The sponsorship money that is increasingly pumped into sport has brought many benefits, but also much controversy. The latest row in the world of golf shows what can happen when those running a sport go too far in a bid to please financial backers. It concerns the Ladies Professional Golf Association of the United States, which runs the American women's golf tour. The LPGA has warned that non-English speakers among the tour's 120-odd members must be conversant in the language within two years or risk being suspended. The ruling discriminates against non-English-speaking golfers. And it has been taken in the name of sponsorship. The LPGA explains that to be successful today it is not enough to be a great competitor. A player also has to be able to communicate effectively with big-money English-speaking corporate sponsors and fans. The men's US golf tour has no such language rule; nor does tennis, in which 50 countries are represented among the men and women currently contesting the US open championship. If anything sets golf apart, it is the players' participation with sponsors in the combined professional-amateur golf day that precedes big tournaments. Tennis sponsors do not get to have a knock-up with the likes of Roger Federer. A day on the golf course with a foreign player who needs an interpreter might be a little frustrating. But this is not a sufficient justification for introducing the language requirement. The move will hit South Korean golfers especially hard, as there are 45 of them on the women's tour. English may be the dominant international language in communications, business and diplomacy. But top sportspeople communicate with skills that transcend boundaries and cultures. The Beijing Olympic Games were a reminder of that. In return for the rich prize money on offer, sportspeople do have an out-of-competition duty to the sponsors and fans who make it all possible. Nonetheless, threatening them with suspension is a heavy-handed way to encourage them to learn English. The LPGA has been at the forefront of the fight for equality for elite sportswomen. It should not proceed with this discriminatory rule. The association should learn from other sports that impose no language barrier - but provide English tutors for their foreign stars.