Five Black women, members of the Grandview Golf Club in Braddock, the oldest public golf course in York County, Pa., decided to meet on Saturday for a round of golf. The outing ended with the club co-owner, who is white, calling the police on the only Black, female players on the course because they allegedly played too slow and did not want to cancel their membership and leave.
Sandra Thompson, 50; Myneca Ojo, 56; Sandra Harrison, 59; Carolyn Dow, 56; and Karen Crosby, 58, are experienced golf players, having played on courses throughout the county, nationally and internationally. They are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway, which has been around for at least 10 years.
Thompson, an attorney, is the president of the York branch of the NAACP and the vice chair of the county Democratic Party. In a Facebook post on Sunday, she said that she and her friends “know golf etiquette and rules,” and the group was harassed and discriminated against because they are Black and women.
“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,” she wrote.
“When I arrived, I asked permission of the clerk to play with five people because five is not always allowed. Permission was granted. Grandview was backed up, so we did not start until about 11 a.m., an hour after our tee-time. We did not complain.”
Thompson said 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.
“I felt we were discriminated against,” Ojo told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”
Ojo is the director of diversity and inclusion at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, according to her Facebook page.
She said the elder Chronister was “extremely hostile.”
Thompson said to him, “‘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.'”
She said he “walked off in a huff.”
Harrison said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro at the same hole, who said the women were fine as they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them, according to the newspaper.
“Our group was distraught at the accusations and continued wrongful treatment, so three stopped play after we finished the front 9, at about 1 p.m. With five people, we finished the first 9 in about two hours even with disruptions,” Thompson wrote on Facebook.
They took a break and Thompson and Ojo resumed play at hole 10.
“The group behind us just arrived, so we waved them on to play before us,” Thompson wrote. “However, they told us to go, because their group members wanted a beer break.”
She also took cellphone video describing the incident, where you see the men returning with drinks and food.
Chronister, his son and several other white, male employees then told the women that their break between the first and second halves of the course was too long.
“They wanted us off the course,” Thompson wrote. “They didn’t want us as members offering to refund our membership.”
The men then called the Northern York County Regional Police to remove the women from the course. Thompson said the police were “respectful.” The authorities conducted interviews and no one was charged.
“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.”
J.J. Chronister, co-owner of Grandview and wife of Jordan Chronister, said she called the women to personally apologize.
“We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the York Record on Sunday.
The same day, the golf club said in a statement on Facebook that “several of our members had an experience that does not reflect our organization’s values” and “we are disappointed that this situation occurred.”
However, on Monday, the golf club issued a second statement, which wasn’t apologetic, saying, in part, that the women didn’t follow the rules:
“In this instance, the members refused to leave so we called police to ensure an amicable result. The members did skip holes and took an extended break after the 9th hole.
“We spoke with them once about pace of play and then spoke with them a second time. During the second conversation we asked members to leave as per our policy noted on the scorecard, voices escalated, and police were called to ensure an amicable resolution.”