LONDON (Reuters) - The world’s top women golfers will be required to speak English from 2009 under new rules introduced by the LPGA Tour.
“We’re focusing on the fact that we’re in the sports entertainment business and we have to interact with fans and sponsors,” LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told the USA Today website (www.usatoday.com).
“This is not meant to be punitive in any way. There are very few players who don’t speak English.
“We don’t think suspensions will happen but if they do we’re not going to say, ‘Boom, go home and try again next year’,” she added. “We’ll work with them on identifying areas for improvement.”
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the United States-based LPGA Tour, including 45 from South Korea alone.
Mexican Lorena Ochoa tops the LPGA’s 2008 money list with Taiwan’s Yani Tseng fourth and young South Korean Park Inbee ranked fifth.
The golfweek.com website said the South Korean players were told at a mandatory meeting on August 20 at the Safeway Classic that from 2009 all players who have been on the Tour for two years must pass an oral English test.
Galloway said the “measurement time” would be at the end of 2009 and players who fell short would be provided with resources such as tutoring.
Leading Korean golfer Pak Se-ri supported the stance.
“We agree we should speak some English,” she told Golf Week. “We play so good overall. When you win, you should give your speech in English.
“Mostly what comes out is nerves. Totally different language in front of camera. You’re excited and not thinking in English,” she added.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Clare Fallon