Let's put Bishop's tenure in context

You can all but hear the chuckles from across the Atlantic, if not outright laughter. Could there have been a more pathetic aftermath to another U.S. Ryder Cup defeat than what has transpired over the past 29 days?

From Phil Mickelson's pointed comments in the post-match news conference to the anonymous reports emanating from the U.S. team room of a dysfunctional Tom Watson captaincy to a sloppily arranged "task force" and finally PGA president Ted Bishop's ouster on Friday due to a social media meltdown ... well, you just could not make any of this stuff up.

Some of the reaction was understandable, some out of frustration, some hasty, some, perhaps, over the top, but none of it really gets the United States any closer to holding the trophy.

If anything, the headlines of the past month have served to squelch a couple of long-held myths: that the Ryder Cup is a friendly, goodwill competition; and that the U.S. doesn't care about it.

The fact that a man would be removed from his position -- albeit due to his own doing -- over the fallout of his social media comments speaks to the sometimes unseemly nature of the Ryder Cup, as well as America's keen interest in winning it.

But what has occurred since the Americans fell 16½ -11½ on Sept. 28 isn't exactly helping matters.

Mickelson felt it important to let his feelings be known in the most awkward of settings, hoping to effect change. And then several who witnessed what happened behind the scenes came forward anonymously to paint a picture of a flawed Watson captaincy, essentially shedding light on what Mickelson did and his hopes for a better way.

All of that should have been enough to get the powers that be at the PGA of America pointed in a new direction, with plenty of time for reflection.

Instead, Bishop, perhaps in an effort to put what he felt would be a final stamp on his legacy, put together a Ryder Cup task force to study all aspects of the U.S. pursuit. Why now? Why so fast? As England's Lee Westwood tweeted, "What a massive pat on the back and confidence booster it is for Europe that team USA needs to create a Ryder Cup task force!!!"

Yep, that's pretty much the case.

While there is nothing wrong with the idea of studying a way forward, did it need to be so official, so fast, so final? Paul Azinger, the last captain to win for the United States, elected not to be part of the task force for now because he felt its formation came about too quickly.

Then Bishop got offended by comments in Englishman Ian Poulter's recently released book about former European captain Nick Faldo and Watson.

Bishop on Thursday took to Twitter and Facebook to call out Poulter, likening the golfer to a screaming "lil girl" -- an "insensitive gender-based" comment that the PGA of America felt was serious enough to remove him from his position with just a month left in his tenure.

Why Bishop felt the need to engage Poulter in such a setting remains puzzling. Poulter's comments about Faldo are, frankly, none of Bishop's business. And he clearly has been sensitive to the criticism of Watson, who was Bishop's choice to lead the U.S. team for a second time.

The problem is, Poulter didn't write anything that hadn't already been vetted in various forms. He wrote that Watson's decision making "completely baffled" him and that it "gave us a real boost. I found it utterly bizarre."

So Bishop basically took issue with what several in the American team room felt -- and yet he never called them out. He only chose to do so with Poulter?

Obviously Bishop's choice of Watson became a sensitive topic, even though there was little if any negativity about the decision when it was made in 2012. Bishop, instead, was hailed as an "outside the box" thinker for going away from the PGA of America's usual Ryder Cup captain protocol and taking Watson for a second time.

Bishop clearly had his detractors, and perhaps his bedside manner ultimately did him in. Taking the stage with Watson on national TV and dragging out the three at-large selections was painful and not exactly endearing. He rubbed some in the game the wrong way, to be sure.

But Bishop was hailed as a supporter of the recreational game when he went against the USGA and R&A's move to ban the anchored putting stroke; he supported grow-the-game projects and women's golf initiatives. In fact, the PGA of America will partner with the LPGA for the first time next year to stage a women's major championship.

Bishop was clearly wrong for taking on Poulter as he did and using a sexist term. But removal from office with a month to go along with erasing his name from the association's records, while not affording him the status given past presidents?

That seems more than harsh, almost cruel, as if the organization is now determined to make Bishop pay for other misdeeds. Make no mistake, Bishop put himself in this position, and his social media statements were incredibly crass, not to mention inappropriate for the leader of a golf association whose mission is to grow the game.

Perhaps an apology -- which Bishop said he was not allowed to make publicly -- and a stern rebuke could have put an end to the controversy, as Bishop's reign comes to an end in a few weeks regardless.

Now what?

There's been plenty of blather and bluster over the past several weeks, with a bunch of grown men -- Watson included -- not exactly coming off at their best. And who is better for it?

As for the U.S. taking the Ryder Cup back in 2016? None of this has appeared to enhance the effort, as the Europeans are left to try to contain their snickering.