Q&A: Ted Bishop, 38th PGA president
At the PGA of America’s 96th annual meeting Nov. 10 in Baltimore, Ted Bishop was elected the organization’s 38th president. Since 1991, Bishop, 58, has been general manager and director of golf at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Ind., a 45-hole complex that is home to the Indiana PGA Section and Indiana Golf Association. Golf runs in the Bishop family. A daughter, Ashely, played at Kansas; her sister, Ambry, played at Indiana and is the women’s coach at St. John’s.
Your education has an agronomic background to it. What kind of career path did you see for yourself?
Just before I graduated from Purdue in 1976, I interviewed for a pro/superintendent’s job (at Phil Harris Golf Course) in southern Indiana; no one in the Indiana PGA wanted the job. It was a superintendent’s job that would supplement your income with the customary things a golf professional does. I actually turned it down (initially) because I wanted to be a golf course superintendent.
What did you learn there?
Basically, everything I know. I was there for 17 years. When I took it, I thought, maybe I’ll stay here a few years and move on to something else. Honestly, if I hadn’t had the opportunity to build my own facility (Legends GC) and own part of it, I’d probably still be there.
What do you see as golf’s most pressing issue?
It continues to be player development. Obviously the PGA of America has embarked on an important initiative in the last year with Golf 2.0. We’ve made some great strides in the first year, but it’s a work in progress. The growth of the sport depends on our ability as professionals to create new players, to get existing players to play more rounds of golf. If we can do that, that will have a positive impact of revenues at our facilities. . . . I take great pride that when (former president) Allen Wronowski gave me the green light to get more involved, we had about 1,450 facilities offering Get Golf Ready programs and we finish this calendar year at around 4,000.
Through successful marketing, manufacturers have done a great job convincing America’s golfers that the way to a better game is to buy new equipment. Does that come at a sacrifice to one of the core elements of PGA of America members: lessons and instruction?
That’s a great question, but most of the people I see, if they’re going to buy expensive golf clubs, they take the time and expense of going through a fitting process. If you’re going to spend $399 for a new driver, you want to be sure you have the driver that’s right for you. So they have to get that fitting, and in most cases they’re going to get it from a PGA of America professional.