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8.26.2008

lpga tour requiring players to learn english

You've got to be kidding me. According to Golfweek, the LPGA Tour will require its member golfers to learn and speak English and will suspend their membership if they don't comply: LPGA Tour will suspend memberships if players don't learn English.

The new requirement was apparently communicated to the tour's growing South Korean membership in a mandatory meeting last week at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Oregon. So we do know they've specifically devised and directed this new rule at Korean golfers.

Players were told by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills or face a membership suspension. Evaluators will assess players on communication skills including conversation, everyday survival phrases and "golfspeak." Players must be able to conduct interviews and give acceptance speeches without the help of a translator.

Will the exam be required of all players? Or just the Korean ones? Look, I agree that the LPGA should be encouraging its members to learn English. But they should be letting their golf game do the talking, and lay off the threats and penalties, and the English-only nonsense. This is an international game, with international players.

However, most of the South Korean players quoted in the story seemed understanding of the new rule. The LPGA's membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries; 45 are South Koreans. That's because Koreans kick ass at golf. Didn't you know?

Maybe Se Ri Pak, one of the first South Korean players on the scene, has it right: "We play so good overall. When you win, you should give your speech in English." Yes, in order to effectively communicate to everyone just how badly you kicked everyone's ass on the course.