Tour retracts proposed penalties
for failing to speak passable English
The LPGA today continued its famous "one step forward, two steps back" approach to earning public respect and recognition.
Commissioner Carolyn Bivens announced that the oldest and largest women's professional sports organization in the world is backing down from its proposed policy of suspending players who can't pass an English proficiency test.
The need for English as the "official" language of the tour is real, but threatening to suspend players was wrong.
The solution is simple -- if you can't speak English, you can't play in pro-am events with corporate sponsors, or participate in any promotional activities where English is required.
Corporate amateurs want to interact with talented and personable players, not necessarily the best players. On the men's side, Hale Irwin was a three-time U.S. Open champ, but for years he was considered an awful pro-am partner. And he speaks English!
The LPGA needs to find and cultivate the women on the tour who can be outstanding LPGA ambassadors and PAY THEM EXTRA to play in pro-ams, mingle at events, do the promotional videos, and reap the corporate benefits. There are plenty of Koreans, and Italians, and Brazilians, and Taiwanese, and Mexicans -- heck, even a few Canadians and Australians -- who speak darn good English already!
Not that I'm biased, but our friend Sarah-Jane Kenyon is a limited-status member of the LPGA right now -- but maybe not for long after a 7-under-par 64 today on the Duramed Futures Tour -- who would be a great "ambassador." She's an excellent player, is attractive, is fun and personable while always being polite and respectful, and consistently makes a positive impression on pro-am partners.
The tour should take women like Sarah and develop them, and PAY THEM, to be the corporate face of the organization.
If there's extra money to be made, instead of tournament purses to lose, the English will improve quickly across the whole tour.