Five black women say they were discriminated against at a Pennsylvania golf club when they were told they were taking too long on the course – and then the police were called.
On Saturday morning, the women — who according to local media were experienced golfers and part of a group called Sisters in the Fairway — teed off at Grandview Golf Course in York County. The women told the York Daily Record that they were told by the club's owners they were not keeping a quick enough pace. The club offered to refund their memberships and then called 911.
The confrontation follows similar confrontations between businesses, their customers or members, and the police. From the arrests of two African-American men at a Philadelphia Starbucks, to a 911 call made on two African-American men working out at a New Jersey gym, the incidents have reignited racial tensions in commercial spaces and cast scrutiny on how law enforcement and companies respond.
Golf has also historically struggled to include and advance African-Americans, from elite athletes to amateur players.
"I felt we were discriminated against," one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. "It was a horrific experience."
Sandra Thompson, another of the women who is also the president of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the Daily Record that her group was set to tee off at 10:08 a.m. Saturday, but that they were delayed for almost an hour because of frost on the course. Thompson said she a clerk at the course said the group could play with five players, as opposed to a more traditional group of four or fewer.
After completing their second hole, Ojo and another woman in the group, Karen Crosby, said they were approached by Steve Chronister who told them he was the owner of the club and that the women needed "to keep up the pace of play."
"He was extremely hostile," Ojo told the York Daily Record.
JJ Chronister, the club's co-owner, said her father-in-law Steve is not an owner of the club but instead serves in an advisory capacity. Also at the second hole, another woman in the group, Sandra Harrison, talked with a course golf pro who said the women were keeping up a fine pace.
Chronister approached the women again to say to hurry along. Thompson said they had kept the group ahead of them within their sights the whole time, as it consistent with golf etiquette.
Thompson said Chronister told them, "you're going too slow, I'll give you a refund," suggesting he didn't want the women as members.
"I said, 'Do you realize we're the only black women on this course, and you're only coming up to us? We paid, we want to play.' He walked off in a huff," Thompson told the York Daily Record.
The group skipped the third hole, only to arrive at the fourth hole behind a group that had not yet teed off, Thompson said.
When the women reached the ninth hole, three of the women — Harrison, Crosby and Carolyn Dow, left because they were so shaken up by the confrontation. Thompson said that she and Ojo were then approached by Steve Chronister and his son, Jordan Chronister, who is JJ's husband.
The Chronisters, along with other employees, told the women they had five minutes to leave and that they had called the police. They were also offered checks to refund their memberships.
Crosby described Jordan Chronister as "aggressive, confrontational and condescending" to the York Daily Record.
Jordan Chronister told the women that he had timed them on their break and that they had gone beyond the 20-minute time cap. Yet Thompson noted that the women were also told they had been timed as being on the first nine holes for one hour, 45 minutes. The total course rules allow four hours and 15 minutes — suggesting the women would have had time to spare if they kept their pace for the last nine holes.
Officers from the Northern York County Regional Police arrived and left without filing any charges.
"No result on our end, no action," Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel told the York Daily Record. "We were called there for an issue. The issue did not warrant any charges. All parties left, and we left as well."
In an updated statement released Monday, JJ Chronister said that in the past, "players who have not followed the rules, specifically pace of play, have voluntarily left at our request as our score card states. In this instance, the members refused to leave so we called police to ensure an amicable result … During the second conversation we asked members to leave as per our policy noted on the score card, voices escalated, and the police were called to ensure an amicable resolution."
JJ Chronister told the York Daily Record that her family was interested in "getting long-term resolution, not short-term resolution … We're not looking at surface or quick fixes, because surface or quick fixes doesn't fix the mindset of what led to this."
Thompson told the York Daily Record that she was hoping for sensitivity and diversity training — not just a meeting with the golf club.