Analysis Lost in Translation

By Brian HewittAugust 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
The word spread like wildfire. Golfweek magazines Web site was reporting late Monday that the LPGA was going to require its players to speak better English. And the phone lines, as they say in talk radio, lit up like Christmas trees.
 
On the one hand there was an understanding that the LPGA, struggling to keep sponsors in certain cities, needed to make all of its players more fan friendly and, at the very least, capable of communicating with well-heeled pro-am partners. Its a language fluency that most agree is the price of doing business on the golf course in the womens game.
 
Ji-Yai Shin
Asian players have won 7 of the last 11 LPGA events, including Ji-Yai Shin at the Women's British. (Getty Images)
On the other hand there was a reaction in many quarters that the LPGA was acting in a ham-handed fashion by threatening possible suspensions to players who dont pass an oral English evaluation.
 
There are 121 international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea on the LPGA. Many of them have minimal English language skills.
 
The game here is still golf. And the object is still to shoot the lowest score. But the LPGAs move has already been at least partially lost in translation. Golfweek reported that several South Korean players believed failure to pass the test would result in their losing their cards, not just being suspended.
 
Don Shin, whose Global Sports Management is based in Orlando, Fla., represents South Korean LPGA players Meena Lee, Sarah Lee and four other Asian women. Tuesday he told GolfChannel.com that he was aware of the new policy that was revealed to South Korean players at a meeting last Wednesday.
 
Shin said the LPGAs move was appropriate. But he said none of his players have yet been told what the oral evaluation will entail.
 
Shin made several very good points. He said he isnt worried about any of his players passing the test. And, he added, most of them have been receiving English tutoring, two months out of the year, since as early as 2005.
 
But he pointed out that Korean, like Japanese or Chinese, is very different than English ' much more so than, say, Spanish, Italian or French. And, he said, any Asian women who fail the oral evaluation should be given a proper amount of time to receive more help with the English language.
 
As it stands now, the LPGA wont begin considering suspensions until the end of 2009. Shin suggested the LPGA take 2009 as a test year for the program and put off any possible suspensions for at least another year.
 
I have watched LPGA Pro-Ams and seen the stereotype: Four cigar-chomping, middle-aged American men saying hello to a 22-year-old South Korean woman who bows at the introduction on the first tee. There are smiles but very few words exchanged over the next five and a half hours after which the men scratch their heads and wonder why their foursome paid $10,000 for little or no conversation.
 
Whos to blame is a matter of opinion. But an imposition of oral evaluations carries with it no small whiff of infringement upon civil liberties.
 
One counter-point is that these are Asian women who are making a good living on an American tour.
 
One counter-point to that counter-point is no one is threatening Argentinas 2007 U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, whose English arrives through an interpreter, with the an English evaluation test.
 
Eventually the hope is that this will resolve itself for the best. Maybe thats being naively optimistic.
 
Meanwhile, I cant help thinking about the famous quote from George Bernard Shaw, who referred to England and the United States as two countries separated by a common language.
 
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Related Links:
  • Report: LPGA to mandate English for all players
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.