By Ann Liguori
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YES, the PGA of America made the right move in firing Ted Bishop.

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His tweet and Facebook post compared golfer Ian Poulter to a “little girl. He wrote, “Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”

It reeks of sexism, gender bias and attitudes toward women that have permeated the golf world for way too long.

Bishop was reacting to Poulter’s book on the Ryder Cup, sticking up for Nick Faldo after Poulter criticized his Ryder Cup captaincy in his book.

For those of you who feel that firing Bishop was too harsh, one of the PGA of America’s primary objectives is to grow the game of golf.  With 27,000 members, the PGA of America knows it can’t tolerate a leader within its ranks who made an “insensitive gender-based statement.”

Many may feel that Bishop’s tweet was harmless. And that’s the problem. These kind of insensitive comments and attitudes toward women happen far too often in sports. These sort of put-down comments and attitudes toward girls and women need to stop.

For females who play golf, you know what I’m talking about.

How often do you hear men call other men “Alice” when they putt way short of the hole? How often do you women feel that you really aren’t welcomed playing at a club which is dominated by male members? How often do you feel that if you are playing with men and your foursome is slow, that the male players behind you are blaming you, the woman, for holding them up when in fact there may be one or several guys in your foursome who need to speed up their pace of play? In these situations, how often are you, the woman, trying to speed up the pace of play knowing that you, the woman, will be the object of criticism and accused of playing slow?

These are just some of the issues that women golfers have to deal with. How many women won’t even take up the sport because they are intimidated by male players, perhaps even those in their own families, who are less than kind and encouraging when it comes to taking up the sport and playing? If I had a nickel for every husband whom I’ve heard through the years say, “I don’t want my wife to play…”

Enough already!

Kudos to the PGA of America for making a swift decision in dismissing Bishop. As much as the PGA of America may recognize Bishop’s contributions to the game in the past, and as difficult as firing Bishop must have been for PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua — who worked closely with Bishop — a few words or statements from Bishop reveal a lot about how he (and others) may think. The fact that Bishop has two daughters makes his comments even worse. He should know better.

In a recent Golf Digest article, Bishop admitted that, “To be honest with you, there was no hesitation when I typed ‘Lil Girl.’ I grew up in a generation where my dad hit ground balls to me in the backyard. If I pulled my head up, he told me I was fielding like a girl…”

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Yes, this kind of sexist mentality has been ingrained in some men for generations.

Bishop went on to say in the piece, “But in that restroom at The Greenbrier, the light went on, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t even think about that. How stupid could I be?’ I felt like throwing up.”

Bishop added in the Golf Digest piece,”I was for inclusion of women in the R&A and for their equality in the game. I’m not a sexist.”

“The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf,” Bevacqua said in a statement released last Friday. “…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.”

In the summer, the PGA of America announced that it is teaming up with the LPGA in organizing the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a major golf tournament which will be held June 11-14 at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. next year.

“The PGA of America’s quick and decisive action sent a strong message,” the LPGA said in a statement, “reinforcing a consistent belief that with so many positive gains being made among golf’s leading organizations, there is simply no room, nor willingness, to take a step backwards.”

“We understand and respect the PGA of America’s decision regarding Ted Bishop,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. “During Ted’s presidency, he accomplished many positive things and the PGA of America and the PGA TOUR have worked in a much more collaborative and positive way as a result of his leadership.

“While his remarks on social media were unfortunate and inappropriate, Ted’s apology was heartfelt and sincere. We will always appreciate Ted’s commitment to the game of golf.”

Yes, it was a hard lesson for the 60-year-old Bishop, but one that had to be learned by him and many others.

Perhaps the process of educating those steeped in that generations-old sexist mentality has begun.

Thank you, PGA of America.

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