LPGA Requires Players to Speak English

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(Suppose she’s listening to total immersion English?)

In a controversial decision, the LPGA has decided to require players to speak English. What? Oh the horror! My only question is, what took so long?

The golf course has always been more about striking deals than the ball. Until recently, it was barley considered a sport. But Tiger changed all that. Now, in addition to fat white guys talking politics and rotary club, you’ve got a young, hip contingent hitting the links – even girls! Even people who don’t speak English! 

While youth and diversity bring all kinds of new opportunities to ‘monetize’ the game of golf, they also pose challenges to the old guard. The new kids on the course would do well to understand the economics behind their ability to earn a living from chasing a little ball around the lawn. There are sponsorships, clothing, and big tourism dollars. And as far as the LPGA is concerned, all these are bankrolled in English. Hence the new requirement.

…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.

Conversation is part of the game of golf – any game. When the LPGA rolls in to town, it’s a big deal. Local media is all over it and corporations pay decent money to play with the ladies in Pro-Am tournaments. Is it too much to ask that the players engage reporters and sponsors in English?

The Golf Channel’s Brian Hewitt has seen it firsthand:

Four cigar-chomping, middle-aged American men saying hello to a 22-year-old South Korean woman who bows at the introduction on the first tee. There are smiles but very few words exchanged over the next five and a half hours after which the men scratch their heads and wonder why their foursome paid $10,000 for little or no conversation.

What do you think? Reasonable requirement or infringement of civil liberties?