year, to be on the list, but he was again excluded. I have a strong suspicion that he was nominated — though I didn’t put him up. I wonder who Richard has pissed off at the ultra-political HOF and the RCGA. After all, he had two PGA Tour wins, was a long-time PGA Tour pro, led the NCAA champion BYU team, and won a Canadian Amateur. And this is the organization that kept Moe Norman out of its HOF for a long period of time before begrudgingly admitting him. Zokol has been outspoken — often about the RCGA — so I wonder if that keeps the door shut for him.

Are Kern, Franklin and Cooke worthy? Without doubt, so I guess that is compensation for overlooking Zokol. Cooke is one of the country’s great amateurs, and a well-liked designer by many. Franklin won everything as an amateur and had a successful pro career that was cut short when he was hit by a truck in 1995.  Kern played on the PGA Tour off-and-on for six years with limited success, but was one of the first pros at the National Club of Canada in Woodbridge, and a pro at Devil’s Pulpit.  “He was a true professional, and he was a great guy,” said Lee Trevino of his frequent playing partner when Ben attended the New Mexico State University in the late 1960s.

Who is missing? AV Macan, the Vancouver golf designer behind Shaughnessy, Royal Colwood, etc. and a great amateur, should be there. Zokol goes without saying and has been overlooked. Lorie Kane also should be there, though I suspect she still considers herself an active player. Designers Doug Carrick and Thomas McBroom would seem like obvious in time. Stephen Ames?

I’d add that I feel the nomination process for the Canadian HOF is flawed. Practically every other sport has a standard nomination process(years from active service, points, etc.)  — where the RCGA’s is a lengthy, strangely public, yet far from transparent process. It would make more sense to have some sort of standardized nomination process, and perhaps a veterans committee that looks at those that might have been missed, as well as getting the decision-making into more wide-ranging hands. There’s currently no media presence in the group that decides who gets in and who doesn’t  — for better of worse. Of course that runs completely contrary to organizations like Major League Baseball.

My final word on this matter is that HOF induction should involve greatness in some capacity. Whether or not the inductee was a great guy shouldn’t make a difference. It matters what they brought to the game of golf in Canada.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • With his career and accomplishments, Zokol is a lock one day. While not irrelevant, an induction into the HOF is not the most noted of honourariums. They need him more than he needs them.

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