British Open week kicked off Monday evening with a star-studded World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony at which legends of the game gathered to honor four new members of the august body.
Thing is, due to poor planning that seemed to ignore travel issues facing the one woman in the HOF class of 2015, Dame Laura Davies missed her own investiture. Renowned golf writer Ron Sirak termed it a "snub" of one of golf’s global luminaries, who played at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open outside Philadelphia and knew — as did the organizers of Monday’s affair — that getting to Scotland in time would be tight even if she encountered no mechanical difficulties.
Unfortunately, such problems did arise for Davies, who finished T47 after making the cut at Lancaster Country Club. She was at the Philadelphia airport in time for her 10 p.m. red-eye from Philadelphia to Scotland Sunday night but the flight was delayed four hours, according to Doug Ferguson.
When the ceremony went off as planned, at 6 p.m. in Scotland, without Davies, her peers voiced their anger.
"They knew the risk and should have sent a private plane," four-time major winner and 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon told Golfweek. "And put all her mates on, too!"
Several of Davies’ LPGA Tour compatriots were outraged about the royal screw-up that had many women shaking their heads over yet another indignity that they believe would not have befallen a male inductee in a similar situation.
"That's just not right," Webb told Sirak about organizers scheduling the event the day after a women’s major championship. "This mean so much to Laura and they don't even care if she can make it. They've taped an acceptance speech from her in case she's not there."
2day I'm deeply embarrassed 2 be a member @GolfHallofFame More effort should have been made 2 ensure @LFCLJD made it 2 her own induction!— Karrie Webb (@Karrie_Webb) July 13, 2015
Being inducted in2 @GolfHallofFame was a highlight of my career. This special occasion has been taken from @LFCLJD thru terrible scheduling!— Karrie Webb (@Karrie_Webb) July 13, 2015
I am so sad and sickened that @LFCLJD was unable to make her @GolfHallofFame induction. Delayed flights from US. Lack of foresight by all— Beth Daniel (@bethdanielBMFD) July 13, 2015
@GolfweekNichols @GolfHallofFame they can get there from John Deere right?? I think schedulef without thought of Laura& fellow Lpga peers— Jane Crafter (@craftymate) July 13, 2015
Webb was particularly upset about the situation, which could have been avoided by more careful and respectful planning or by some millionaire chartering a plane for Davies like the one that whisked Jordan Spieth from the John Deere Classic in Moline, Ill., to St. Andrews in time for a Monday practice round.
Exclusive: Jordan Spieth's seat on the charter flight from the John Deere to the British Open: pic.twitter.com/rpJePqhPvJ— Matt Newman (@mattnewman_golf) July 11, 2015
It appeared as if the latter had occurred when word spread across Twitter Monday morning that Arnold Palmer had sent his private plane to fetch Dame Laura.
REPORTED: Arnold Palmer, always a gentleman, sending his plane so Laura Davies-after dealing with delays-will be there for WGHOF Induction— Lauren Thompson (@LThompsonGC) July 13, 2015
Alas, the rumor turned out to be just that. So Davies’ many friends and family members attending the induction had to settle for a pre-recorded video message from the winner of four major titles and 65 LPGA and Ladies European Tour contests.
This was the first time an induction ceremony occurred outside the U.S., and the timing — apparently with little or no thought given to an inductee competing a day before and 4,000 miles away — seemed insensitive, at best, to Webb.
"U can quote me if u want," she said in a direct message on Twitter to Sirak after Davies' flight was grounded. "I've had enough of discrimination in my sport. And supposedly my world golf HOF!"
Davies eventually landed in Edinburgh but had to scramble to pull together appropriate attire for the post-induction reception when her luggage went missing, said Ferguson.
''I was quite upset,'' Davies told him. ''At the end, it was getting quite distressing.’'
Davies finally made it to St. Andrews for the end of the reception, but that doesn’t really get the WGHoF officials off the hook.
She's here!!! Laura Davies makes it to the Reception! pic.twitter.com/QA8qsedm8J— Dave Cordero (@davecordero) July 13, 2015
"Laura’s absence from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony is unfortunate. Laura is a competitor and we expected her to play well into the weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open, which she did," the HoF said in a statement. "As soon as her last putt dropped Sunday, the World Golf Hall of Fame and others onsite made every effort to get Laura to St. Andrews. Unfortunately mechanical issues with her plane and other international travel logistics made it impossible for her to arrive on time."
Mallon, for one, was not mollified.
I'm sorry but every effort was not made to get @LFCLJD to the WGHOF ceremony. All golf bodies failed Laura and womens golf! #shameful— Meg Mallon (@MegMallonUSA) July 13, 2015
Other members of Davies’ HoF class were major champions Mark O’Meara and David Graham and architect A.W. Tillinghast.