Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

One British journalist called it the most rapid and unceremonious fall from grace in the history of golf. Jim Bishop, a deceased barber from Logansport, is probably looking down from his perch in Heaven and saying with a grin, “Ted that really was stupid.” But, Jim never shied away from an opinion either.  
It seems that everyone knows by now that I was impeached as President of the PGA of America on October 24 for comparing Ian Poulter, European Ryder Cup nemesis, to a little girl. It was a poor choice of words on my part. Some thought the remarks were sexist. My intent was to say that Poulter’s recent remarks about Tom Watson and Nick Faldo were childish. 
Sexist? Honestly, that thought never occurred to me. Less than two hours after my Facebook and Twitter comments  it was apparent to me that I had made a huge mistake. I immediately removed the social media posts. The PGA of America released a rather impersonal and vanilla statement that included no apology and my fate was sealed. I wanted to deeply apologize, but the PGA denied me the opportunity to make two appearances on Golf Channel early the following morning.
Ted Bishop became the latest casualty to PC- political correctness. Funny because two weeks ago I though PC was a personal computer. But, as President of the largest working sports organization in the world I had to be smarter. The PGA gave me plenty of media training. It afforded me the freedom to openly speak and express opinions. My term was scheduled to end on November 22, itself an infamous day. I shot myself 29 days ahead of schedule. 
Some have said my punishment did not fit the crime. Not only was I removed as President, but I lost my Honorary President status and was told that I would never have the rights and privileges of a PGA Past President. 
Golf.com is  a subsidiary of Sport Illustrated and it ran a poll this week. The question: “Did Ted Bishop deserve to lose his job?”  77 percent responded “No” and 23 percent said “Yes.” It doesn’t really matter because the PGA said yes. I was a volunteer in a non-profit Association. I did not get paid and spent over 370 days on the road in the past 23 months. Those who play golf at The Legends Golf Club can testify to that. PGA Officers only get reimbursed for travel and incidental expenses.  I took this on because I loved the PGA and what it stands for.
Do I still love the PGA? Honestly, not as much. Do I still believe what it stands for? I do, which is getting more people to play golf as well as promoting diversity and inclusion. In my 38-year golf career I have been an advocate for women in golf.
I am proud to say that I have two daughters who chose golf as a career. My 7-year stint as a volunteer assistant golf coach for the Franklin High School girls’ team was so much fun. We started the Indiana Women’s Open at The Legends and hosted it for 10 years. We were the home to the IHSAA Girls State Finals for 15 years. The list of girl’s and women’s events that The Legends has hosted is too long to list. The Central Indiana Chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association began at my course.
During my time as PGA President I called out the R&A for its exclusion of women as members. The PGA started a wonderful PGA Reach with the PGA Tour Wives Association at the last two PGA Championships which supported Habitat for Humanity and Blessings in a Backpack. The most gratifying thing I did this summer was coach my PGA Junior league team at The Legends, which included five little girls.
Sophia Bunker, mother of 6-year old Ava Bunker, who was on that PGA Junior League team sent me the following email last week. “I just wanted to send you and your family a major sincere Thank You for letting Ava be a part of the PGA Jr. League. When we moved to Indiana from Missouri with the Military it was really hard on Ava. When she heard she would be able to play in the PGA Jr. League she was so excited! We are so blessed that we had the opportunity to be part of an amazing team with such encouraging leaders! Thank you for all you did for Ava and believing in her! We SUPPORT you 100% and Ava can’t wait to play on your team next season! PS- Today was career day at her school, she dressed up as a Professional Golfer and says someday she dreams to be a LPGA President.”
The inspiration for this piece of writing came from Glen Nager, former USGA President. He called me Tuesday and offered friendship, encouragement and consolation. Ironically, Nager’s departure from the USGA was nearly as tumultuous as mine with the PGA. Both of us won’t be seen at future events for our respective Associations. Neither care. We were outspoken and progressive leaders for organizations we once loved.
Glen and I locked horns on the anchoring debate. We became public rivals and at times we were very combative as we argued for opposing stances that we sincerely believed in. We played golf together at Augusta National during the highly publicized “comment period” in the winter of 2013. As Nager departed a van we were riding in, my hand accidentally brushed his face and his glasses were knocked to the ground.
Nager smiled in the dark and said, “Wait until the press gets a hold of this.”
His advice to me was simple. Turn the corner and look forward. Appreciate my wonderful family and enjoy going to work every day at my golf course. He wisely advised me that you don’t get “do overs” in life. 
“Those who are fearful of mistakes don’t take the opportunity to make change,” Nager told me. “You should be proud of what you accomplished and the lives that you impacted. You have a forum in your writing and I encourage you to stay public and use it for the betterment of everyone who enjoys golf.”

And thanks to Glen Nager, of all people. He has helped me turn the corner and start the rest of my life.


  1. Interesting that the name 'Bishop' is synonymous with these distinct "honors"! Those of us that know you understand your intent and agree that the punishment is much too severe. Nager's right, "be proud of what you accomplished". I purchased an unused 'mulligan' in my last tournament. For what it's worth...it's all yours.

  2. Honestly PGA is run by bunch of F**LS. Every one knows lil girl comment meant Poulter was being childish and very immature in his comments about greats of game. I will bet 100% that other PGA members ganged up to take your job. Hopefully one day they will learn there lesson and return your dignity that you deserve.

  3. Ted, you were kind to come on my golf show a few months ago, I wonder if you would consider coming back on. My name is John Patrick of The Augusta Golf Show, the show airs in 11 SE markets and on iHeartRadio. You can reach me via e-mail at john@augustagolfshow.com

  4. The Ryder Cup should be taken over by the PGA Tour. The PGA of America may have the "rights" to it, but it obviously can't field a team of club pros. No one would watch. The PGA Tour has the ULTIMATE leverage in that it supplies the vital ingredients to the Ryder Cup --- the players. When you consider all of the risk taken on by the PGA Tour pros during their play, it's difficult to understand why the players haven't instructed Tim Finchem to do this already. (Just strongly negotiate a modest annual fee to be paid to the PGA of America by the PGA Tour as the quid pro quo.) The PGA Tour is owned and run by its players. Many millions of dollars are ridiculously going to the PGA of America's bloated bureacracy, when it could and should be going to the PGA Tour, its players, and their retirement funds. Wake up PGA Tour! As Donald Trump has said: "it's not personal, it's business". However, you, Ted Bishop, SHOULD take it personally given how you were thrown under the bus by the PGA of America. Call Tim Finchem and show him how this can be done given your "inside" knowledge. After all, turnabout is fair play. Emotions aside, the Ryder Cup will ACTUALLY be better for this.

  5. Ted, I think your (prior) "love" for the PGA of America had more to do with your "personal" aspirations to "move up the ladder" within it for self-gratification. Although it claims 27,000 members, if you ask 26,000 of them, they'll tell you that they dislike the PGA of America, they feel that little value is added to them, and they feel that they're being "held hostage" to the annual membership fee required of them to be "members". It's not unlike the federal government in that it largely exists to persist in keeping its ceremonial self afloat. Do most of the "members" even know that CEO Pete Beacqua is being paid about a million dollars a year? For what?

  6. Most of the 27,000 PGA of America members wash golf carts, re-fold shirts, pick up range balls, and answer phones. That's hardly a valuable or rewarding profession. The problem is that many young people get sucked into the golf busines thinking that it will be more than that. After "proving themselves" to their golf course manager that they have the "skills" to take golf bags out of trunks and wash the dirt off iron heads with a wet rag, several years end up going by and they find themselves 30 years-old with no job experience worthy of employment in nearly any other industry. So, many of them become trapped. Most jobs at golf courses, within this golf business perpetuated by the PGA of America, are dead-end occupations that actually do a great disservice to all but a miniscule few who ever ascend to a head pro job that barely pays enough to decently support a family. The rest find themselves sharing an apartment with others to split the rent, actually "playing" less golf themselves than if they weren't in the golf business at all, and looking back at 30 and wondering what they did with their lives. That's the cold, hard reality of it all. Explain this to the public, Ted, and help more young people not make this bad mistake with their lives.

    1. Very well said. The few who make it the top in the PGA is short list.

  7. Ted,

    Although I don't condone the comments you made and feel you should have known better, I still sympathize for you. One thing nobody can ever take away from you is your sense of accomplishment. You did some great things, and you still get to take that away from this experience moving forward. You're still in a position to do positive things and help grow the game of golf, so don't forget what you've set out to do. We all have lapses in judgement from time to time, yours happen to cost you.

    Best of luck in the future

  8. "Do I still love the PGA? Honestly, not as much." All this comment conveys is that you've not taken full, personal ownership of what happened as you stated during your Morning Drive mea culpa. I don't think you should have been fired, but this comment shows that you don't know how to control your mouth/fingers and ultimately that's what got you fired. If you continue to comment on the PGA, your statement about 'turning a corner' rings very hollow. Let it go!

  9. The PGA is only a small part of the Golfing Universe. You did a great job.. you will have other opportunities. You are not done dude...c'mon ..let's pick it up Mr. Bishop..let's GOOO!!!

  10. My dad Leo Fraser was president of the PGA in 1969 and 70. Like Mr. Bishop, he was progressive, creative and sometimes contoversial. He would be ashamed of the leaders of the PGA. From what I understand, this hurtful and overreaching decision was made by phone. How cowardly. Mr. Bishop should have been made to publicly apologize and also point out what he and the PGA do for womens golf. The leaders of the PGA acted like a bunch of little boys and girls.

  11. Be honest: Did Faldo grab your phone that night and make that post?