The reaction to the PGA of America’s decision to impeach and remove its president Ted Bishop can, at best, be described as ‘mixed’.
The 38th figurehead of the soon-to-be-100-year-old organisation was ousted by its Board of Directors following what it termed a ‘gender insensitive’ dig at Ian Poulter. The Englishman found himself in Bishop’s crosshairs after criticising former Ryder Cup captains Sir Nick Faldo and Tom Watson in his new autobiography.
On Twitter, Bishop referred to Poulter as a ‘lil girl’. On Facebook, he likened him to ‘a little school girl squealing during recess’.
The backlash was ferocious, the action was swift. On Friday evening, a little over 24 hours after posting the offending messages (which were, incidentally, subsequently deleted) Bishop was removed from a post he was, in any case, due to vacate in a month’s time. Not just that, his right to become an honorary president of the PGA was revoked and his near two-year stint at the helm was struck from the association’s record books.
It will be as though he was never here, which, according to many, is a heavy price to pay for a moment – rather two moments – of madness.
Barely had the news of his departure been released than the cries of ‘over-reaction’ began.
But I’m not so sure that it was.
Hey, look, we all make mistakes. I know I have. But, then, I’m not the president of a major international sporting organisation, elected by my peers to represent the views of my 27,000 male and female colleagues.
By removing Ted Bishop, the PGA has demonstrated a zero tolerance attitude towards discriminatory behaviour.
This is the petard by which Bishop has been hoist, and rightly so. To coin a saying, with great power comes great responsibility. A person in Bishop’s position cannot afford to make comments that can in any way be construed as prejudicial or discriminatory. The implication in his messages was that women are in some way inferior to men. That, we should assume, is not what he truly believes but it was the implication of his comments. If not, why didn’t he call Poulter a ‘lil boy’ or a ‘lil child’?
No-one is saying he’s sexist, nor should they be. That would be absurd. Even so, he made a remark that could be construed as such, and that’s not good enough.
It undermines his position and it makes the PGA of America look bad. It also needlessly arms the noisy disapprovers, who observe golf from afar and (wrongly) condemn it as misogynistic and archaic.
By removing him, the PGA has demonstrated a zero tolerance attitude towards discriminatory behaviour, no matter how big or small. It has acted with certainty and without equivocation. I applaud that. We should, in my opinion, be pleased about that. It’s unfortunate it has cost a man his reputation but better his than golf’s.
That’s the crux of my message to those calling the move an ‘over-reaction’. Would they really have preferred that Ted Bishop kept his job (for one more month) and, in return, golf’s vulnerable reputation took another battering?
I've seen it said that the punishment didn't fit the crime. But Bishop's crime wasn't necessarily just the messages he posted online. Rather it would have been the widespread negative impact on the game's image had he not been removed.
It’s tough on Bishop but, as soon he hit ‘Send’ on those messages, his removal was the only sensible outcome.
The reputation of the game, after all, matters far more than that of one of its temporary guardians.
Do you agree with the decision to remove Ted Bishop from office?
Michael McEwan thinks that the PGA of America was right to relive president Ted Bishop of his duties - but what do you think? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.