The rank and file are steamed and riled that PGA of America president Ted Bishop was fired. Local golf pros, at their annual fall meeting at Bethpage State Park Wednesday, decried what they saw as the unfairness of their leader losing his job over a social media faux pas.
Bishop was removed by the PGA's national board Friday for having called tour pro Ian Poulter a "Lil girl" in response to Poulter's criticism of Ryder Cup captains Nick Faldo and Tom Watson. The consensus at the Metropolitan PGA Fall Forum was that the firing, only a month before Bishop's term was scheduled to end, was excessive.
The PGA did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
"The more I thought about it, the more upset I got," said Greg Hurd, the North Hempstead Country Club pro. "There had to be a different way to handle it. For all the time and effort and service that he had put in, I just didn't feel the punishment fitted the crime."
Area pros are concerned that Bishop's reply to Poulter on Twitter and Facebook will define his legacy. They believe he should be remembered as the one who brought the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup to Bethpage Black. The announcement of those events, in 2019 and 2024, respectively, were among the highlights of his two years in the job.
Rick Meskell, head pro at the Meadow Brook Club, knows Bishop and feels sorry that he is being called "sexist" or not inclusionary. "The punishment really went over the top," Meskell said. "He did a lot of great things for the PGA. He was a great voice."
PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said in a statement last week after Bishop was fired: "We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example."
Said Bobby Heins of Old Oaks in Westchester and one of the section's most experienced head pros: "This seemed like everybody got in a room and there was no outside voice saying, 'Slow down.' My members didn't even know there was a PGA president until Ted Bishop came along because the others always toed the company line."
Southampton Golf Club pro emeritus Bob Joyce said, "As soon as I heard the news I emailed him: 'Ted, so many home runs, then one strike and you're out. Nothing is more unfair. Thank you for your service to the membership and the game.' "
Among the association members at the meeting was Bishop's daughter Ambry, coach of the women's golf team at St. John's University. She said that her father always has been a staunch advocate of women's golf and that he feels awful that many people will see him as having the opposite view.
She realizes he will not be an honored guest for the PGA and Ryder Cup at Bethpage, which will make each event bittersweet. "I can always know that he had a big part in that," she said, "and that it was near and dear to his heart."