Punch Shot: What punishment did Bishop deserve?


The PGA of America removed Ted Bishop on Friday as president relating to his social media comments regarding Ian Poulter. In doing so, the organization said Bishop "will not serve on the board of directors in the role of honorary president, nor will he be granted the rights and privileges of a past president in our governance structure." Was the punishment too severe? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with how the PGA should have dealt with Bishop.


There is no defense for Ted Bishop.

His decision to take to Twitter with an insensitive and sophomoric jab at Ian Poulter is, in legal terms, nolo contendere. The PGA of America’s decision to remove him as the association’s president less than 24 hours after the fact is not so obvious.

Bishop’s reference to Poulter as a “Lil Girl” is, without question, a blow to an organization whose primary purpose is to grow the game from every corner of the population, but with a month left in his term, excommunication seems extreme.

“I don’t think the punishment fits the crime,” Bishop told Golf World this week.

Censure and a media gag order – which might have been difficult to enforce with Bishop, who has been the PGA’s most outspoken president – would seem to be a more appropriate response, but in this case other circumstances likely factored into the final decision.

According to the Golf World report, not a single member of the 21-person PGA board of directors voted to keep Bishop in office, an indication of how serious the association took Bishop’s comments and perhaps the level of resentment and distrust he had created over his two years in office.

In this case Bishop was correct, the punishment did not fit the crime.


Ted Bishop’s sanction could have included a chance to rehabilitate his record and image within the PGA’s leadership structure.

Yes, he had to go as president, his betrayal of one of the association’s fundamental causes in a clumsy, juvenile social media assault on European Ryder Cupper Ian Poulter demanded as much. His forced removal means he won’t serve on the board of directors as honorary president, and he won’t be granted the rights and privileges of a past president. There’s a lost opportunity in the abandonment.

Contrition can be a powerful factor in change, and nobody’s probably more motivated today to prove he really is committed to bringing “little girls” into the game than Bishop. There’s the ultimate teaching lesson here somewhere for Bishop and the PGA of America. There's a lot of work to be done growing the game in more inclusive ways while showing the world recovery skills are part of the game.


I've never been a fan of expungements, like the kind in college sports, where a title is vacated because of a rule infraction. If you can't erase it from my memory, then you shouldn't be able to erase it from the record books.

So it's good to hear that, despite earlier rumors, Ted Bishop's presidency won't be expunged by the PGA of America. If we can't forget his term, then neither should the figurative Hall of Records.

The organization's board of directors likewise made the right call in not allowing Bishop to serve in the honorary capacity reserved for other past presidents. If they had, then impeaching him with just 29 days left in his presidency would have felt like nothing but a silly slap on the wrist - a four-week "suspension" during which he was likely only ushering in the next regime, anyway.

The PGA needed to make a statement, and it did. The board won't expunge Bishop from its records, but it won't celebrate his reign, either. Seems like the right call on both counts.


Ted Bishop’s comments deserved a significant punishment, but the sentence the PGA of America chose does not fit the crime.

Bishop was essentially dishonorably discharged less than a month before his term as president was set to end, so it makes sense that he would not move immediately into the new position of honorary president. But Bishop’s achievements during his 23-month stint in office were significant, and the notion that he will never again be honored in the parade of past presidents at various PGA functions and tournaments is overly harsh.

A proper punishment would have included his swift exit, along with a public apology and a personal re-dedication to the organization’s diversity efforts. He would have lost his chance to take a spot on the board of directors as an honorary president, but an effort to strip him of his standing among the organization’s past presidents wasn’t necessary.