Concerned about its appeal to sponsors, the U.S. women's professional golf tour, which in recent years has been dominated by players born outside the United States, has warned its members that they must become conversant in English by 2009 or face suspension.
"We live in a sports-entertainment environment," said Libba Galloway, the deputy commissioner of the tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association. "For an athlete to be successful today in the sports entertainment world we live in, they need to be great performers on and off the course, and being able to communicate effectively with sponsors and fans is a big part of this.
"Being a U.S.-based tour, and with the majority of our fan base, pro-am contestants, sponsors and participants being English speaking, we think it is important for our players to effectively communicate in English."
The LPGA and the other professional golf tours, unlike professional team sports, are dependent on their relationships with corporate sponsors for their financial survival.