Golf in EnglishThe U.S. LPGA Tour recently announced that it would require all golfers to speak English, starting next year. Those who have been playing on the LPGA Tour for more than two years are to take oral tests.
If they can’t pass the evaluation by the end of next year, they will be suspended for two years. This measure doesn’t exist on the U.S. PGA Tour and is discrimination against golfers who come from non-English speaking countries.
South Korean golfers stand to suffer most from this measure. On the LPGA Tour, of the 121 international golfers from 26 countries, 45 are Korean. Among those, only about 10, such as Park Seri, are able to give interviews in English without the help of an interpreter.
It is understandable why the LPGA Tour made the decision. Some golfers don’t speak English in interviews with the media even when they win, and they don’t communicate with VIPs during Pro-Ams. It is said that sponsors have been pointing out this problem.
Libba Galloway, deputy commissioner of the LPGA Tour, said the decision was aimed at allaying complaints from sponsors. She also said golfers should have a responsibility to develop the tour and that they must speak English for golf fans, the media and sponsors.
Now, Korean golfers must change. For the past three years, the LPGA Tour offered English tutors free of charge to international golfers who want to learn English. However, few Koreans on the tour used this program. Commissioner Carolyn Bivens is said to have pushed the Korean golfers, asking them why they give up learning English so quickly when they practice putting for as long as two hours a day.
It is clear what Korean golfers must do from now on. It is alright if they haven’t studied English as well as Shin Ji-yai, the golfer who gave interviews in English after winning the Women’s British Open early this month.
But they must no longer speak Korean to their caddies. In order to brush up their skills, they can have conversations for one hour a day with the private tutors provided by the tour. When learning English, they can use their capacity for perseverance and concentration, which they used to good effect in winning tournaments.
Sixteen months are left until the end of next year’s evaluation. We support our young Korean women golfers.