Black Experience

Pa. Golf Club That Called Cops on Black Women Members Faces Business Backlash, Potential Investigation

After the co-owner of Grandview Golf Club in York County, Pa., called the police on five Black women members for allegedly golfing too slow, the club’s business vendors are beginning to bail and a state senator is calling for an investigation.

Sandra Thompson, 50; Myneca Ojo, 56; Sandra Harrison, 59; Carolyn Dow, 56; and Karen Crosby, 58, were the only group of African Americans, and women, on the golf course on April 21. The women say they experienced racial and gender discrimination.

In a Facebook post on April 22, Thompson, an attorney and president of the York branch of the NAACP and the vice chair of the county Democratic Party, explained that former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, the father of Grandview’s co-owner Jordan Chronister, spoke on behalf of the club and harassed the group twice, starting after they teed off on the second hole, saying they weren’t keeping up with the pace. He then offered to refund their membership.

Thompson said the women, who are experienced golf players and part of a larger group of local women golfers known as Sisters in the Fairway, played at the same pace as everyone else on the course and have witnesses who will corroborate the fact they weren’t playing slowly.

The club co-owner called the authorities and the elder Chronister told police the women were delaying tee times for other golfers and then asked officers to remove them.

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

Jacob Hammill is president of Casta Cigars Co., a boutique cigar shop that had previously done business with Grandview. In a Facebook post, Hammill denounced the actions of the golf club and said the company would no longer provide its services:

“The incident that transpired at Grandview Golf Club was unacceptable and does not align with the values of Casta Cigars. Our shop on East King Street is a diverse and welcome place for anybody to enjoy a cigar. To be clear, our affiliation with Grandview was a one-time transaction made months ago and although we can’t predict the behavior of our customers, we will prohibit any future sales to Grandview Golf Club.”

Grand View Golf Club, a separate and unaffiliated club located outside of Pittsburgh, has been bombarded with complaints from people who have mistaken it for the club in York County. KDKA reports that callers have left messages calling the Pittsburgh course racist.

State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery County) sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission calling for an investigation into racial and gender discrimination at the club. He also expressed his support for the women.

“I’m just so damned frustrated,” Hughes said in a statement. “We have to deal with situations like this too frequently. This time, police determined it was not a matter they should have been involved in, but it is appalling that someone would call the police for a non-violent incident where the only crime was being black on a public golf course.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, in addition to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on African-American Affairs and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, released a statement asking the community to fight against discrimination.

“We must do everything we can to curb the painful and far-reaching impact of bias, prejudice, and hate on individuals across the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “We must all work together to stand up for what is right and protect individuals in our communities from discrimination.”

He added, “We urge business managers and owners to reflect upon the treatment of individuals who seek to patronize your businesses.”

Sisters in the Fairway participated in the YWCA’s Race Against Racism in York, Pa., on Saturday.

Thompson posted about the event on Facebook:

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