Michael Bamberger clearly spent a lot of time with new PGA President Ted Bishop and filed a lengthy story for SI Golf Plus that is worth your time. Mostly because there is some great behind the scenes info on Bishop and the battles being fought behind closed doors by the five families, along with some fun commentary by Bamberger thrown in. This is the kind of thing that should win a GWAA writing award, but won't.
Again, hit the link or read your print copy this week, I'm just documenting some of the highlights for the archives here...
Bishop and Bevacqua were having dinner at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines when Davis and Glen Nager, the USGA president, asked if they could join them. The four talked for the better part of an hour about their many shared interests: speeding up play, increasing junior participation, making golf more accessible to disabled players, water usage, the many people they know in common. Henry Kissinger likes to say that history is dictated by personality, and it’s possible this amicable hour of golf chat will prove to be significant. But not likely. Two days later, when referring to a Golf World story about Davis and Nager that ran under the headline Trail Blazers, Bishop was almost smirking. He doesn’t think they are trailblazers. Of course, Nager and Davis don’t see themselves as trailblazers, either. They are trying to defend challenge as an essential golfing value. And for Bishop, that’s where the conflict arises.
Bishop is not a fan of a distance rollback...
The real issue in the debate goes much deeper than whether the butt end of the putter depresses human flesh. Bishop believes that if the ban goes through without a major hitch, it will empower and embolden the USGA. “I think their next step will be to try to slow down the golf ball,” Bishop said last month in his pro shop at Legends.
While we'll slap Bishop a two-stroke penalty for point-missing a possible distance rollback, but he gets points for this. Brace yourselves, this may be the last time you read the words "Glory's Last Shot."
For the PGA, and maybe for everybody, the secret weapon in this whole thing is Bevacqua, who joined the PGA of America in November, hired by a committee on which Bishop sat. (Bishop also was instrumental in recruiting Dottie Pepper to the PGA board of directors; eliminating the catchphrase “Glory’s Last Shot” from the PGA Championship marketing playbook; and initiating a thorough examination of the PGA’s TV contracts.)
Let's hope they are looking at the language that lets CBS show a promo for every shot shown on television.
This, regarding the PGA's State of the Game panel at the show, where the USGA did not participate despite efforts to get someone on the stage.
He decided the best answer would come from the USGA itself. Julius Mason, a PGA of America communications official, contacted Goode, who sent this response by e-mail: “The USGA has a number of senior leaders in attendance at this year’s show. Mike Davis, however, is preparing for the Association’s Annual Meeting.” During the proceedings, Mason wrote Goode’s response in a reporter’s notebook, ripped out the page and handed it to the panel’s moderator, Damon Hack of Golf Channel. Nobody asked about the USGA’s absence, and the statement was never read. A lost opportunity all the way around.
And in the "Where's Inga Hammond" files, you have your answer and it sounds like she's doing some sound work based on what's gone on so far in the Bishop era.
Your neighborhood PGA professional is not typically a modernist. Bishop—married to Cindy for 36 years with two daughters in the golf business—is. Before assuming the PGA presidency he hired Inga Hammond, the former Golf Channel broadcaster, for intense media training, paying for it himself. Before Watson was named Ryder Cup captain, Bishop again hired Hammond to work with Watson, himself and Bevacqua. When Watson was asked about his relationship with Tiger Woods, he had a canned answer all teed up. The basic message of Hammond’s coaching is to encourage her clients to be open. It seems to come naturally to Bishop.