ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The LPGA Tour boasts players from all over the world, and it wants all of them to be able to speak English.
The LPGA will require players to speak English starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they can't pass an oral evaluation of English skills. The rule is effective immediately for new players.
"Why now? Athletes now have more responsibilities and we want to help their professional development," deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told The Associated Press. "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."
The tour held a mandatory meeting with South Koreans last Wednesday at the Safeway Classic to inform them of the new policy, which was first reported by Golfweek magazine. There is no such rule on the PGA Tour.
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea.