Mark McCormack, known as the father of the sports marketing and management industry, has been chosen by the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors Selection Committee to enter the World Golf Hall of Fame through its Lifetime Achievement category. McCormack will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame on 30th October in St. Augustine, Fla., along with 2006 classmates Larry Nelson, Vijay Singh, Marilynn Smith and the late Henry Picard.
Arnold Palmer, McCormack’s first client, will speak on his behalf at the 2006 Induction Ceremony. The legendary handshake deal between the two in 1960 was the foundation for the sports marketing industry and evolved for McCormack into what would become IMG, the world’s premier sports, entertainment and media company.
“Very few things could have pleased me more than to get word that Mark had been chosen for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame,” said Palmer. “Not only did Mark play integral parts in the success I and many other professional golfers as well as celebrities in other sports and fields have enjoyed, but just as important to me, he was a very close and loyal friend. It is great that his many contributions to the game during his lifetime are being recognized in this way. It’s just too bad that Mark isn’t here to enjoy the moment.”
After signing Palmer, McCormack went on to round out golf’s “big three” clients when he signed Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. While his client roster grew to include professional athletes representing many sports around the globe, he remained involved in golf throughout his life, including negotiating Tiger Woods’ first contract in 1996.
“McCormack’s business intuition, dedication and hard work had a profound impact on the business of sports as we know it today,” said Timothy W. Finchem, World Golf Foundation Chairman and PGA TOUR Commissioner. “The game of golf and the many organizations and people involved in it have greatly benefited because of his efforts.”
In 1966, McCormack formed IMG’s media division, TWI, which became the world’s largest non-network producer of televised sports, to film a selection of golf events. The production company grew under his watch to produce 6,000 hours of original sports television programming and 2,500 hours of radio programming. He built TWI to become the largest source of golf programming in the world. Today, IMG Media produces and distributes over 10,000 hours of sports and documentary programming annually across 200 countries.
During McCormack’s tenure, IMG began an events division in 1964 when it staged the first World Match Play Championship at Wentworth. McCormack continued to create, stage and build upon the success of many golf events throughout the world and expanded into tennis and fashion events, as well.
McCormack also is credited with developing the Official World Golf Rankings, a system that ranks the performance level of male professional golfers. He became the first chairman of the International Advisory Committee in 1986, which oversees the Official World Golf Ranking system, and remained in that post until his death on May 16, 2003.
Born in Chicago on November 6, 1930, McCormack was a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Yale Law School and served briefly in the U.S. Army. He wrote several best-selling books, including “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” and “Hit the Ground Running.” His accolades include being named by ESPN Sport Century one of the century’s ten “most influential people in the business of sport” (1999) and Sports Illustrated called him “the most powerful man in sports” (1990).
“McCormack’s story is one of global interest as he pioneered an industry and as a result, had an enormous impact on how golf as a business is shaped today,” said Jack Peter, sr. vice president and chief operating officer of the Hall of Fame. “The Hall of Fame will enjoy the responsibility of sharing his story – another grand story from the game – with our visitors.”
His golf career was not only in businesses but also as a player, having qualified for the 1958 U.S. Open and several U.S. and British Amateur Championships.
Other Hall of Fame members who have entered through the Lifetime Achievement category, which was instituted in 2000, are: Judy Bell, Deane Beman, Sir Michael Bonallack, Neil Coles, Bernard Darwin, Hisako “Chako” Higuchi, John Jacobs, Alister MacKenzie, Harvey Penick, Charlie Sifford and Karsten Solheim. Marilynn Smith, part of the 2006 Class of Inductees, also was selected in the Lifetime Achievement category.
World Golf Hall of Fame www.wgv.com