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Criticism Mounts Over LPGA’s New English Rule

Posted August. 30, 2008 03:26,   


The U.S. Ladies Professional Golf Association is under fire for instituting a new rule that requires players to speak English.

Following criticism from U.S. Professional Golfers’ Association members and the New York Times, a Korean-American congresswoman also expressed her opposition to the LPGA’s rule.

“Fluent English helps your golf career. But I can’t understand why they have to suspend players for lack of English skills,” said Korean male golfer K.J. Choi. “Had the measure been introduced when I was a rookie, I would`ve had to go home.”

U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina was also upset with the new rule. “You don`t have to speak English to play golf,” Cabrera said. “I remember what (Roberto) de Vicenzo once said to me. If you shoot under 70, everybody will understand you. If you don`t, they won`t want to talk to you anyway."

The New York Times pointed out in its editorial “A Bad Idea From the LPGA” that imposing a discriminatory rule on players who cannot speak English well is not only offensive, but self-destructive.

California Assembly member Mary Hayashi said the English requirement is unconstitutional and suggested exploring other legislative options, including congressional hearings.

“With the success of Tiger Woods, so many children of color have been inspired to take on the sport of golf, believing they had an equal opportunity to play," she said.

“The LPGA is potentially reversing hard-won progress, especially for women, by showing that talent, passion and hard work are not enough."

Hayashi, who was elected in 2006, is the first Korean American to serve in a state legislature in the continental United States.