Pennsylvania Golf Club Ejects Black Women, Including NAACP's Sandra Thompson, for 'Playing Slowly'

Updated | A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized after calling the police to eject a group of black women who had allegedly refused to leave the premises after being told they were playing too slowly.

On Saturday, April 21, Sandra Thompson and four friends (Myneca Ojo, Sandra Harrison, Carolyn Dow and Karen Crosby) met up to play at the Grandview Golf Club in Dover Township, Pennsylvania.

The five women are all members of the club and were scheduled to tee off at 10:08 a.m. ET, but play did not get underway until 11 a.m. as there was frost on the course.

Thompson added that she had even asked one of the course clerks whether the size of the group would pose a problem—golf courses tend to limit groups to four at most—and she was apparently reassured there would be no issues at all.

Ojo and Crosby were approached at the second hole by a white male, who twice complained to them that they were not keeping up with the speed of play.

The man has since been identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, the father of club's co-owner Jordan Chronister.

"I was approached by Steve Chronister, and he said, 'I'm one of the owners and you need to keep up the pace of play," Crosby was quoted as saying by the York Daily Record. "To me, that was a gross misrepresentation of who he was."

Moving through the golf course at a regular pace is one of the principles of golf etiquette and while slow-moving players are rarely asked to speed their game up, it is considered common courtesy to allow groups behind them through.

The majority of golf courses employ personnel to monitor the pace of play and to ensure golfers are told whether they have to quicken their pace or let fellow players move ahead of them.

"Playing at a better pace is not about hurrying up or rushing around the course," the United States Golf Association states on its website. "It is simply about being more efficient with your valuable time, as well as everyone else's."

Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York County branch of the NAACP, told the York Daily Record that the group rejected the suggestion they were not moving quickly enough.

Harrison said she spoke with a club regular who told them their pace of play was fine, seeing as they were keeping up with the group ahead of them on the course. The five are part of a larger group of women known locally as "Sisters on the Fairway," and have reportedly played on a number of golf courses across the country and abroad, and are familiar with golf etiquette.

When Chronister senior approached Thompson for a second time to tell them they were going too slow and offering a refund, she dismissed him. "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."

Nevertheless, the women decided to skip the third hole to avoid exacerbating the issue before Harrison, Dow and Crosby opted to leave the course after the ninth hole.

At this point, the Chronisters returned, accompanied by a number of white male employees, and argued the remaining women had taken too long a break and they should be leaving the course. The ninth hole marks the halfway stage of a round of golf and it is customary for players to take a short break before taking on the remaining nine holes.

The women argued the length of their break had been adequate and pointed out the group behind them was still enjoying its break, but they were told the police had been called and that they had five minutes to leave.

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

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

J.J. Chronister, Jordan Chronister's wife and the co-owner of the club, said she had personally apologized to the women and aimed to get "long-term resolution" and to ensure the event remains an isolated incident.

"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 newspaper. "We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience."

On Monday, she issued a second statement reading: "Grandview currently has 2,400 members. In the past players who have not followed the rules, specifically pace of play, have voluntarily left at our request as our scorecard states.

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."

The office of Sandra Thompson has not replied to a request for comment.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we said an incident occurred at the Grandview Golf Club in Braddock, Pennsylvania. It actually happened at Grandview Golf Club in Dover Township, Pennsylvania.