News & ToursOctober 29, 2014

Why Ted Bishop's gaffe doesn't offend me the way some people think it should

It's been almost a week since PGA of America president Ted Bishop posted the tweet and Facebook rant that would end up sinking his career, and I'm still grappling with the emotions that I, as a woman in the golf industry, am supposed to have about it. Sure, I was put off by what he wrote -- but not, at first, because of the sexist nature of the comment. I was stunned to see the president of one of golf's largest organizations resort to a juvenile taunt of a PGA Tour player on social media, completely unprovoked. It wasn't until somebody else pointed out the sexism in Bishop's posts that it struck me just what a giant PR blunder this moment of posturing would turn into.

Related: The story behind Ted Bishop's dismissal from the PGA

Of course the president of the PGA can't use "lil girl" in public. Of course his organization would have to distance itself from him. And of course I was disappointed that he had perpetuated the image of golf as a tone deaf old-boys' sport. But I was much more irritated that he thought it was OK to bully a player on Twitter than I was with the term he used. Because I've heard that term used a million times, always in sports settings.

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As I've watched the Bishop saga play out over the last six days, I've wavered frequently between appreciation for the unilateral condemnation of his actions and brewing resentment over the demand for more vocal outrage from prominent female golfers. This was a clown act by a man whose ego had been bruised during the Ryder Cup, and one that clearly was unintentionally sexist.

He used a term that he'd become desensitized to -- just like I have -- and didn't think about what it meant. It was wrong and stupid. But as a woman who plays golf -- and watches golf, and reads about golf, and works in golf -- there are so many other things that I'm more offended by.

I'm offended that I can't play in most of my own club's tournaments because the women's events take place on Thursdays while the men's events are played on the weekends, as if women don't work just as hard as men do during the week. I'm outraged that the women's locker rooms at most clubs are a fraction of the size of the men's locker rooms and rarely come close to having the same amenities. I resent that my girlfriends and I are never allowed to play through a group of slower-playing men, or tee off before a group of guys, simply because of our gender. I'm perturbed when I turn on a golf TV morning show and have to watch women I respect present golf news in high heels and cocktail dresses while their male counterparts are wearing slacks and golf shirts. And I hate that 95 percent of golf course design is patently unfair to female players. Basic equality at a grass-roots level -- that's well above eradicating sexist slurs on my wish list.

We should be upset that Ted Bishop, one of golf's elected leaders, posted those words on social. But as far as real issues for women in golf go, this wouldn't rank anywhere near the top. Let's not pat ourselves on the back too vigorously for a job well done in unseating him. We've still got a long way to go before we've eliminated sexism in American golf.

Follow @StinaSternberg