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9.05.2008

lpga backs down on english requirement

The LPGA Tour appears to have gotten the message. Feeling the pressure from lawmakers, sponsors and community groups since making this ridiculous announcement last month, the LPGA Tour backed off plans requiring all players to learn English, under threat of suspension: LPGA backs down on English requirement.

The policy planned to suspend players who cannot speak English well enough to be understood at pro-ams, in interviews or in making acceptance speeches at tournaments in the United States. It just so happens that the LPGA has a significant number of golfers from South Korea.

LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens said she would have a revised plan by the end of the year that would not include suspensions, although fining non-English speakers remains an option. Here is Bivens' statement rescinding penalties:

Statement credited to LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens regardingvthe LPGA's policy on effective communication in English

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Sept. 5, 2008 -- The LPGA has received valuable feedback from a variety of constituents regarding the recently announced penalties attached to our effective communications policy. We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions.

After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every Tour player. In that spirit, we will continue communicating with our diverse Tour players to develop a better alternative. The LPGA will announce a revised approach, absent playing penalties, by the end of 2008.

During that time we will continue to provide support under the three-year-old Kolon-LPGA Cross Cultural Program. This popular program provides all LPGA members with the best cross-cultural training in the form of tutors, translators, Rosetta Stone, the official language-learning system of the LPGA, as well as assistance from LPGA staff and consultants.
There's been quite a bit of outcry since the policy was announced last month. It has been widely criticized as discriminatory, particularly against Asian players. The Tour originally disclosed the plan two weeks ago during a mandatory meeting at the Safeway Classic in Portland. While LPGA membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries, the only people at this meeting were South Korean golfers. What's up with that?

Make no mistake—Koreans are passionate about golf. You bet your ass there was going to be an outcry. And it looks like the LPGA heard it, loud and clear. It now remains to be seen what their ultimate plans for this ill-conceived policy will be. Stay tuned.