Of all the events The Legends Golf Club has hosted, it would be difficult to duplicate the star power of Tuesday evening.
“An Intimate Evening with Golf Legends” commemorated Ted Bishop’s tenure as the 38th president of the PGA of America while also raising money for charity through an auction of sports memorabilia.
The Mulligan Open taking place today at the Legends also is part of the festivities.
Among the dignitaries making the trip to Franklin for Tuesday evening’s dinner were Tom Watson, winner of eight major championships and the 2014 United States Ryder Cup captain; current PGA Tour player Steve Stricker; and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
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Emceeing the event was Alex Miceli, senior writer for “Golfweek” magazine.
All are friends of Bishop, whose term as president ended in October — one month shy of fulfilling his two-year obligation — after he posted what were considered insensitive posts on social media.
What transpired Tuesday proved a sendoff more befitting Bishop’s contributions to the game of golf.
“I’m here to show my respect for Ted and what he’s done for the game of golf. What he’s done as PGA president to help the game of golf grow. Right now we’re in a position where golf is deflating. There’s a lack of growth in the game that’s really concerning me,” Watson said.
“Ted was out front in a lot of issues. His main focus was the growth of the game. That was exactly the right issue he should have been on as president of the PGA.”
It’s the wish of Stricker that people remember Bishop’s efforts in a positive way.
“It’s kind of unfortunate the way it all ended. It was sad to see a friend go through those kind of things he was going through at the time. It’s hard for me to say what happens on a daily basis inside their organization, but Ted did a lot of great things for the PGA and for women’s golf,” said Stricker, who earlier Tuesday was named an assistant captain for the United States team in the Presidents Cup in October.
“I think those are the things he should be remembered for and not the way that it ended. This is my way of showing support for a friend. That’s the underlying thing for me. I’ve gotten to know Ted over the years, and he’s been a friend to all of us. For us to be here to show our support for him and what he did for the PGA is important.”
Among them Bishop’s ability to forge a strong working relationship with Finchem, which allowed both the PGA of America and PGA Tour to benefit while helping grow the game of golf.
“(Tuesday) is one of those great things where you’re doing multiple things in the same event. Recognizing Ted for the contributions he’s made and at the same time raising funds to help people. That’s what golf’s all about, really,” Finchem said.
“When Ted and I started talking when he became president, we clicked. For a relationship to be great you’ve got to click, and we see a lot of things the same way. Ted’s the kind of guy that doesn’t mess around and wants to get things done, which appealed to me.”
Humbled by the Horizon Planning Group putting together an event in his honor, Bishop, looking around the room at the approximately 180 dinner guests, was clearly moved by the gesture.
“For Tom Watson, Steve Stricker and Tim Finchem to be here is, I mean that’s a special night under any circumstances. It means a lot to me. Of all the things that I’ve organized and put together in golf over the years, the thing that was really satisfying about this is I was able to come up with a date that worked for all three of these guys, which is not easy with their schedules,” Bishop said.
“I had a different relationship with all three of these guys, but I had a great relationship.”
Which helped make for one heck of a great sendoff.
THE WATSON FILE
Name: Tom Watson
Born: Kansas City, Missouri
Family: Wife, Hilary; daughters, Meg and Paige; sons, Michael, Kyle and Ross
High school: Pembroke-County (1967)
College: Stanford University (1971)
Professional wins: 71
PGA Tour wins: 39
Majors: 8 – The British Open (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983). The Masters (1977, 1981), U.S. Open (1982)
THE STRICKER FILE
Name: Steve Stricker
Born: Edgerton, Wisconsin
Family: Wife, Nicki; two children
College: University of Illinois (1990)
Professional wins: 22
PGA Tour wins: 12
THE FINCHEM FILE
Name: Tim Finchem
Born: Ottawa, Ill.
Family: Wife, Holly; four children
High school: Princess Anne, Virginia Beach, Virginia (1965)
College: University of Richmond (1969)