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On & Off the Course

August 30, 2008

On and Off the Course: LPGA’s new policy might help, but other solutions needed



The organization insists the purpose of its language policy is to help players maximize their earning power and promote the tour at the same time.

From a business point of view, I understand what the LPGA is trying to do, and why it has a right to do it. The LPGA Tour is a product. That product is a combination of a structure, which would be the schedule of tour events, and personnel, which would be the players themselves. Of those, 121 are foreign players from 26 different countries. There are 45 players from South Korea.

The tour travels to many different cities, and reaches many different fans. People buy tickets to come out to see highly talented women play golf. Volunteers in vast quantities are necessary to make a golf tour event go smoothly. These people will come away from their day at the event with a better impression if one or more of the tour members shakes their hand, signs an autograph or talks to the crowd.

The LPGA Tour prides itself in being fan accessible, and it needs to be. There are only so many sponsorship dollars available, and the PGA Tour has the majority of them. In order for the LPGA to compete it needs to display an event where players are relevant, which in this case means ones who the television audience cares to see. If a player can’t speak English well enough to answer questions, it’s very hard to put together an interesting montage to keep those television sets turned on.

The LPGA is in a tough spot. It wants to attract the best players, but if those players happen to be non-English speaking, it puts a damper on the enthusiasm of the fans. The LPGA has to enhance its product and market it to enough sponsors to keep the tour alive.

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