FIRST GENO'S STEAKS, now the LPGA.

A few years ago, Joey Vento, the owner of the famous South Philly steak emporium, placed a sign in the window that read: "This is America. When ordering please speak English."

Starting next year, the LPGA will require the same of its players, giving them an oral English exam to determine their proficiency in the language. And, those who have been members of the LPGA for at least 2 years will face suspension if they don't pass.

According to the Associated Press, there are 121 LPGA international players from 26 countries, including 45 from South Korea.

Not surprisingly, the policy is already drawing complaints, particularly from the South Koreans. According to Golfweek magazine, which first reported the story, they already need a translator. The magazine wrote that all the South Korean players they interviewed thought they would lose the tour card if they failed the test.

The PGA, by the way, does not require its players to speak English. But Kate Peters, the tournament director of the LPGA State Farm Classic, supports the new LPGA policy.

"This is an American tour," Peters said. "It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience."

Sounds like a tour Vento could sink his teeth into. Wonder when the the inaugural Geno's Cheese Wit Open will take place?

What? No more broken-bat singles?

Ward Dill has a sound invention that he thinks can make baseball safer.

Sound because you won't hear the "ping"

of aluminum or the "crack" of splintering wood.

Dill, you see, has invented an unbreakable wooden bat that he promises will prevent injuries because it won't shatter like conventional wood.

"I liked it, it felt great," said Ed Koeffling, a Montclair State outfielder who helped test the bat. "I liked the handle. Usually bats like that break easy. This felt pretty durable."

The cost? Adult models run about $150. Youth models go for $100 to $120. *

- Tom Mahon