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August 26, 2008

LPGA mandates English

The LPGA has given its members a directive that they have to learn English. Shouldn't be much of a problem for the U.S. players, but it might mean some extra work for many of the young Asian, particularly Korean, players on the tour. It's a new strategy for me.  If you can't beat 'em, make 'em speak like you.
In all honesty, it's a mandate that is designed to help the tour's marketability in the U.S., especially as TV contracts and tournament sponsorships are expiring in 2009. Sponsors and people who pay to play in pre-tournament pro-ams want to be able to have at least a casual conversation with the player they're paired with.
I'm sure the young Asian players will try to comply, and they probably want to learn English anyway. But it will be difficult to enforce. Will the LPGA Tour be giving pop quizzes to its players? The tour says it will require players to pass oral English exams once they've been on tour for two years. But do you kick a player off a tour because they can't speak English fluently enough. Should a great golfer who is a slow learner be punished. It's a golf tour, not a university. And for fringe players struggling to cover traveling expenses, are they expected to hire a traveling tutor? It will be interesting to see if the tour follows through with threatened suspensions if any players fail to learn English. It could conceivably set the tour up for a legal battle.


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