Take that, South Korea!

Your play is no good here anymore

Your play is no good here anymore

It’s hard to know what to say anymore. The LPGA, and professional women’s golf in general, has become so inundated with negatives of late–the Michelle Wie scorecard kerfuffle, the lost sponsorships, the ever sinking television ratings and attendance figures, the demise of Golf for Women–that I was pretty sure that as bad as things were looking for the game, things just couldn’t get any worse. Well, Annika’s retiring at season’s end. But you know, after that.

Well, leave it to LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens (pictured left) to prove me wrong:

At a mandatory South Korean player meeting Aug. 20 at the Safeway Classic, the tour informed its largest international contingent that beginning in 2009, all players who have been on tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills. Failure would result in a suspended membership.

Wait, this is from The Onion, right?

Hilary Lunke, president of the Player Executive Committee, said much of this initiative stems from the importance of being able to entertain pro-am partners. Players already are fined if the LPGA receives complaints from their pro-am partners. Now the tour is taking it one step further.

So we’re not going to at least try and deny that this has something to do with corporate money?

“The bottom line is, we don’t have a job if we don’t entertain,” Lunke said. “In my mind, that’s as big a part of the job as shooting under par.”

Um, Hilary? I thought playing great golf was what’s “entertaining.” You know, hitting good shots and shooting low scores? Something you rarely do anymore, by the way, and something the South Koreans are proving far, far better at?

Se Ri Pak was one of many Koreans who supported the tour’s position but favored a fine. The LPGA’s Galloway, however, said an impression must be made that communicating effectively in English is fundamental to the tour’s business.

Of course, the next time Michelle Wie uses the word ‘like’ a dozen times in one sentence (not exaggerating; it’s been documented), there will be a special exemption. Like, right?

“The LPGA could come out and say they only want 10 Koreans, but they’re not,” [Angela] Park said. “A lot of Korean players think they are being targeted, but it’s just because there are so many of them.”

Well they are being targeted.  No one can understand their victory speeches.  Perhaps if they just didn’t win so darn much!?  The next step should be to build a fence around the course. That’ll keep ’em out!

Kate Peters, executive director of the LPGA State Farm Classic, supported the news. “This is an American tour. It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.”

But isn’t the LPGA actively trying to secure new sponsorships in Asia?  Ooops.

The tour will rely on its communication staff to help identify players who need to be evaluated. International players who already demonstrate English proficiency will not be approached.

George Orwell couldn’t have written this any better.

LPGA members are encouraged to use the support systems already in place such as the Kolon-LPGA Cross-Cultural Professional Development Program and the Rosetta Stone online language program.

Rosetta Stone!  Of course!  They could be a sponsor, Carolyn!

In short, I sincerely hope that this is the straw the breaks the LPGA Tour’s proverbial back.  Women’s golf certainly has a place, but not in a part of the world where no one cares, on rinky dink courses and in terrible time slots (when it’s even being televised, that is!)  As I’ve said before, I think that the LPGA has no business existing on U.S. soil, when its predominant fan and sponsorship base exists in Southeast Asia.  A world tour for women’s professional golf, based in Seoul and Singapore, with a May-August swing that includes North America.  That’s the ticket.

Thoughts?

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