Bivens Clarifies 'English-only' Program


On Tuesday, LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens released a statement regarding her organization's "initiative" to tour players about requirements for speaking English. The announcement was met by most players with acceptance, while others - and some of the media - criticized the directive. Below, Bivens clarifies the move. Here's a full transcript of her statement:

"A great deal has been written this past week about the LPGA's initiative to help members attain minimal English language skills. For those of you who want more details and background, please go to http://www.lpga.com/content_1.aspx?pid=17137&mid=4 where you will find an extensive overview. Please feel free to respond and offer comments.

Let's start with a key point of clarity: we are not suggesting, nor will we implement, an 'English-only' policy. The LPGA does not, nor will we ever, require English fluency, or even proficiency, from our international players.

country. For those events, we need our members to attain a level of communication in English so they can:

A. Deliver an enjoyable experience in the pro-am events at tournaments, which are the lifeblood of the LPGA business model;

B. Conduct their post-round interviews in English for the media; and

C. Deliver a short acceptance speech after winning an event.

None of this is new. The LPGA has had a program for more than three years whereby we dedicate substantial resources for the transition and education of our international members. This program includes an on-line learning program, tutors and translators with the expressed goal being a functional ability to communicate in English within two years after an international member has joined the LPGA.

The aspect which is new and received the vast majority of coverage last week is the penalty, which would be assessed after two years if a player didn't achieve the minimal ability to communicate in English. We do not view this as punitive but rather as underscoring the importance of a core value on which the LPGA was founded: engaging and entertaining our customers and fans. Without this most basic ability to entertain our customers, we will not maintain the current levels of events much less grow. Nor will our international members have the skills necessary to maximize their individual earnings potential by being able to communicate with prospective sponsors.

I'd like to offer a brief word about our events outside the United States. As part of our Board-approved strategic plan, we are producing cultural briefings for each tournament beginning this fall. Among items shared with members will be key phrases for communicating in the native language of the country in which the event is held. Additionally, we have a number of members already using our on-line language services to learn other languages.

I believe as do the majority of our domestic and international members, the program we have implemented will benefit the LPGA and every Tour member individually.

Please feel free to send us your thoughts and comments."

Best regards,

Carolyn F. Bivens

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