What started out as a relaxing day at a Pennsylvania golf course turned into an ugly confrontation between the white men who run the club and five black women who were playing there.
It had echoes of other recent incidents, at a Starbucks in Philadelphia and a Waffle House in Alabama, in which black customers found themselves in racially charged disputes. Once again, the police were summoned. Once again, a video spread widely on social media and drew national attention.
On Saturday in a largely white suburban community in Dover Township, York County, the women began playing at Grandview Golf Club before being told that they were moving too slowly, said one of the women, Sandra Thompson, 50, a lawyer and the president of the York chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.
“Many of us were having great drive days. We were slamming that ball,” she said on Tuesday. “So when they were trying to say ‘too slow of a pace,’ that was just false.”
Their day started out with a hiccup: Frost on the course delayed their tee time by an hour, Ms. Thompson said, so they weren’t able to start playing until 11 a.m. Though a foursome is the norm, the club permitted a group of five, she said.
Then, as they teed off on the second hole, she explained, they were approached by a former county commissioner who, according to The York Daily Record, serves in an advisory role for the golf course. He asked them twice to leave and threatened to cancel their memberships over their pace of play, she said.
Later, after the group finished playing nine holes, three of the women left. The remaining two, Myneca Ojo, 56, and Ms. Thompson, had just finished a break and were going to start the second nine holes, when they were approached by one of the club’s owners and other employees, who said that their break took too long and that they had called the police.
Ms. Ojo, a director of diversity and inclusion at a state agency, on Tuesday described their interactions with the club officials as “demeaning” and “hostile.” Ms. Thompson recorded video showing part of the confrontation and later posted it on YouTube and Facebook.
Officers arrived and “quickly determined that this was not a police issue,” Mark L. Bentzel, chief of the Northern York County Regional Police Department, said. After speaking with both of the parties involved, he said, “there was no need for us to be there and we left.”
No charges were filed, Chief Bentzel added.
Everyone disbanded, and the women left the golf course.
“The police were respectful, so it is not about the police,” Ms. Thompson said in her Facebook post.
That contrasted with other episodes involving black customers that have fueled fury online this month. At the Starbucks in Philadelphia and the Waffle House in Alabama, the police made arrests.
The former county commissioner, Steve Chronister, and the club’s co-owner, his son, Jordan Chronister, could not be reached for comment. Calls to the Grandview Golf Club went to voice mail, and the recorder was too full to accept messages.
Jordan and J.J. Chronister, co-owners of the golf club, said in a statement to the television station Fox 43, “While our intention was to ensure all teams on the course were moving through in a timely manner, the interaction between our members and our ownership progressed in a manner that was not reflective of our company’s values or expectations for our own professionalism.”
Ms. Thompson said that it was the first time the women had used their memberships at the golf club, which recently came under new ownership, but that they had played at the course multiple times.
They all belong to a golfing club, Sisters in the Fairway, and have played at courses “all over the world,” Ms. Ojo said, so they knew how to keep pace. Even so, the women said, they skipped the third hole after Steve Chronister approached them.
“The only other difference between us and the other players was our race and our gender,” Ms. Thompson said.
York, a county of small towns, suburbs and farmland in southern Pennsylvania about 50 miles north of Baltimore, is predominantly white, said Ms. Ojo, who lives there. Black and latino people are concentrated in the largest municipality, the city of York.
“This ain’t Baltimore,” she added. Throughout the episode, Ms. Ojo said, she and her fellow golfers “were treated less than human beings.”
In Ms. Thompson’s video, Jordan Chronister can be seen saying, “Congratulations, you’re a real winner,” adding, “Remove yourself from our premises within the next five minutes, please.”
“The authorities have been called,” another man said.
“Back off,” Steve Chronister told his son on camera. “This is what she wants. This is what she does for a living.”
Ms. Thompson said that the group had completed nine holes in two hours. Not only were they playing on pace, the sole group playing behind them had also not been impeded, she said. That group can be seen on the video, taking a break before teeing off.
“They were not rushing,” she said. “They were out, just like we were, out having a good day. They were leisurely.”
Both Ms. Thompson and Ms. Ojo said that the group behind them had not complained. In fact, Ms. Thompson added, one of the men from that group “came to us and told us how outraged he was at our treatment.”
Ms. Thompson said that after her Facebook post, J.J. Chronister, who identified herself as Jordan Chronister’s wife, called and apologized. But, Ms. Thompson said, none of the women have heard directly from the two men.
“We’re going to pursue all remedies that are available” to change how the golf club treats women of color, Ms. Thompson said, though no formal complaint has been filed. “Whatever needs to be done for them to take this seriously,” she said.
The altercation continues to draw anger from around the country, some of it misdirected. The similarly named but unrelated Grand View Golf Club near Pittsburgh had to put a notice on its website after being inundated with complaints. “We pride ourselves on treating all our golfers with kindness, respect, and courtesy,” that club wrote. “Please do not attack us on Facebook, Twitter, Google, or any other platform as we are NOT that course.”
Published at Wed, 25 Apr 2018 15:29:48 +0000