Golf club calls police over group of black women 'playing too slowly'

Women accuse club owners of racial and sexual discrimination after being ordered to leave

Chris Baynes
Wednesday 25 April 2018 13:21 BST
Golf club calls police over group of black women 'playing too slowly'

A golf club has apologised for calling police over a group of black women they accused of playing too slowly.

The five women, all members of Grandview Golf Club in Pennsylvania, had refused to leave the course at the request of its owners, who claimed they were not keeping up with the pace of play.

The group have accused the club, in York County, of racial and sexual discrimination.

“It was a horrific experience,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “I felt like we were discriminated against.”

Ms Ojo had met four friends to play a round of golf on Saturday.

At the second hole a former local politician, Steve Chronister, whose white son co-owns the club, twice approached them to complain they were playing too slow.

In golfing etiquette, slow-moving players let groups behind them overtake if they are holding things up, and courses often have staff who monitor the pace of play and let golfers know when they are taking too long.

One of the five women, Sandra Harrison, spoke with a professional golfer at Grandview who said her group was causing no problems as they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid further issues, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on second half of the course, three of their group chose to leave because they were so upset by how they had been treated.

Several white men including Mr Chronister, a former York County commissioner, and his son Jordan Chronister, then approached the remaining two women and told them they had taken too long for a break and must leave the course.

In a video posted online by one of the women, lawyer Sandra Thompson, she is heard arguing they had taken an appropriate break and pointing out the men behind were drinking beer and not ready to tee off.

“Please remove yourself from our premises in the next five minutes,” owner Jordan Chronister tells her. “We have asked you three times now… and you have yet to remove yourself.”

Another man adds: “The authorities have been called.”

The women waited for the arrival of police officers, who conducted interviews before leaving without taking action.

“We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

Ms Thompson, who is president of the York branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, said in a Facebook post on Sunday: “We, the only all African American group and the only all women golf group on the Grandview Golf Club’s course, were discriminated against, refused the benefits of our membership, were told to vacate the premises, and had the police called on us.

“We have played golf for years on many courses across York County and other counties. Some have played on courses nationally and internationally. We know golf etiquette and rules.

“Our group was distraught at the accusations and continued wrongful treatment.”

In a separate post, Ms Ojho said: “We are professional women in our 50s trying to enjoy ourselves and was victimised, sectionalised and harassed playing golf. It got really scary the encounters and we are PAID members of this course.”

Co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, the wife of Jordan Chronister, said she had called the women to apologise.

“Several of our members had an experience that does not reflect our organisation’s values or our commitment to delivering a welcoming environment for everyone,” the club said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that this situation occurred and regret that our members were made to feel uncomfortable in any way.

“Our team is very sorry for any interaction that may have made any member feel uncomfortable. Please know that we are taking this issue very seriously and expect our own organisation to meet the highest standards for service that allows for everyone to feel comfortable and welcome.”

Ms Chronister said the group was welcome back at Groundview, but Ms Thompson told the York Dispatch: “It’s a tricky situation because I don’t like giving my money to people who don’t want me.

“But I don’t want to give them the benefit of success... to have reduced the number of African-Americans... to have reduced the number of women on their golf course.

“There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner.”

Discrimination is far from rare in golf clubs, some of which still formally exclude female members.

The incident at Grandview also came days after two black men were handcuffed and arrested by Philadelphia police while waiting for a friend at a Starbucks.

The coffee shop's staff had called police on 12 April after asking the men to leave because they had not bought anything.

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