rights and Asian-American groups said yesterday an LPGA decision to
require golfers to speak English is insulting and possibly illegal.
Several national news outlets reported that the reaction in the pro
golf community was more mixed, with some questioning the language
policy and others saying foreign-born players would benefit from
But Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties
Union, said the LPGA could open itself up to a discrimination lawsuit
if it bars golfers from participating because of their national origin.
The language policy is expected to most affect the LPGA’s 45 South
Korean members. There are 121 international players from 26 countries
on the tour. “If they are targeting people based on language when
language is not essential to the job at hand, which is playing golf,
then it is discrimination,” Lieberman said.
Many South Korean players, including Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak,
acknowledge there is a problem on the tour and support the language
policy, according to reports. The LPGA has told players who have been
members for two years that they could face suspension if they do not
become competent in English by next year.
Richard Konda, executive director of the San Jose, Calif.-based Asian
Law Alliance, said the policy is “troubling” given golf’s checkered
history on race relations. He also said the LPGA could be guilty of
discrimination on the basis of national origin.
The Washington, D.C.-based Asian-American Justice Center called on the
LPGA to retract the policy, which it called “tantamount to national
origin discrimination.” Konda added: “They should be very careful in
terms of enacting a thing like this because it seems to me that they
are going backwards instead of forwards.”