Timeline: Ted Bishop's PGA presidency

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 26, 2014, 6:05 am

Nov. 10, 2012 - At its 96th annual meeting, the PGA of America elects Ted Bishop, who since 1991 has been general manager and director of golf at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Ind., a 45-hole complex that is home to the Indiana PGA Section and Indiana Golf Association, as its 38th president. As with all PGA presidents, his term is for two years.

Nov. 10, 2012 - At the same annual meeting, the PGA names Peter Bevacqua as its newest chief executive officer, replacing Joe Steranka, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the year.

Dec. 13, 2012 - Tom Watson is officially named captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Watson, who previously captained the victorious 1993 U.S. team, says Bishop approached him about serving another term as captain 13 months ago. Bishop was so determined to have Watson return as captain, he produced an 85-page document detailing the reasons why the eight-time major champion should get a return engagement.

February 2013 - Bishop says he is "totally in concert" with the PGA Tour's stance against the USGA and R&A's proposed ban on anchoring putters. He also says many PGA of America members who originally supported the proposed ban now oppose it.

March 2013 - Bishop writes a column that says the proposed anchoring ban "has become one of the most divisive issues that modern-day golf has seen. The PGA of America feels that there is no logical reason to proceed with Rule 14-1b." Bishop also states his belief that a ban would lead to bifurcation - pros and amateurs operating under two different sets of rules.

April 2013 - According to a story in Golf World, Bishop and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson have a testy exchange at the Masters over the proposed anchoring ban. Bishop says the PGA of America is standing up for the "best interests of the amateur golfer." Dawson replies, "That's not your role." Later, when Bishop tells Dawson he hopes he doesn't take their exchange personally, Dawson replies that "irreparable damage" had been done.

April 2013 - In an interview with Golf World senior writer and Golf Channel contributor Tim Rosaforte, Bishop criticizes the R&A's male-only membership policy: "I find that to be very curious and perplexing given the fact that the R&A has not been inclusive as evidenced by their unwillingness to accept women as members to the R&A. This is a much different approach than we have taken in America.”

May 21, 2013 - The USGA and R&A formally announce a ban on the anchored stroke. Rule 14-1b is to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published.

Oct. 22, 2013 - Bishop is inducted into the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame. Bishop is a native of Logansport, Ind., graduated from Purdue and began his career as a professional and superintendent at the Phil Harris Golf Course in Linton, Ind. From 1997-98, he served as president of the Indiana PGA section, and was the 1998 Indiana PGA Golf Professional of the Year.

Nov. 14, 2013 - Speaking on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive," Bishop says he would like to see a PGA Championship played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. He later explains that he was simply offering a “personal opinion” and not one necessarily as president of the PGA of America.

February 2014 - Bishop and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem make one final appeal to the USGA to consider a grandfather period that would allow recreational amateurs to continue using anchored clubs after 2016.

March 5, 2014 - The USGA rejects a grandfather period for anchoring.

March 12, 2014 - With trends continuing to show that Americans are playing less golf, the PGA of America announces it has created a 10-person task force to combat an overall decline in play through "non-traditional" means. Among the ideas offered by Bishop during an appearance on "Morning Drive" are "foot golf," where players navigate the course by kicking a soccer ball toward a 21-inch hole, and introducing a "more relaxed set of rules" for recreational players. Bishop also proposes having a time clock in pro shops, where players who don't have enough time to play nine or 18 holes could "punch in" and "punch out," receiving a prorated greens fee based on the amount of time they spent on the course.

April 2014 - Speaking at a meeting of the Louisville Rotary Club, Bishop floats the idea of keeping the Ryder Cup matches at Valhalla Golf Club when they are contested in the U.S. every four years.

June 20, 2014 - Bishop announces that a long-drive contest for players, which had been an on-and-off part of PGA Championship week until 1985, when it became a separate event now known as the Remax World Long Drive Championship, will be brought back for this year's PGA Championship at Valhalla.

July 22, 2014 - A report by ESPN.com says that more than 500 PGA professionals were let go after Dick’s Sporting Goods fired all of the full-time professionals in its golf sections.

July 29, 2014 - Bishop announces a two-year arrangement under which the boys’ and girls’ winners at the Junior PGA Championship will get exemptions into a PGA Tour and an LPGA event, respectively.

Sept. 13, 2014 - Rickie Fowler says Bishop apologized to him for the way the PGA Championship ended because of fading daylight, with eventual winner Rory McIlroy allowed to tee off on the final hole while Phil Mickelson and Fowler were still playing the hole.

Sept. 23, 2014 - Following the lead of Fowler, Bishop has "USA" shaved into the side of his head for the Ryder Cup.

Sept. 28, 2014 - At Gleneagles in Scotland, Europe hands the U.S. its eighth loss in the past 10 Ryder Cups, The final score is 16 1/2 to 11 1/2.

Oct. 14, 2014 - In response to much hand-wringing over yet another U.S. Ryder Cup loss, especially critical comments by Phil Mickelson during the post-match news conference, the PGA announces the creation of an 11-member task force that will examine the U.S. Ryder Cup process, from how captains and players are selected to the schedule of events and how the team prepares for the matches. The panel will include incoming PGA of America president Derek Sprague and CEO Pete Bevacqua, former Ryder Cup captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III, plus Tiger Woods and Mickelson. Paul Azinger, the only winning U.S. captain (2008) since 1999, declines an offer to join the group, but doesn't rule out participating in the future. 

Oct. 23, 2014 - Bishop goes on social media and calls Ian Poulter a "Lil Girl" for Poulter's cricical comments about Nick Faldo in Poulter's recently released autobiography. Poulter, in a statement released exclusively to Golf Channel, calls Bishop's remarks "shocking and disappointing. Is being called a "lil girl" meant to be derogatory or a put down?" Poulter tells Golf Channel. "That's pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America. No further comment."

Oct. 24, 2014 - The PGA of America announces it has removed Bishop from office "for insensitive gender-based statements posted yesterday on social media" and promotes Derek Sprague from vice president to interim president until Nov. 22, when the election of new national officers will take place at the PGA annual meeting. Bishop issues his own statement in which he apologizes for his remarks, explains why he refused to resign ("because I wanted to speak to our PGA Board of Directors, offer a personal apology and let the due process take place in this matter"), calls his ouster an "impeachment" and reveals that the PGA "has also informed me that I will not become the Honorary President nor will I ever be recognized as a Past President in our Association’s history."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.

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Tour's Integrity Program raises gambling questions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

The video begins with an eye-opening disclaimer: “Sport betting markets produce revenues of $1 trillion each year.”

For all the seemingly elementary elements of the 15-minute video PGA Tour players have been required to watch as part of the circuit’s newly created Integrity Program, it’s the enormity of the industry – $1 trillion annually – that concerns officials.

There are no glaring examples of how sport betting has impacted golf, no red flags that sent Tour officials into damage control; just a realization that with that kind of money it’s best to be proactive.

“It's important that in that world, you can operate not understanding what's happening week in and week out, or you can assume that all of our players and everybody in our ecosystem understands that that's not an acceptable activity, or you can just be proactive and clarify and educate,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan explained earlier this month. “That's what we have attempted to do not with just the video, but with all of our communication with our players and will continue to do that.”

But if clarification is the goal, a copy of the training video obtained by GolfChannel.com paints a different picture.

Although the essence of the policy is straightforward – “prohibit players from betting on professional golf” – the primary concern, at least if the training video is any indication, is on match fixing; and warns players to avoid divulging what is considered “inside information.”

“I thought the questions were laughable. They were all like first-grade-level questions,” Chez Reavie said. “I would like to think everyone out here already knows the answer to those questions. But the Tour has to protect themselves.”

Monahan explained that the creation of the integrity policy was not in reaction to a specific incident and every player asked last week at the Sony Open said they had never encountered any type of match fixing.

“No, not at all,” Reavie said. “I have friends who will text me from home after a round, ‘Oh, I bet on you playing so-and-so.’ But I make it clear I don’t want to know. I don’t gamble like that. No one has ever approached me about losing a match.”

It was a common answer, but the majority of the video focuses on how players can avoid being placed in a compromising situation that could lead to match fixing. It should be noted that gamblers can place wagers on head-to-head matchups, provided by betting outlets, during stroke-play rounds of tournaments – not just in match-play competitions.

Part of the training video included questions players must answer to avoid violating the policy. An example of this was how a player should respond when asked, “Hello, buddy! Well played today. I was following your progress. I noticed your partner pulled out of his approach on 18, looked like his back. Is he okay for tomorrow?”

The correct answer from a list of options was, “I don’t know, sorry. I’m sure he will get it looked at if it’s bothering him.”

You get the idea, but for some players the training created more questions.

How, for example, should a player respond when asked how he’s feeling by a fan?

“The part I don’t understand, let’s say a member of your club comes out and watches you on the range hitting balls, he knows you’re struggling, and he bets against you. Somehow, some way that could come back to you, according to what I saw on that video,” said one player who asked not to be identified.

Exactly what constitutes a violation is still unclear for some who took the training, which was even more concerning considering the penalties for a violation of the policy.

The first violation is a warning and a second infraction will require the player to retake the training program, but a third violation is a fine “up to $500,000” or “the amount illegally received from the betting activity.” A sixth violation is a lifetime ban from the Tour.

Players are advised to be mindful of what they post on social media and to “refrain from talking about odds or betting activity.” The latter could be an issue considering how often players discuss betting on other sports.

Just last week at the Sony Open, Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas had a “friendly” wager on the College Football Playoff National Championship. Kisner, a Georgia fan, lost the wager and had to wear an Alabama football jersey while playing the 17th hole last Thursday.

“If I'd have got the points, he'd have been wearing [the jersey], and I was lobbying for the points the whole week, and he didn't give them to me,” Kisner said. “So I'm still not sure about this bet.”

It’s unclear to some if Kisner’s remark, which was a joke and didn’t have anything to do with golf, would be considered a violation. From a common sense standpoint, Kisner did nothing wrong, but the uncertainty is an issue.

Much like drug testing, which the Tour introduced in 2008, few, if any, think sport betting is an issue in golf; but also like the anti-doping program, there appears to be the danger of an inadvertent and entirely innocent violation.

The Tour is trying to be proactive and the circuit has a trillion reasons to get out in front of what could become an issue, but if the initial reaction to the training video is any indication they may want to try a second take.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.