Friday, November 30, 2012


To see or hear Ted Bishop on Anchoring. click the link.

On Wednesday, the Royal & Ancient and the United States Golf Association (USGA), golf’s governing bodies, announced changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. The following three paragraphs are from the USGA released statement.
“The proposed Rule 14-1b, which follows an extensive review by the R&A and the USGA, would prohibit strokes made with the club or a hand gripping the club held directly against a player’s body, or with a forearm held against the body to establish an anchor point that indirectly anchors the club.
The proposed Rule would not alter current equipment rules and would allow the continued use of all conforming clubs, including belly-length putters, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke. The proposed Rule narrowly targets only a few types of strokes, while preserving a golfer’s ability to play a wide variety of strokes in his or her individual style.
The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf. This timetable would also provide an extended period in which golfers may, if necessary, adapt their method of stroke to the requirement of the Rule.”
The game of golf has existed for over 600 years. During that time, players have been allowed to anchor the club on any stroke. It begs the question, why now?
Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Champion, had these comments.  “To say they will ban this after we’ve won majors is unbelievable. It’s the way we’ve practiced and made our living. Some players have put in 15 to 20 years of practice and all of a sudden they’re going to make up a rule. That’s harsh.”
In the past couple of years, the number of players using long, anchored putters has surged dramatically both on the professional tours and in the amateur ranks. Three of the last five major championship winners used long, anchored putters. Webb Simpson who won the 2012 U.S. Open joins Bradley and Els as the three major winners since August of 2011.
At this year’s PGA Championship. An estimated 50 of the 156 competitors used long putters, although not all were anchored. That being said, there is clearly no statistical data from any professional Tour that would indicate there is any advantage to anchoring a long putter. In fact, the average ranking of those players using long putters among the top one hundred in the World Golf Rankings is over 50. There does not appear to be any data that suggests that anchoring a golf club results in an unfair advantage.
Long putters have been around since the 1930’s. Johnny Miller topped Payne Stewart by a stroke to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 1987. Orville Moody won the 1989 U.S. Senior Open using a 50-inch putter that he tucked to his chest. Shortly after, the USGA approved the use of long putters, deciding the method was not detrimental to the game. Moody had threatened legal action if the club was banned.
The list goes on. Rocco Mediate won at Doral in 1991 using a 49-inch putter anchored to his sternum.  Paul Azinger used a 54-inch putter that he pressed to his sternum to win the Sony Open in 2000. Colt Knost won the U.S. Amateur Championship at the Olympic Club using a belly putter. Then in 2007, Adam Scott used a 49-inch putter that he anchored below his chin to win the Bridgestone Invitational.
Why the ban on anchoring now? It’s tough to swallow the argument that it has nothing to do with the most recent major championships being decided with a long putter, anchored.
Mike Davis, USGA Executive Director, has said that anchoring has been on the radar of golf’s governing bodies for the past two decades. He says the main objections to anchoring are that it looks bad and it does not conform to the intended stroke that golf’s founding fathers envisioned.
But, while the USGA and R&A are primarily concerned with the competitive side of the anchoring debate, the PGA of America has concerns on how a ban on anchoring could affect the industry’s growth of the game efforts.
“The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have a huge amount of respect for them in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. Our mission is to grow the game, and on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to consider the impact this may have on people’s enjoyment of the game and the growth of the game.”—Ted Bishop, President, PGA of America. This was the official statement from the PGA.
Last week the PGA conducted a poll of its members.  The participation rate was extremely high (roughly 16%, or 4,228 of our membership) which illustrates the importance of this particular issue. Nearly two thirds (63%) of the respondents indicated that they do not favor a ban. The reasons were varied but consistent themes regarding the negative impact a ban could have on both the growth and enjoyment of the game became readily apparent.
The PGA of America believes that golf is the greatest of all games. We also believe that we need to continue to do what is necessary to preserve all that makes it unique, and consistent with our mission, take actions to grow the game. PGA members are truly the connection between the game and its participants.
In the end, the people that may pay the biggest price are the average golfers who have switched their method of putting to avoid back problems, overcome unsteady nerves and increase their enjoyment in the game.  
Why now?

New President

The only way that I can describe the past few days is WOW. Sometime around 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, I became the 38th President of the PGA of America. This was a very unlikely set of circumstances for someone who grew up as a kid throwing baseballs and bouncing basketballs in my hometown of Logansport.
My first experience with golf was watching the CBS Golf Classic on Saturdays during the winters back in the late 1960’s. The show was a taped re-broadcast of two man best ball matches staged at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Even though my father did not play golf I was intrigued with the sport and certainly by what the players were wearing. It was a cool game played by a bunch of flashy guys wearing plaid slacks and bright colored shirts.
My dad was a barber and my mom a school teacher. My family had modest means, but I never went without anything I needed as a kid. Still, it was inconceivable that I would own a set of golf clubs at an early age because I had a father who was not a golfer and there wasn’t a bunch of extra money floating around to afford me access even at the local public course.
I mowed yards in my neighborhood and saved up enough money to go to a local hardware store and buy a single golf club- it was a George Fazio model 7-iron. As I recall, this was when I was 13 years old and I even had enough money left over to buy a cheap sleeve of golf balls.
The next thing I had to do was find a golf course. I lived three blocks from Tower Park and a couple of buddies of mine, whose father’s played golf, would meet at the park with our 7-irons and a some golf balls in our pockets. We created a course which was comprised of lamp posts. We would play from lamp post to lamp post, sometimes putting dings on them upon finishing the hole. We never deemed par on the hole, it was all based around how many shots it took to hit the lamp post.
I am the same kid who created a game of baseball with two dice and who would go through an entire 162-game season laying on the floor of my living room. I would do the play by play. I would score the games and keep the stats for the entire season. Even though I was a diehard Yankee fan, I would pick a team like the Washington Senators to play the season out. This way I could over achieve results with a crappy team. I have always been the classic over achiever.
When I was 17 years old I got a summer job working at the Rolling Hills Par 3 Golf Course. We had 18 holes, a lighted driving range and a miniature golf course. It was Caddy Shack before the world was introduced to the famous movie. I worked the entire summer of 1970 and never hit a golf ball. My time off was consumed playing basketball and American legion baseball.
I started playing golf during the summer of 1971. I would take a handful of clubs with a putter and play the par three course. At Rolling Hills you needed nothing more than a 6-ron through the wedge. Lots of guys didn’t even carry a bag. We just kept the balls and tees in our pockets. No dress code was in effect, so I played shirtless on many occasions. My dad soon started playing and golf became an activity that we enjoyed together every Sunday afternoon while I was home from college. 
Upon graduation from Purdue in 1976 to be a golf course superintendent, I took a job in Linton as the pro/superintendent. In my infinite wisdom, I was offered the job and initially turned it down because I had to make my money doing the things a golf pro does. I reconsidered and wound up working there for 17 years before coming to Franklin.
While In Linton I met Phil Harris, the great entertainer who was born in that coal mining town in Southwester Indiana. Phil and I worked together to create the largest celebrity golf tournament in the United States. We played 600 players over two days. There were four 150 player shotgun starts (25 teams with 6 players) during the weekend. Thanks to Phil we had some of the biggest names in entertainment, golf and the sporting world. It was pretty amazing when you consider the town had one motel and was over two hours from the nearest major airport.
I got my PGA membership in August of 1985. It took me five attempts to pass my Playing Ability Test (PAT). I missed it by five shots; two shots; one shot twice and eventually hit the target score of 157 right on the number. I was the proverbial “choking freakin’ dog” as I needed to pass the PAT before I could start the path to PGA membership.
My entire career has been spent in the Indiana PGA. I was elected to the Indiana PGA Board of Directors in 1988. From there I guess you could say the rest is history some 24 years later. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever envisioned myself as the 38th President of the PGA of America.
Last Saturday night my good friend Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, pulled off a big surprise. He showed up at the PGA’s Farewell Reception in Baltimore with John Harbaugh, head coach, and Jim Caldwell, former Colts coach and now Ravens’ quarterback coach.
Harbaugh presented me with a game used #12 Ravens jersey with Bishop sewn on the back. It was symbolic of my election as President in 2012 in the City of Baltimore. For those that don’t know, the #12 is worn by Jacoby Jones, Ravens wide receiver and kick returner. On Sunday, Jones, #12, returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown in Baltimore’s 55-20 victory over Oakland. That has to be a good omen for the next two years of this Presidency!
This ascension with the PGA might be one of the most unlikely stories in the history of golf. Here’s a kid who didn’t grow up playing golf; who was destined to be a golf course superintendent and not a golf pro; who somehow made it to the top of his profession. There have been plenty of pot holes along the road. Many days have been filled with more challenges and heartbreak than joy.
I guess it just goes to show that anything really is possible. Here’s a big thanks to all that made it possible and that list is far too long to mention. Today, I truly am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. 

Annual Meeting

It’s hard to describe the magnitude of this week for me personally. On Saturday afternoon in Baltimore, my name will be placed in nomination for the President of the PGA of America. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it will be a situation that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would have cherished as I will most likely run unopposed.
That wasn’t the case in 2006 when I first decided to embark on this PGA Officer’s journey. I entered the race for Secretary as a new candidate. I chose to run against four men who had each lost in the 2004 election for PGA Secretary. In the history of the PGA, most Officers had to run more than once to get elected.
In 2006, I set a record that may never be broken. I became the only candidate to have more than 40 votes in the first ballot, lead after two ballots and lose the election on the third ballot. Traditionally there are approximately 110 ballots cast at our Annual Meeting. Each of the 41 PGA Sections has two votes for a total of 82. There are 14 National Directors; 3 Officers and usually about a dozen living Past Presidents who all vote.
Allen Wronowski, the current President, is the guy that won that ’06 election. He hails from Phoenix, MD and has been at Hillendale Country Club for over 30 years as an assistant and head golf professional. Wronowski worked for former PGA President Bill Clark and Allen was himself a loser of a tough election in 2004, which was decided on the seventh ballot.
I returned in 2008 and was opposed by Ted O’Rourke from New Jersey. He and I served on the PGA Board of Directors together. I won the ’08 election on the first ballot. PGA Officers serve two years as Secretary; two as Vice President and then two as President. Following that, an Officer serves a two-year stint as the Honorary President which means you are on the PGA Board of Directors and you serve in an advisory role when called upon by the Executive Committee.
As President my duties will include presenting the championship trophies at the PGA Championship, Senior PGA, PGA Grand Slam of Golf and I will represent the United States delegation at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland. More importantly each day of my life for the next two years, I will represent our 27,000 PGA members and apprentices. The PGA of America is the largest working sports organization in the world today.
On Saturday, Derek Sprague from Malone, NY should be elevated to PGA Vice President and one of seven candidates will become the new PGA Secretary. Assuming I get elected on Saturday, I will become the 38th President in the history of the PGA of America. Considering the PGA was founded in 1916 and it has had thousands of members since, it’s pretty daunting to think that I will be only the 38th man in its history to be President.
I now serve on the PGA Tour Policy Board with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Paul Goydos and Harrison Frazar. That term will last for two years and then I will serve on the Champions Tour Policy Board. I will work closely with Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA Tour over the next couple of years. I will do the same with Mike Davis with the USGA as well as the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland.
My first order of business on Saturday will be to announce our new Chief Executive Officer to the delegation. Our current CEO, Joe Steranka, is retiring after a 25-year career with the PGA. That same night I will swap PGA golf bags for a Baltimore Ravens jersey. John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Jim Caldwell will make the presentation. I was in Cameron’s wedding and had a close relationship with Caldwell when he was with the Colts. Those three will be my guests at The Masters next spring.
Next week I will head to our headquarters to do media training and introduce our CEO to PGA Staff. On Wednesday, we will be involved with some Ryder Cup planning before I return home to Franklin, IN.
Thanksgiving Week I am off to Augusta National on Monday and Tuesday. We have a meeting scheduled with the tournament operations staff and then a round of golf on Tuesday morning. Can’t help but remember those Thanksgiving weeks when I rabbit hunted with my dad outside of Logansport. I could have never dreamt I would someday be playing Augusta National that same week.
The next week I will be hosting approximately 25 PGA Committee Chairs and PGA Staff at The Legends. We will be involved in a summit meeting of sorts trying to set the direction of the PGA. Right after that in early December, it’s onto the South California PGA meeting and then to Florida for more Officer Planning with our CEO and Staff.
Finally, it will be a week in New York City doing more media training and spending time with our broadcast partners from NBC, CBS and Turner Sports. That same week we hope to announce our next Ryder Cup Captain. After that, I look forward to heading home for the Holidays and taking a deep breath before the PGA Merchandise Show in late January.
I can honestly tell you that this phase of my life was not pre-meditated. It just evolved. When I got started with the Indiana PGA back in the 1980’s I would never have guessed where it would take me. After Saturday, I will join Mickey Powell and Don Padgett as the Hoosiers who have been PGA Presidents. It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two. Indiana is one of a handful of PGA Sections to have three Presidents.
This is something that I could never have imagined. But, I can’t wait for what lies ahead.                    

Ryder Cup Photo's

PGA Ladies ready for Opening Ceremonies
Opening ceremonies
Saturday Ashely and Ted hanging out on 14 tee.