The LPGA to require players to speak English in 2009 — is new rule discriminatory or just desperate?

mulligan, 26 August 2008, Comments Off on The LPGA to require players to speak English in 2009 — is new rule discriminatory or just desperate?
Categories: Uncategorized

Golfweek reports that the LPGA has just passed a new rule to require all players to speak English. Hilary Lunke, president of the Player Executive Committee, explained the rule as a way to ensure the pro-am events at each tournament continue to draw interest from the public. The LPGA also explains the “English proficiency” rule as a way to help increase the LGPA’s marketability.

So is this rule discriminatory against the Asian players? Hmm…let’s see. Out of the 24 LPGA tournaments this year, 7 were won by Asian players mostly, if not entirely, from Korea. Mexican Lorena Ochoa won 6 tournaments herself. It’s not clear how hard the LPGA’s “English proficiency” test will be, but it’s quite possible that every one of these champions — and probably many other foreign players — could pass the test today. There’s a huge monetary incentive for foreign players to speak English, so the LPGA’s new rule seems like it is just shooting itself in the foot by drawing attention to its business problems.

One thing that is clear about the “English proficiency” rule: the LPGA is completely desperate to save its failing business and, unfortunately, it perceives a business problem with the ascendance of foreign born players dominating the LPGA. By contrast, the PGA probably could care less what language the players speak. I mean could you imagine the PGA telling Argentinian sensation Andres Romero, Camillo Villegas, or KJ Choi that they have to learn to speak better English. (Or would the USTA require Spaniard sensation Rafael Nadal to speak English!! I don’t think so.)

Instead of wasting its time on an “English proficiency” rule, the LPGA should be devoting its efforts on hiring a better marketing firm and cultivating the players. The real business problem for the LPGA is not language, it’s finding someone who can be a marquee player like Tiger Woods. Short of Paula “Ms. Pink” Creamer or Natalie Gulbis or Michelle Wie having spectacular years, there’s probably nothing the LPGA can do to save itself. It is still remarkable to think, however, that only a month after Annika Sorenstam said her final farewell, the LPGA has unraveled this far.


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