Golfweek magazine reported on its Web site Monday that speaking English will be a requirement starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they cant pass an oral evaluation of English skills.
The tour held a mandatory meeting with South Koreans last Wednesday at the Safeway Classic to inform them of the new policy.
Hopefully, what were talking about is something that will not happen, deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told Golfweek. If it does, we wouldnt just say, Come back next year. What we would do is work with them on where they fell short, provide them the resources they need, the tutoring and when we feel like they need to be evaluated again, we would evaluate.
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea.
Golfweek said that while South Koreans were informed of the rule, LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens has not given them a written explanation. But the message already appears to be lost in translation. The magazine said every South Korean player it interviewed believed she would lose her card'not be suspended ' if she failed the English evaluation.
Angela Park'born in Brazil of South Korean heritage and raised in the United States'said the policy is fair and good for the tour and its international players.
A lot of Korean players think they are being targeted, but its just because there are so many of them, Park said.
Seon-Hwa Lee, the only Asian with multiple victories this year, said she works with an English tutor in the winter. Her ability to answer questions without the help of a translator has improved in her short time on tour.
The economy is bad, and we are losing sponsors, Lee said. Everybody understands.
The policy was endorsed by at least one tournament director, Kate Peters of the LPGA State Farm Classic.
This is an American tour, Peters said. It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.