Wednesday, August 27, 2008

English as a necessary skill for golf...

I admit to not knowing all the ins and outs of golf, by virtue of not playing the game myself, but the LPGA's new rule that all players must pass an English proficiency test is bugging me. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but this was my understanding of how golf is played:

Whack the hell out of a small ball with a club.
Avoid smacking the ball into sand, water, trees, tall grass, or spectators.
Try to smack the ball into a tiny hole marked by a flag that's kind of far away.

Oversimplified? Perhaps. But, I'm not seeing where "speak English" is particularly important to the game.

But, of course, it's not actually about the game. It's about the sponsors.

Because, gods forbid that the best player on the green not speak English very well or at all.


Kristen said...

The issue is that the LPGA doesn't have any saleable assets with Sorenstam leaving the tour after this year. There are a number of fantastic women golfers on the tour, but the LPGA can't market them because for the most part they can't speak English. (The best female players right now seem to be coming out of South Korea.)

If the LPGA can't sell these golfers to the golfing public, then no more tour. If the women can't do interviews with TGC or various golfing magazines, then the golfing public can't get to know them.

Personally, I agree with you and think they should have encouraged the players to learn English for the sake of their own careers rather than making a rule about it. Plus, there are such things as translators! We use them in baseball every day! (Of course players who do not speak English do get less coverage than players who do.)

But, to be fair, I don't think the rule was motivated by racism or nationalism.

Roy said...

It can't market them, or it can't market them in the same way that it usually markets golfers? As you point out, there are translators, and there are ways of encouraging and helping people to learn English if you're convinced that it's necessary to the survival of the LGPA.

But, think about it: The only players that it matters if speak English are the players that magazines and media are wanting to interview, yes? They're going to be interested in your best players. So... they're going to potentially kick their best players out of the LPGA? That doesn't seem wise, to me.

Roy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristen said...

I'd say the problem is that they haven't been able to market them.

Realistically, very few people care about the LPGA. If golf is a 2nd class sport, then the LPGA is a 10th class sport. News outlets are not going to make the same effort that they will for Dice-K.

Consider Inbee Park, a fantastic female golfer, the youngest to win the Women's Open, but there has been almost no media coverage of her since the win. But Ochoa gets tons of media coverage. Neither are US citizens and neither of them are white. Ochoa speaks English. Park does not.

mark said...

How about requiring women to meet a certain weight requirement? This would also help players "maximize their earning potential" (as the LPGA put it), play better, and promote the tour by attracting more viewers (look how well Anna Kournikova has done).

mark said...

Let's be consistent. Jackie Chan and Jet Li should be banned from making movies in the US. Also Marlee Matlin. Yao Ming should be suspended from the NBA. Good thing Bruce Lee didn't star in the Kung Fu series.....

Maria said...

I'd be interested in seeing if the PGA is doing the same thing, or if not why the LPGA deems it necessary. A while back (2000?) we had one of the PGA finalists over for dinner and he barely spoke English (he was from Paraguay) - most of our dinner conversation was in Spanish.