Tuesday

Golf is Global, Right? Or Am I Missing Something?

LPGA golfers are a worldly bunch... that's for sure.

Membership includes 121 international players, from 26 countries. And these global golf girls travel the entire world for their tournaments, with twelve non-US tournaments currently in their season long schedule.

So it was surprising to hear of a recent edict requirement presented by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens on the subject of LPGA language skills. In essence, the new rule is that that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills... or face a membership suspension.

A common language in organizations and institutions, presumably brings with it increased efficiency and fewer errors, and is not, in itself, objectionable to most. In fact, quite a number of the international LPGA players who were presented with this mandate recently, agreed with the premise... in principal.

What is disturbing about the situation is the way it's come down... the way it appears to have been presented by the LPGA, as a one-size-fits-all rule. The PR team does not seem to have been able to present the positive aspects of basic linguistic uniformity. They don't seem to have succeeded in reassuring some of their best players that their cards would not be pulled out from under them, and they've been unable to avoid the appearance of American arrogance, and sponsor pandering. There seems, in the way this matter has come to the attention of the press, to be little regard for golf's international growth and huge international fan base.

One of my favorite golf writers, Jason Sobel, presents his position on this issue in a podcast here, and as usual I agree with him.

What do you think?