Many in the golf world were surprised when PGA President Ted Bishop was relieved of his duties this past Friday. Apparently Mr. Bishop engaged in a he-said/she-said fight on Twitter and FaceBook with Ian Poulter about a few comments Poulter had penned in his new book. Mr. Poulter (she-said) slammed Nick Faldo for some words the latter offered about Sergio Garcia’s Ryder Cup play in 2008. In this elementary schoolyard brawl he-said (Bishop) called she-said (Poulter) a little schoolgirl and the PCP (Political Correct Police) arrived faster than a brush fire with a tail wind. The incident resulted in the PGA Board of Directors removing Bishop from office, three weeks short of the expiration of his term.
For those believing this action stemmed from the he-said/she-said dialogue, you might as well go wax your shafts. There was a much larger issue between President Bishop and the PGA Board than lil’ schoolgirls. As the months passed on Bishop’s presidency it became known he was not the most popular kid on the PGA’s playground. The social media comments only served as a conduit to throw him under the school bus. Some sources within the Association have told me the Board did not approve of his actions while in office. Once the moment availed itself, they swooped in and pulled him off the course.
I’ve met Ted Bishop. I have not met Ian Poulter, Nick Faldo or Sergio Garcia. I can only speak about Bishop while I have observed him during the course of his tenure with the PGA. He has gotten behind programs to grow the game, a game that is experiencing dwindling play. I have seen him as a visible proponent of his association, much more so than any of his predecessors. He took a stand with the R&A and USGA regarding the ban of long putters. I did not always agree with him but I liked the way he stood up and spoke his mind.
His selection of Tom Watson as Ryder Cup Captain may be seen as the ultimate failure but to me it was a brilliant move. Watson and Bishop did not hit one single shot at Gleneagles yet they are taking the hit for the American’s loss. The fact is our team did not play as well as the Europeans – case closed. Many of Team USA’s players don’t understand when it comes down to competition you stick your tee in the ground, grind it out, play your best and shake hands at the end. This bunch didn’t step up for themselves through their play or their captain by way of respect. Instead they laid the blame at his feet on Scottish soil. Imagine if Ben Hogan were their captain? The fact is Hogan would have little to do with these players. They wouldn’t comprehend his simple message – go out and win.
I suspect some within the ranks did not approve of Bishop’s visibility. Perhaps they expected him to cow-tow a bit more but I don’t believe that is Ted Bishop. Bishop is used to calling the shots, cutting through the crap and getting things done. He is the owner of The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana. When you are the owner of a business you make decisions, probably don’t sit in on too many committee meetings, pay the bills and administer the operation to the best of your ability. Contrast this to other PGA Professionals who may work at member-owned facilities, make decisions through committees, have to justify their job performance to a board of directors, and bite their tongues on too many occasions in order to remain employed. They are two different worlds. Bishop didn’t want to operate under those constraints so he became a facility owner. He is used to doing it on his own. That work ethic in my view is worthy of respect.
At a time when the PGA (an association I often don’t understand and I’ve been a member since 1986) needed some leadership and visibility, Ted Bishop stepped up. His presence put an identity on the Association’s involvement for many of the initiatives promoting the game.
But in this day and age the temptations of social media can sabotage careers quicker than a double-cross. Should he have known better? Yes. Frankly, Ian Poulter is not worth the effort to jeopardize one’s standing in the golf world. Yet it happened. Bishop is going to pay a severe penalty, a penalty that in my estimation is unwarranted. His two comments do not outweigh the efforts and hours he has put in serving the PGA the last (almost) two years. Perhaps he is the victim of being his own person (politically correct term) but in the end isn’t that what all of us should aspire to?
My wife and I were watching the fallout from this decision Friday night on the Golf Channel. When I told her about the situation she asked, “How is this worse than Bill Maher calling Sarah Pallin the “c-word? Nothing happened to him.”
Or maybe Don Imus calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “a bunch of nappy-headed ho’s.” I see him now in the mornings on Fox Business News. He resurfaced without suffering too much damage.
Or the next time I’m playing with three male friends and I leave a putt woefully short, one of them utters, “Nice putt, Alice….” Should I ask the ranger to have him removed from the course never to return?
I could go on but why? Many folks in prominent positions have uttered things much worse than Ted Bishop and have suffered little if any consequence. What he did may have been in poor taste and lacked judgment. However ask yourself this question – does the punishment fit the crime? As I said previously there have been many times when I did not understand the actions of my Association. This represents one of them. Questions about Bishop’s removal should be asked of each member of the PGA Board. What were their reasons from throwing a “death-penalty” at him? That is where the truth lies but unfortunately is not likely to ever be known. It will all slowly dissolve once all of the lil’ school children (I checked with the PCP) are called in from recess. Somehow this scorecard doesn’t add up.