PGA of America’s Ted Bishop calls out R&A over anchoring, exclusion of women

Michael Cohen

PGA of America president Ted Bishop won’t kowtow to R&A chief Peter Dawson on anchoring, Dawson’s male-only policies, or any other issue.

Just about a week after Dawson pontificated that he would not “bully” Muirfield (the all-old-boys club that's the site of this year’s British Open) into accepting women members, Bishop let the fusty old sexist, who has women-proofed his own association, know that he would stand firm against similar tactics from across the pond. Bishop told Golf Digest’s Tim Rosaforte in an interview and via email that he found Dawson’s unwillingness to accept women members, and thereby grow the game, “very curious and perplexing.

"This is a much different approach than we have taken in America,” said Bishop, who, much to Dawson’s chagrin, has been quite vocal in his opposition to the R&A and USGA’s proposal to ban the anchored putting stroke.

Bishop was responding to Dawson, who reportedly said it was not up to the PGA of America to boost interest in golf, according to Rosaforte.

The public bickering between association heads -- which Rosaforte noted was extremely unusual -- apparently began when Bishop diverged from the governing bodies’ anti-anchoring campaign. Bishop said he was not on a “personal mission” against the ban, which the overlords proposed in November and will likely set in stone this spring.

Bishop contended that he voiced opposition to the edict after a non-binding poll of his 27,000 members made it clear there was little to no support for the mandate. Then came what Rosaforte termed a “testy” confab between Bishop and Dawson at the Masters, during which Bishop said he represented the “best interests of the amateur golfer.”

Dawson, in full bully mode, reportedly pointed at Bishop, claimed, “That’s not your role,” and charged that the PGA’s stance “set golf back” and caused “irreparable damage.”

The war of words continued at an Augusta reception, after which Bishop told Rosaforte that Dawson seemed to believe the PGA should simply march in lock step with the R&A and keep any contradictory views under wraps.

“Then why have a comment period at all?” Bishop said to Rosaforte. “Dawson stated on Nov. 28 that he doubted if any new evidence would surface during the comment period that would result in the ban on anchoring being dropped. That hardly set the stage for an 'open' comment period.”

Sounds about right for the rigid Dawson, who, speaking of setting things back, would appear to be an expert in such matters. His oh so enlightened attitude on women harkens back to the good old days, when a woman knew her place, and that place was certainly not on any golf course under the purview of the venerable Royal & Ancient (emphasis on “ancient”).

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