The only way that I can describe the past few days is WOW.
Sometime around 4:45 p.m. on Saturday I became the 38th President of the PGA of America. This was a very unlikely set of circumstances for someone who grew up as a kid throwing baseballs and bouncing basketballs in my hometown of Logansport.
My first experience with golf was watching the CBS Golf Classic on Saturdays during the winters back in the late 1960s. The show was a taped re-broadcast of two man best ball matches staged at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Even though my father did not play golf, I was intrigued with the sport and certainly by what the players were wearing. It was a cool game played by a bunch of flashy guys wearing plaid slacks and bright colored shirts.
My dad was a barber and my mom a school teacher. My family had modest means, but I never went without anything I needed as a kid. Still, it was inconceivable that I would own a set of golf clubs at an early age because I had a father who was not a golfer and there wasn’t a bunch of extra money floating around to afford me access even at the local public course.
I mowed yards in my neighborhood and saved up enough money to go to a local hardware store and buy a single golf club — it was a George Fazio model 7-iron. As I recall, this was when I was 13 years old and I even had enough money left over to buy a cheap sleeve of golf balls.
The next thing I had to do was find a golf course. I lived three blocks from Tower Park and a couple of buddies of mine, whose fathers played golf, would meet at the park with our 7-irons and a some golf balls in our pockets. We created a course which was comprised of lamp posts. We would play from lamp post to lamp post, sometimes putting dings on them upon finishing the hole. We never deemed par on the hole, it was all based around how many shots it took to hit the lamp post.
I am the same kid who created a game of baseball with two dice and who would go through an entire 162-game season laying on the floor of my living room. I would do the play-by-play. I would score the games and keep the stats for the entire season. Even though I was a die-hard Yankees fan, I would pick a team like the Washington Senators to play the season out. This way I could overachieve results with a crappy team. I have always been the classic overachiever.
When I was 17 years old I got a summer job working at the Rolling Hills Par 3 Golf Course. We had 18 holes, a lighted driving range and a miniature golf course. It was Caddy Shack before the world was introduced to the famous movie. I worked the entire summer of 1970 and never hit a golf ball. My time off was consumed playing basketball and American Legion baseball.
I started playing golf during the summer of 1971. I would take a handful of clubs with a putter and play the par 3 course. At Rolling Hills you needed nothing more than a 6-iron through the wedge. Lots of guys didn’t even carry a bag. We just kept the balls and tees in our pockets. No dress code was in effect, so I played shirtless on many occasions. My dad soon started playing and golf became an activity that we enjoyed together every Sunday afternoon while I was home from college.
Upon graduation from Purdue in 1976 to be a golf course superintendent, I took a job in Linton as the pro/superintendent. In my infinite wisdom, I was offered the job and initially turned it down because I had to make my money doing the things a golf pro does. I reconsidered and wound up working there for 17 years before coming to Franklin.
While In Linton I met Phil Harris, the great entertainer who was born in that coal mining town in southwestern Indiana. Phil and I worked together to create the largest celebrity golf tournament in the United States. We played 600 players over two days. There were four 150 player shotgun starts (25 teams with six players) during the weekend. Thanks to Phil we had some of the biggest names in entertainment, golf and the sporting world. It was pretty amazing when you consider the town had one motel and was over two hours from the nearest major airport.
I got my PGA membership in August 1985. It took me five attempts to pass my Playing Ability Test (PAT). I missed it by five shots; two shots; one shot twice and eventually hit the target score of 157 right on the number. I was the proverbial “choking freakin’ dog” as I needed to pass the PAT before I could start the path to PGA membership.
My entire career has been spent in the Indiana PGA. I was elected to the Indiana PGA Board of Directors in 1988. From there I guess you could say the rest is history some 24 years later. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever envisioned myself as the 38th President of the PGA of America.
Last Saturday night my good friend Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, pulled off a big surprise. He showed up at the PGA’s Farewell Reception in Baltimore with John Harbaugh, head coach, and Jim Caldwell, former Colts coach and now Ravens’ quarterback coach.
Harbaugh presented me with a game used No. 12 Ravens jersey with Bishop sewn on the back. It was symbolic of my election as President in 2012 in the City of Baltimore. For those that don’t know, the No. 12 is worn by Jacoby Jones, a wide receiver and kick returner for the Ravens. On Sunday, Jones returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown in Baltimore’s 55-20 victory over Oakland. That has to be a good omen for the next two years of this Presidency!
This ascension with the PGA might be one of the most unlikely stories in the history of golf. Here’s a kid who didn’t grow up playing golf; who was destined to be a golf course superintendent and not a golf pro; who somehow made it to the top of his profession. There have been plenty of pot holes along the road. Many days have been filled with more challenges and heartbreak than joy.
I guess it just goes to show that anything really is possible. Here’s a big thanks to all who made it possible and that list is far too long to mention. Today, I truly am the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Ted Bishop is a golf columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The only way that I can describe the past few days is WOW.
Sports briefs: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014
DePaul's Penny honored by Big East CHICAGO – DePaul senior forward Jasmine Penny was named to the Big East Conference Women’s Basketball Weekly Honor Roll it was announced on Monday by the league office. The senior, who was named the conference’s Pl
- Colts ink veteran receiver Branch for added depth The Indianapolis Colts made some news off the field Monday with the announcement that former New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch has been signed to the active roster. Branch, who played collegiately at Louisville, currently lives in Carme
- The next challenge FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- A defense that allowed 44 points in a playoff game might boost the confidence of its next opponent. Such generosity rarely leads to wins. But the New England Patriots aren't counting on the Indianapolis Colts being that vuln
- Strange season yields good results I have to say that this year has been quite unique during deer season. The tremendous swings in weather have led to a totally different season than I think most of my fellow deer hunters and I were expecting. From warm mild days to thunderstorms and
Caston handles South Newton
Facing a South Newton squad that had given up 52 points per game coming into Friday, coach Chris Ulerick made the decision to go back to the basics offensively, placing his senior quarterback under center and committing to the smash-mouth running style of the basic wing-T. Coupled with a few personnel changes, the move worked as the Comets pulled away from the Rebels for a 34-20 victory.
Winamac rocks North Judson
Class A No. 3-ranked Winamac stayed undefeated at 7-0 with a 30-13 win over North Judson (2-5) on Friday night.
Kokomo's D turns back Logan
Kokomo’s football team rode an explosive offensive attack to North Central Conference championships in 2007-11. The Wildkats showed a solid attack in posting a runner-up finish last year.
The Wildkats lack the same type of punch this year — but they have a defense willing to shoulder a heavier workload.
Cass hammers Taylor
The Lewis Cass football team looks like it’s starting to hit its stride at exactly the right time.
The Kings moved above .500 for the first time since Week 1 in Friday’s 48-0 shutout at Taylor, improving to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in Mid-Indiana Conference play.
Cass has won three straight games for the first time this season, setting up a juicy homecoming game when Maconaquah visits next week. The Braves have won four straight and hold a 5-2 overall record and 4-1 MIC mark after defeating Peru 28-19 Friday.
Pioneer rolls past North White
Pioneer’s football team played host to Midwest Conference foe North White Friday night at “The Pit.” Both teams entered the game with 4-2 records and most in attendance were expecting a fairly decent game — but the Vikings defense had no answer for Pioneer’s high-powered offense as the Panthers rolled to a 64-36 win over the Vikings.
- Reds face offseason of questions after late slide CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Reds kept their lineup virtually intact in the offseason, convinced it was ready for a push deep into the playoffs. They didn't add anything at midseason, thinking they were still fine. They paid for those decisions in another
- More Sports Headlines
- Sports briefs: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014