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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

English no issue on Turkey Mountain

Thursday, September 4, 2008

There was no subtlety to this one.

No, sir. The four-word statement said it all and got right to the point.

"LPGA sets language requirement."

First reported by Golfweek magazine a little over two weeks ago, the Ladies Professional Golf Association made it official last week.

Starting next year, the LPGA will require all players who have been on the tour for two years to speak English, or face suspension. The rule goes into place immediately for new players.

Players must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills.

So what's the big deal, you say? Can't they already speak English?

Well, the LPGA is made up of players from all over the world, and to be honest, some just can not speak English. There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea, and English is not their native tongue.

The LPGA says it is not targeting players from South Korea specifically.

This may or may not be the case, as only LPGA officials know the answer for sure.

But what is sure, is that the LPGA, like so many other professional sports organizations, are under tremendous pressure to cater to their sponsors, who dish out countless millions of dollars on a regular basis.

This much is confirmed by LPGA Deputy Commissioner Libba Galloway.

"Athletes now have more responsibilities, and we want to help their professional development," she said. "There are more fans, more media and more sponsors. We want to help our athletes as best we can, succeed off the golf course as well as on it."

In other words, if your fan base and the majority of your sponsors speak English, and the players on your tour can't communicate with them, you've got major problems.

Fans lose interest in the sport and sponsors take their money elsewhere.

Agree with it or not, that seems to be the bottom line. Money does talk and it seems like it prefers English to any other language.

Just imagine that your dream has always been to play in an LPGA Pro-Am. You save up your money, you circle your calendar and set the wheels in motion.

You spot an event that you want to play in, arrange your vacation for that week and make plans for the seven- or eight-hour drive to the event.

You and your playing partners get there, pay your $40,000 to play in the event and are excited when the evening of the pairing party finally arrives.

But here is where the dream could turn sour with the luck of the draw. What happens if your group is paired with an LPGA player who does not speak English and has no way to interact with your group? After all that, that's part of the reason people play in Pro-Ams -- the interaction with the professionals.

So, after a year or so of planning, along with considerable expense, your dream weekend turns out to be less than expected. A lot less than expected.

That's what the LPGA is trying to avoid with this new requirement. It's called keeping your fan base and sponsors happy.

But I do know one place where that has never been an issue -- The Legends Tour.

Seems like fans and sponsors of The Legends Tour are always left smiling after one of its events wraps up.

Interaction between Legends players and their fans and sponsors is, for lack of a better word, well, Legendary.

That's what The Legends Tour is built on. Interaction between some of the greatest names the sport has ever known and an adoring fan base.

For an up-close-and-personal demonstration of this, look no further than The Horseshoe Bend Invitational, scheduled for Sept. 28-29 at The Course on Turkey Mountain.

There, fans can rub elbows, play, and yes, chat with, a who's-who of Hall of Famers, all in the beautiful setting of The Course at Turkey Mountain.

To me, that sounds like a dream weekend, one where we can throw all language requirements right out the window.

The Horseshoe Bend Invitational should be a load of fun, and that's one thing we can all understand.

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