Golf has never been a sport closely associated with inclusiveness.
Even into the 1990s, American clubs, such as the Shoal Creek Country Club that hosts numerous PGA, USGA and NCAA events, refused to admit black golfers as members.
Hell, there’s even that old joke that golf stands for “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden.”
Speaking of which, the professional golf world was worked into an orgiastic frenzy last week as the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) announced it will require players to speak English.
Those who fail to reach a certain level of proficiency will face suspensions.
The intention is to lure sponsors to the tour by providing audiences — specifically the massive English speaking audiences of North America — with golfers that are more easily liked because of the common language.
“The bottom line is, we don’t have a job if we don’t entertain,” said Hilary Lunke, president of the player executive committee, in an interview with Golfweek.
“In my mind, that’s as big a part of the job as shooting under par,” added Lunke, who obviously has no faith in the beauty of the game.
If we follow that logic down its idiotic path, then players don’t have to be talented at all, as long as they are entertaining.
So let’s get Tina Fey out on the links — she’s hilarious!
If the tour wants wider appeal, why stop at language?
They could attract massive audiences by having the players — well, maybe just a few — play topless. (Hooters could become a sponsor.)
They could also conduct personality tests to qualify players for the tour.
Perhaps players could go from hole-to-hole riding unicycles while juggling chainsaws.
Obviously forgetting that the LPGA holds major tournaments in Mexico, France, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Canada and South America, and that South Koreans alone makes up more than a third of the tour’s players (45 out of 121), some see the rule as an American right.
“This is an American tour,” said Kate Peters, tournament director of the LPGA State Farm Classic, in an interview with the Associated Press.
“It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience.”
Supporters of the language rule — who are nonetheless complete dolts — do make a descent point by pointing out that the owners of the tour have the right to make such rules because they own the organization.
Yes, if the LPGA was a hardware store, they’d have every right to sell standard wrenches exclusively instead of metric ones, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
What they are not realizing is that this intolerant attempt to improve their product could hurt it.
For instance, what if there’s a player that starts dominating the tour just before the instigation of the rule, but just can’t get the hang of English — which, by the way, has three times as many words than any other language.
Perhaps she took a golf ball to the head or was dropped as a baby – whatever. The point is, if she is suspended from the league, the ranking system will become de-legitimized. Who cares if so-and-so is at the top of the rankings, when everyone knows the true champ is off taking English lessons?
And what if a non-English league, filled with real talent, splintered off from the LPGA, how could that be good for the tour?
That would also help to de-legitimize the LPGA as the world’s premier league.
But for some, it just boils down to impatience.
Some viewers have expressed annoyance for the extended process of interviewing players through translators (at least on TV and radio, it makes no difference in print).
OK, so you have time to watch players spend three-and-a-half hours to play 18-holes, but if an interview takes an extra 30 seconds, that’s the final straw?
What are you doing watching golf in the first place? If you want something fast paced, watch hockey!
Taking a page from the Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand-economics theory, the sponsorship ills of the league could self-correct over time.
If sponsors are more inclined to sign English-speaking players to contracts, then that should be enough motivation for players to learn English.