The Pellucid Perspective - February 2013 - (Page 16)

THE LAST WORD Bishop’s tenure as PGA President promises deep breaths of fresh air C ontrary to popular lore, all new ideas do not necessarily originate in the Bay Area think-tanks or the Hollywood glamour culture of California, or in New York for that matter. For much of the next two years, it appears likely that the winds of change for a significant part of golf ’s hierarchy will emanate from America’s heartland in Franklin, Ind., where the PGA of America’s latest president, Ted Bishop, runs the Legends Golf Club when he’s not on a plane headed somewhere on PGA business. Whatever his two-year term as the PGA’s president brings, it’s a lock cinch not to be dull. In his first few months on the job, he has been the point man, along with new PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua, in delicately but firmly going toe to toe with the USGA and R&A over those organizations’ proposed rule change banning the anchored putting stroke. With noises being made about rolling back the distance capabilities of the golf ball as well, the concept of a bifurcated set of rules for pros and high level amateurs looms. Bishop admits that he is not necessarily in favor of that, but says that he recently responded to an industry poll as being in favor, based on the assumption that the anchoring ruling would become part of the Rules of Golf. Bishop generously shared some of his thoughts with me recently, and they were refreshing. Bishop sat in on several meetings with the PGA Tour players at the Farmers Invitational at Torrey Pines last month, when they heard from USGA Executive Director Mike Davis on the anchoring change and later discussed it with Tour officials. He was bound by confidentiality not to share the results of those discussions, but one (this one, anyway) got the impression that the players are not in favor of the change. As Bishop said, “It will be interesting to see how the USGA handles the comments. That’s where things could really get interesting.” The fact that Bishop and the PGA 16 The Pellucid PersPecTive leadership sent a much-publicized request that the USGA and R&A consider the potential impact of an anti-anchoring ruling on golf participation in general before issuing their final ruling was indicative that the game’s leadership is not on the same page, as the various bodies, at least publicly, have traditionally been. Also indicative of Bishop’s commitment to accurately representing the views of his PGA member constituency, he and Bevacqua initiated a poll late last year in which 4,200 PGA members responded to the question of whether or not they favored a ruling banning anchoring. Bishop said that 63 percent of those responding were opposed to the ruling, and he added, “I think if that same poll were done today, after all the discussion, that number would be considerably higher. I get a ton of calls and emails every day, and I can count on less than the fingers of one hand the number of those who oppose the stand we’ve taken [against the anchoring ruling]. I feel really good about the influence we’ve been able to have on this issue. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t afford to lose even one customer or one round of golf as an industry, and I’m afraid that’s what could happen if we ban anchoring.” Player development a key focus Player development has been the focus of numerous industry initiatives over the years, with varying degrees of followthrough and success, but Bishop is determined that the PGA play an aggressive leading role in carrying that torch forward through initiatives like Get Golf Ready and Golf 2.0. He pointed to the growth of Get Golf Ready, which has increased from around 1,450 facilities participating at the beginning of 2011 to over 3,100 today. Bishop said he feels the main reason for the program’s success is the on-course component in the introductory lesson program, which he says is key to Get Golf Ready statistics which show that over 80 percent of Get Golf Ready participants who complete the program stay involved in golf. As a corollary to that critical tracking process, Bishop said he will continue to impress upon PGA members the need to develop a system for tracking the money spent at their facilities by Get Golf Ready students in order to justify and increase that grassroots level grow-the-game support by facility owners. If Bishop’s willingness to confront the USGA is one indication that his presidential tour of duty will be anything but boring, there’s this, which would have been anathema, or even treasonous, for some of his predecessors to contemplate. “I think we might be at that point in time where we talk about the roughly 50 percent of facilities that are not PGA member-run,” Bishop said. “We need to think about how we can mentor those facilities to teach things like Get Golf Ready, even though they’re not PGA members. If the person giving the training is given the guidelines we have and teaches the program correctly, how can that not be good for the game overall? The fact that we’re even talking about that is surprising to some, I know, but we need to do it for the good of the game.” Bishop’s willingness to take an activist role, whether it be in opposition to the dictates of the USGA or even some of the more PGA-centric members of his own organization, is likely rooted in his own understanding of the realities of today’s golf industry. Having gone through a Chapter 11 reorganization at his own facility, which he admits was a painful time for him, he is well aware that the wellbeing of not only the PGA but the golf industry as a whole hinges in large part on growing the game’s appeal to not only new players but existing customers. It will be interesting to see in which directions that pursuit takes him and his 27,000-member constituency over the 20 months or so of his term. —Jim Dunlap February 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - February 2013

The Pellucid Perspective - February 2013
Part-time golf courses: A concept worth trying?
Bankruptcy courts protect course revenues from lenders
Show notes from 35,000 feet
Volunteers may not be free
January golf weather impact: Down...but not unexpected
Golfers not goin’ to Kansas City
Movie time: License required
Concert Golf Partners buys CC at Woodmore in D.C. Area
Bishop’s tenure as PGA President promises deep breaths of fresh air

The Pellucid Perspective - February 2013