LPGA to Introduce Compulsory English Rule

The language of golf is marketing and, as far as the LPGA Tour is concerned, it is also English.

The multi-national and multi-ethnic LPGA Tour is implementing a new rule from 2009 requiring all member players to have a reasonable grasp of spoken English, or face suspension.

This also applies to non-native English speakers who have been part of the Tour for two years, who need to pass an oral evaluation test. For new players, the rule is immediate.

With South Koreans by far forming the largest group of non-native English speakers, and also among the best players, the LPGA is quick to point out that the rule is not targeted at any particular ethnic group.

It has to do with the fact that sponsors, media and the fans want to interact with players in English. The Tour’s deputy commissioner Libba Galloway said in an AP article:

“Why now? Athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development. There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can succeed off the golf course as well as on it. We are connecting with fans and sponsors like never before. But we want things to continue to get better, to continue to grow.”

The South Korean players were informed of the rule and, according to the article, the reaction has largely been positive.

Multiple tournament winner Lee Seon-hwa is less reliant on a translator these days and said the Korean players understand the regulation with sponsorship key to the Tour’s success.

2 Responses to “LPGA to Introduce Compulsory English Rule”

  1. Lyall Davidson says:

    It’s not racist at all to believe in communication; there is something odd, however, in the the lingua franca at all international golf tournaments being solely and invariably English.

    There are international contexts – fast-moving team sports, for example, where a single lingua franca between players and officials is essential, but which one usually depends on which country you are in.
    Golf is unusual because international tournaments draw players from all over the world. If an international tournament is in a non-English-speaking country, there is a good case for spectator announcements etc to be in the local language and possibly English, as the lingua franca. But suppose it’s a conversation between an official making a ruling and a player from a non-English-speaking nation. If you insist that all rulings will be given in English, you hand an advantage to the English speakers, which may be convenient for organisers, but it is also unfair. (To imagine how unfair, suppose you are travelling in a foreign country and you are fined by a traffic policeman for a violation you don’t understand, yet you have to pay up. How does it feel?)

    Yet in these days of mobile telecoms, it is quite easy to organise a three-way conversation with an interpreter. Easy enough to establish in advance whether such a facility would be needed and in which languages.
    Wouldn’t cost very much, either.

    Lyall Davidson

  2. Walter Booth says:

    Oh boy these stupid racist guys will be into this like mad. They have no reason to though. English is the most understood language in the world and this golf goes right around the world so the best language to get into everyones head is English. Not because it is the best or any thought of this so called racist factor they rant on about. There is only one race in this world and that is the HUMAN RACE. There is no other. None. this effort is being done to make it easy for the majority of watchers of golf. Go to Canada for instance. What a dam pain when you have to listen to every announcement in both French and English just because a few people on the east coast speak French in a small area. Cheers, Walter.

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