The LPGA will require players to speak English starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they can’t pass an oral evaluation of English skills. The rule is effective immediately for new players.
Deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told The Associated Press, “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.”
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, about 20% of the total. The single largest group of foreigners are 45 players from South Korea.
We don’t know what the oral evaluation of English skills consists of, but I would bet it’s fair enough. The point is to get people speaking English so they can communicate with everyone. The rule simply assures that players will get started learning our language. If one in five LPGA golfers doesn’t speak english, the opportunities to grow the league are definitely hampered. Additionally, there is a cost associated with so many not speaking English just like there is in mainstream society.
Bottom line: It’s all good for the LPGA, for sponsors, and for fans. It’s a lot of work for the players, but if they are going to be in America, and role models for younger age groups, shouldn’t they have some proficiency of our language within 2 years? It may take a lot longer than that to really absorb it, but it’s a good start.