Social media gets lost in translation?

Last week Rickie Fowler won arguably the most exciting professional golf event of the year at The Players Championship.

He did so by making eight birdies in his final 10 holes of play. This included a four-hole playoff. Fowler finished with six straight birdies in regulation.

Three times in less than two hours, Fowler birdied the famous 17th hole, an island green par 3 (twice during the playoff). That feat probably ruined Mother’s Day for Pete Dye, the renowned golf course architect.

It was a sweet win for Fowler, who was recently voted as “co-most overrated player on the PGA Tour” by his peers in a poll released last week from SI’s Fowler received 24 percent of the votes, along with Ian Poulter. Bubba Watson finished third with 12 percent, and Hunter Mahan was fourth with 8 percent.

The poll was conducted anonymously with players from the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour and the Champions Tour. It’s easy to say things anonymously.

The term “overrated” is defined as “having a higher opinion of someone or something than is deserved.” The fact that the poll was anonymously conducted raises plenty of questions on its validity. The poll provided a constant back drop during The Players, particularly by Golf Channel on Fowler and Poulter.

A large portion of the stories written after Fowler’s win contained a headline with ‘overrated’ in it. These were sarcastic references to the poll validating Fowler’s win and the instant status he now has earned with his Players Championship.

In 2014, Fowler finished in the top five of all four majors. His peers saying that he was overrated was probably because prior to Sunday he had only one PGA Tour victory. Saying Bubba Watson is overrated is ridiculous given his two Masters wins and a WGC title. In Hunter Mahan’s case, some people would say that he should have more wins given his talent.

And how about Poulter as co-overrated? Poulter is a lot of things. He is colorful, brash, outspoken, cocky, a fierce competitor, the modern day American Ryder Cup nemesis and a man who has 1.8 million followers on Twitter. For a guy who actually started working in golf as a club pro, Poulter has achieved two PGA Tour wins and 12 European Tour wins. Ian Poulter is anything but overrated.

As I watched Fowler’s remarkable performance on Sunday afternoon, I sent several Tweets containing #overrated, which was my way of taking a slap at the poll. That night after Fowler’s win I sent the following tweet.

“Rickie Fowler- the legend is made. Only one overrated player left…..” The intent was to put into perspective what the win would mean to Rickie and to take one last shot at the “overrated” poll. It was never intended to slam Ian Poulter.

While my wife and I were enjoying a Mother’s Day dinner, Poulter responded to my Tweet. He obviously took offense and thought I was taking a shot at him.

“Oh Ted Ted Ted…. I thought you learnt your lesson the last time. Obviously not.”

Poulter followed that up with another Tweet containing a screen saved text I sent him last Thanksgiving setting up a phone call to apologize for our first social media encounter in October. He underscored it with, “I guess @tedbishop38pga is still confused. I should have replied to this message the way I wanted to.”

Literally moments after Pouter’s second Tweet, I received a text from Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press. It said, “I know you can’t be impeached twice, but the sarcasm was missing. This is gaining traction.”

To which I responded, “The whole ‘overrated’ poll was a farce as Fowler proved today. I never said Poulter was overrated, his peers did.”

After my text exchange with Ferguson, it was obvious that some were misinterpreting my Tweet. I then sent another Tweet trying to clarify the issue, “I guess my sarcasm on the ‘overrated’ poll went right over some people’s head like @IanJamesPoulter. Fowler proved it was a farce. #relax”.

I spoke with Ferguson on Tuesday. He never wrote a story. He said he texted me Sunday night because he thought the sarcasm might have been missing and wanted to hear from me.

On the other hand, the Golf Channel decided not to run my second Tweet in its Web site story, which attempted to clarify my position. None of its television commentators referenced it or ever reached out to me at any time during the days that followed when they put me on the smorgasbord of criticism. No other media outlet contacted me besides Ferguson, and many wrote about the Twitter altercation between Poulter and me.

Due to the popularity of social media, today’s society is more about written communication than it is verbal. Unfortunately for me, my social media communication lacks facial expressions and voice inflections. Good-natured sarcasm is a staple in my arsenal, and those who know me will validate that. Ian Poulter and I do have that in common.

The end of this story is simple. Ian Poulter sure as hell is not overrated. And thanks to Doug Ferguson for making the effort to clarify his interpretation of the situation before reporting about what he thought he saw.

Ted Bishop is director of golf and general manager of The Legends Golf Club in Franklin and a past PGA of America president.