Where in the world is the LPGA? Look to the East. Far East

There was a time not long ago when Kyeong Bae’s English tutor was an animated character who lived under the sea. Or a mouse who wears pants.

“Cartoons,” she said, “like Spongie Bob.”

To the connoisseur, that would be SpongeBob SquarePants. Bae also found a language mentor in Disney movies, while she sat in hotel rooms on her idle hours during her early days as an LPGA regular.

That was five years ago, when Bae, now 25, was a young South Korean on the Tour, which in the last few years has gone from reactionary to proactive in response to the dramatic shift in player demographics.

A faction of the old LPGA feared the influx of Korean players at the turn of the century, prompting the infamous quote from 16-time winner Jan Stephenson in 2003 that “Asians are killing the Tour.”

How times have changed. These days, language instructors hired in May now travel with the Tour, offering one-on-one instruction for all players, including North Americans who might be interested in, ironically, learning Japanese and Korean given the global direction of the LPGA’s brave new world.

Indeed, that might be the future LPGA, which now has a whopping 45 South Korean players and tour stops in Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Japan.

For now, however, around 15 Tour regulars meet once a week with language instructors from the Indianapolis-based Language Training Center. The goal is rather simple: Without English skills, players can’t communicate with sponsors, media, fans — even their own caddies. That’s a hazard waiting to happen.

“I think they see that their clubs do the talking when they’re playing,” said LTC president Martin George, taking a break from a session with Bae at the St. Charles Country Club restaurant Tuesday. “But they want to be able to talk to fans. They want to be able to talk to the media. They want to talk to sponsors. So sometimes if we’re learning a new language we don’t feel comfortable or confident. I think a lot of them have a lot of good language skills inside. We have to have them get more confident and more excited about being outgoing.”

Take I.K. Kim, a 22-year-old who first arrived in North America from Korea six years ago. Kim knows how to converse casually in English, but it appears perfectionism isn’t confined to the links.

“I learn things, like I say ‘you know’ too much,” Kim said. “Because I do a lot of interviews and it helps me a lot. For me, it’s easy to talk to someone that I know. But on the camera… you’ve got to practice it.”

How important are language skills? According to Bae, almost as important as hitting instructions on the practice range.

So important, she said, that using interpreters (provided by the LPGA) is just spinning wheels. “It’s not helping myself,” Bae reasoned. “I wanted to speak more specific English, more difficult parts. I need to study.

“To hit the ball is really important,” she added. “But I have to communicate better with the caddy. I want to be able to just say something. (Now) I have to translate the Korean to English (in her head).”

Bottom line: Professional golf is a business, and a shrinking business in a recession-ravaged economy. Further, the LPGA relies heavily on pro-am revenue, such as Wednesday’s $10,000-per-foursome event at St. Charles on the eve of this week’s CN Women’s Canadian Open.

So communication is paramount. As one Tour official noted, “Football players don’t have to charm sponsors.”

In fact, it’s getting to the point these days where LPGA’s manager of international development, Korean-born Sean Pyun, had to interpret for certain players up to 15 times two years ago. Now there’s no need, but for rare occasions.

“Certainly, the LPGA is quite different from when I started two years ago,” Pyun said. “When they (Asian players) first got here, they were shy. They couldn’t say anything. Now you see them and they’re joking around with their pro-am partners, giving them lessons. Is their English perfect? No it’s not, but progress has been made.

“A lot more people understand that the nature of women’s golf has changed over time. Whether we like it or not we’re going to go to many different countries in the future. We’ll be more global. I think everybody recognizes that and understands they have to go with the flow. This is where the game’s going to be.”

For example, Pyun said one American Tour player has already expressed interest in learning Japanese or Korean.

“The word it getting out (about the language training) to the players,” Pyun said. “Now they’re asking about it. There’s a lot of incentives from an individual standpoint to relate to a different culture to speak another language. Maybe get a Japanese sponsor interested.”

My, how times can change. In fairness, Jan Stephensen might never have envisioned a day where Asian-born players not only wouldn’t require interpreters for casual conversation, but that North Americans players might actually consider learning Korean. Or that a tournament played in Winnipeg, as LPGA commissioner Mike Whan noted on Tuesday, would be broadcast “and somebody in Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Japan is going to watch it on TV.”

That’s a global shift that isn’t going anywhere but East, even as the Tour remains rooted in the U.S. Clearly, pressure is bound to shift on North Americans to do exactly what Stephensen once demanded of Asian players.

Still, Bae insists that “this is the American LPGA Tour, not the KLPGA (Korean Tour). When I go Roma, follow Roma rules.”

A Korean sitting in Canada summoning an ancient Italian adage in a discussion about Asian golfers coming to America.

Sounds about right.


I appreciate you, Anya and Lauren for leading the training. It was very beneficial and I got to immediately use some of the material in my class.

Language Training Workshop Teacher

“We really like Ruth, she is very friendly. The boys like it too much too. We are excited for next class. “

Family in Alabama

Thank you for organizing these workshops for teachers, we learn so much from each other and grow to be better instructors.

Language Training Instructor

We meet virtually now. He even gave me a cooking lesson….he tried his best to do it in Japanese but we ended up doing most of it in English ????. While I may have learned less words, I certainly got to learn how to make tempura!!

Patrick (Happy Student in Tokyo)

I Wanted To Take The Time To Thank You For Your Amazing Services, Both Tom And Hayley Were Tremendous Help Onsite And Even Prepping For It. Looking Forward To Doing Business With You Guys In The Future.

D. Henriquez

Gabi was afraid to tackle speaking, until we just starting talking. She has now put out a yoga video with her speaking English. She will teach this class twice a week.

Maggie (Teacher in Atlanta, GA)

The class was awesome! We Love It. It was an introductory one. We are talking about ourselves to help Cleide understand our expectations. She explained to us a lot of stuff about living in the USA.

Cultural Training Student in Nebraska

I really LOVE my Portuguese classes and Juliana is TERRIFIC… I never had a teacher as great as Juliana, she is amazing and it is teaching me not only to talk in Portuguese but also about the Brazilian culture that is helping me a lot to understand the way they communicate…

Student in Mexico

I have had wonderful interpreters from LTC in the past, who have done a great job providing precise and accurate interpretation. Ms. Li, however, goes far above and beyond what is expected. I’m so very grateful for her exceptional service to both this family and to ZCS.

Director of Student Services

I Hope All Is Well. I Wanted To Follow Up Regarding The Translating Last Weekend. The Gentleman Helping Us Was Fantastic. He Was The Epitome Of Customer Service And Was So Knowledgeable. He Is The Biggest Asset You Have At Your Company.


I thoroughly enjoy working with him. He has all the proper material and the patience. our classes are very instructive and he doesn’t waste time.  Alvaro has been really good at being able to construct the pieces and then put them in place so that it all comes together and becomes usable. 

Spanish student

Hi Wendy, I spoke with Stefano today and he sang praises for you, their English teachers and the CC trainer.

Relocation Counselor

I have to say that Karen has been an amazing teacher. She is very kind and always is searching the way to explain me everything. Always works in her class in advance. Long story short she is great.

Student from Mexico learning English

Thank You So Much, I Really Enjoy My Classes With Joyce I Love Her She Is Very Nice Teacher.

J. Nolaya

Kathleen, you have been an amazing and reliable addition to this student’s team for the past five school years. I want to express my gratitude to you as well as gratitude from the parents and student. We all appreciate your dedication to his access success!

Student’s School to Our Teacher

I Enjoyed Studying With LTC. I Am Grateful For The Great Work With Ana And Her Professionalism To Customize Themes And Her Support In My Daily Life. I Feel More Comfortable With My Language.

D. Triviño

The Classes Have Been Great. My Knowledge Has Increased Tenfold, Thanks To My Classes And Personalized Curriculum. The One-On-One Nature Of The Classes Ensures That Learning Is Catered To You.

K. Singh

I would like to commend Catherine T. for her professionalism. The sessions were always on time and well structured.

French Student

This Year Went Very Well. The Interpreters Were There On Time Every Day And Very Helpful To Catherine. I Did Not Have To Think Twice About Their Service. Thank You.

C. Carol

Kallie has been absolutely great and an excellent match for the classes. Always looking the way to interact and find new ideas to approach the class has been awesome. Not easy with children, and ours is quite challenging some times, but they manage to get an understanding.

Language Training Parent

Floriana was an absolute delight, and I could not have asked for a better teacher. She was outstanding, well-prepared, adapting course materials to my needs and interests, responsive, caring, dedicated to making course content fit with my context, and most of all a friendly and smiling face every week for someone new in town.

Student from Denmark learning Italian

Kazuko Is A Wonderful Teacher And A Super Sweet Person. Thank You For Your Services And Timely Responses In Everything. I Plan To Recommend Ltc To Any And Everyone I Know Interested In Language Learning. Thank You!

J. Brogan

Several months of training with Judith passed very quickly. It was interesting, the atmosphere was great, I will miss our lessons!

Project Management Employee

When Covid hit we were cautious allowing anyone but the patient in the office and this is a wonderful helping hand in the matter.

Interpreting Location Manager

Thank you so much for your interpretation service – it has been a blessing to work with you and has been so helpful in a meaningful way!

Current ASL Client

Juliana is even more than an amazing Portuguese teacher but also a cultural expert and a very lovely person. I will really miss her a lot…

Portuguese Student

Ben and Andrea did a superb job, and were very prompt and courteous. I would highly recommend them for similar jobs in the future. Thank you, Sadie and Paige, for working with us as we make our show more inclusive.

ASL Client

I can say only that Ruth is an amazing teacher. I am absolutely satisfied with our classes. Thank you so much for your attention.

Language Training Student

Overall, I Thought The Course Was Fantastic. I Feel Like I Learned A Lot And Improved Significantly. Astrid Is A Great Professor. She Took The Class Seriously And Made It Enjoyable. She Did A Great Job Of Recognizing Everyone’s Weaknesses And Helping Us Improve On Them. She Focused On Improving Our Grammar While Also Keeping The Class Conversational. The Lessons Were Well Prepared And Focused On Areas We Needed To Learn, Not Just By-The-Book. It Felt Like The Class Was Tailored To The Student’s Abilities. I Am More Than Satisfied.

K. Corrigan

Thank you both very much for all you do. This translation project will go incredibly far in informing many of our Veterans and their families, on the important facts and information surrounding our current pandemic.

EEO Specialist (Equal Employment Opportunity)

“Ewa was crucial in my transition from the US to Germany. She not only took the time to ensure I was learning the correct dialect and colloquialisms of the area to the best of her ability but also was able to answer general questions I had about life in Europe.”

Student in Hamburg

The instructor [Jeff] taught me not only English but also American culture, history, and food culture. He also gave me advice on getting a driver’s license, buying a car and furniture. Thanks to him, I started jogging and became healthier. He has helped me to make a full start in my new life. Thank you for introducing me to a very wonderful instructor.

Japanese student learning English

Thank you so much to all of you for this workshop, I absolutely loved all the information you shared and will definitely continue to address cultural differences in class.

French Instructor

I wanted to say thank you for matching me with such a good teacher. I really feel much more confident after just a few lessons and this makes such a difference in my day to day happiness and feeling in Japan – the power to communicate is really important to me.

Japanese student

I Really Enjoyed My Time With Christine, She Is Amazing, As I Told You She Helped Me A Lot Improving My Conversation Skills. The Classes Were Really Dynamics\ And I Never Felt Like I Was In A Strict Class. I Want To Say Thank You Again And I Hope In The Future To Take The Training Again. I Will Recommend Ltc With My Venezuelan And Latin Friends.

F. Inciarte

The Classes With Katelyn Are Amazing. I Am Very Happy To Have Her As My Professor. She Is An Amazing Teacher And An Excellent Person. I Am Learning A Lot From Her. She Is Very Patient, Responsible, Punctual, Very Clear, And With Great Experience Teaching. She Is Helping Me A Lot To Improve My English.


The ongoing lessons have helped break up the routine of quarantine and more importantly, a source of learning and personal improvement during these extraordinary times.

Jasmin (Student in Mexico City)

I Appreciate Your Qualified Language Training Program Very Much. You Made It Possible To Improve My Knowledge In The English Language In A Lot Of Ways: A Significant Increase Of Vocabulary, Repetition And Consolidation Of Grammar And Practice The English Language By Using It In Conversations During Every Lesson. I Am Very Thankful For All They´ve Done And I´ll Always Recommend Your Institution In The Future.

C. Muth

Hi LTC Team. I want to thank you all for all the things you guys do for me. You are so professional and responsiveness to me. The interpreter Mrs Duong Nga is very nice and good at her job. Once again thank you all.

Immigration client

Thank You For All Of Everyone’s Help With Fumiya. We Have All Seen Him Grow With The Ability To Communicate On The Daily Tasks. I Will Definitely Keep You On My Contacts In Future Situations Thank You Again Have A Great Day.


Thanks Wendy for all your help! You are a terrific manager. What a difference between my GLobal LT experience and working with you!!


I cannot express enough great things about this experience. Jeancois was absolutely fantastic- professional, flexible, and dynamic- qualities I have found that some interpreters don’t always demonstrate when working with the pediatric population.

Bilingual Professor

I Would Recommend Ltc To Other Global Companies Requiring Interpretation Services. During Our Event, The Performance Of Ltc Made Me Feel At Ease Which Allowed Me To Focus My Attention On Other Aspects Of The Event. I Believe That When You Work With Ltc, You Will Receive A Professional And Efficient Team Of People Who Will Do Everything In Their Power To Deliver Excellent Service.

D. Hayden

Our ENL (English and a New Language) team refers to her as a superhero and it’s no joke—she is truly amazing! Kitty does so much more than just interpret our conferences. She is someone who understands how school works and who can give us important cultural context, which is incredibly valuable.

Director of Student Services

“Dianne’s lessons are very nice yesterday and today. I like Diana and I like her classes.”

ESL student in the Indy office

I just want to reach out and let you know that the interpreters did a great job at the conference last week. Olivia and Justin were a pleasure to work with.

Meeting Event Manager

I’m so grateful to have you interpreting these important and complex issues for our student!

Current ASL Client

Thank you. I appreciate what you do to help our Company succeed with better communication for our fellow employees.

Director of Human Resources – Staffing Company

Their phone interpretation service is a very easy and convenient service for us to use when we are seeing patients in the office. Douglas Price is a great person there and is very good at communicating with our practice and helping us with anything we need. Great company!

Practice Manager

It was the 3rd class with Kathy today. She is the best English trainer I’ve ever met. Her lessons really work good. So far I have nothing I need to ask you.

Nissan student from Japan.

Kimberly, thank you for your training, all your explanation and criticism, and so much helpful information and tools you’ve shared these past weeks. You inspired me to write more and become more proficient in this craft. GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!

US Government Student Taking Writing Classes

My Classes With Connie Have Been Excellent. I Would Even Go So Far As To Say That They Have Exceeded My Expectations.

M. Bush

I Really Have Appreciated The Classes With Nancy – She Is Wonderful Teacher And I Was Very Motivated To Learn More (And Always Felt Badly When I Struggled Because She Inspires One To Want To Be/Do Better). I Am Very Appreciative Of Having Had This Opportunity To Work With All Of You. It Is One Of The Very Best Language Classes I Have Taken In Years.

A. West

Joseph was an excellent instructor. He was very dedicated to teaching me the language skills I needed for my upcoming assignment.

Student from Government Program

The LTC Is The Best English Training Compared To My Previous Language Training Experience Because They Really Understand What I Needed And The Important And Suitable Materials Useful To Apply At My Work. They Give Me Confident To Speak In English And My Writing Is Improving.

D. Sriyunilawati

On behalf of Freedom House, I would like to sincerely thank you for you and your team’s services today. Your presence helped us to ensure that the event went smoothly and that all of the attendees were able to participate. Thank you so much!

Freedom House