Wednesday, August 27, 2008

LPGA Mandates All Members Speak English

This mandate could turn out to be the most controversial story in the history of the LPGA. As far as I could determine, this marks the first time an American professional sports organization is demanding that all of its participants speak fluent English.

As you might imagine, this new law is generating quite a bit of talk on both sides of the issue, and I can totally see why. The Asian players--especially the South Koreans-- feel as if they are being singled out. And why shouldn't they considering some of the things that have been said about them in the past. While the tour is just hoping to make the most of any and all financial opportunities, which of course benefits everyone associated with the LPGA.

However, with Asian players having won 7 of the last 11 LPGA events, it only makes sense for the tour to implement this rule and for the players to adhere to it.

The LPGA needs to capitalize on all possible marketing opportunities, and nothing sells the tour more than the players who win the tournaments. But if the majority of those players can't speak the language of the host country, both the tour and its membership will miss out on potential growth and earnings down the road.

For more on this controversial story, check out this article from The Golf Channel's Brian Hewitt.

Analysis: Lost in Translation - 08/26/2008
By Brian Hewitt

The word spread like wildfire. Golfweek magazine's Web site was reporting late Monday that the LPGA was going to require its players to speak better English. And the phone lines, as they say in talk radio, lit up like Christmas trees.

On the one hand there was an understanding that the LPGA, struggling to keep sponsors in certain cities, needed to make all of its players more fan friendly and, at the very least, capable of communicating with well-heeled pro-am partners. It's a language fluency that most agree is the price of doing business on the golf course in the women's game.

On the other hand there was a reaction in many quarters that the LPGA was acting in a ham-handed fashion by threatening possible suspensions to players who don't pass an oral English evaluation.

There are 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea on the LPGA. Many of them have minimal English language skills.

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