Walcoff: LPGA needs a mulligan for latest decision 

Bad timing for an equally bad idea. Just days after the Beijing Olympics showcased unparalleled athletic mastery and cultural diversity, the LPGA unveils a boneheaded idea requiring all its golfers to speak English or face suspension. Apparently concerned about losing sponsors and fan appeal, the U.S.-based women’s pro golf tour will implement an English proficiency rule next year to all players with at least two years’ experience: pass an oral evaluation or go home and get a tutor.

There are 121 international players on the LPGA Tour, including 45 from South Korea, many of whom are among the best players in the world who do not speak our native tongue. In the immortal words of Ice-T, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Aside from tennis and gymnastics, most women’s sports struggle to find a place in America’s busy sports landscape.

But teaching foreigners how to say, “Thank you, I hit a great approach shot on 17 and dropped a tough putt on 18” isn’t going to attract more attention to the LPGA any more than the PGA would suffer if Tiger Woods couldn’t say “I live to win the Masters.”

By the way, not speaking English hardly hurt the popularity of former Los Angeles Dodgers ace Fernando Valenzuela or Seattle Mariners hitting machine Ichiro Suzuki.

How’s this for creative play-calling? Tired of seeing empty seats outnumber fans at Stanford football games, school officials are introducing the “Gridiron Guarantee.” New season-ticket-holders who buy the family plan can get a full refund if they are not satisfied with the entertainment value of the product on the field.

An improved Stanford team, which opens its season hosting Oregon State tonight, has yet to sell out a single game since it spent $100 million to refurbish Stanford Stadium. With ticket prices as low as $8.50 each, what’s to lose?

But the deal on the Farm only goes so far. Unhappy fans must turn in their tickets before the USC game on Nov. 15.

Instant replay on so-called “boundary calls” has finally arrived for Major League Baseball.

Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose team will inaugurate the new video review system at Wrigley Field tonight, is upset he won’t be able to challenge an umpire’s call. Only the crew chief can ask for a replay of whether a home run was fair or foul, or whether there was fan interference on a ball along a wall.

Piniella wants to be able to throw a red hankie onto the field, like NFL coaches. Sweet Lou, a notorious nemesis of the men in blue says, “Imagine being able to throw something onto the field and not be ejected.” Dream on.

Rich Walcoff is the sports director at KGO Radio (810 AM) and can be heard weekdays between 5-9 a.m. on the “KGO Morning News.” He can also be reached at richwalcoff@abc-sf.com.

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