'NOT that Grandview': Pittsburgh-area golf club dealing with York course's social media storm
While York County's Grandview Golf Course has largely stayed silent since the weekend's alleged racial and gender discrimination went viral, a golf club near Pittsburgh with a similar name has been dealing with threats because of mistaken identity.
Tom Beeler, general manager of Grand View Golf Club in North Braddock, said people were calling and threatening to beat him up over an incident that happened at an unrelated club more than three hours away.
Dover Township's Grandview is where management asked a group of black women to leave Saturday, April 21, for allegedly playing too slowly, eventually calling the police on them.
The story has received widespread national attention as celebrities including singer John Legend have weighed in on Twitter, national outlets including ESPN and The Washington Post have written articles about it, and most recently, The Daily Show on Comedy Central ran a segment about it.
Beeler told The York Dispatch Wednesday, April 25, that the threatening phone calls and emails — he received more than 1,100 — have mostly subsided thanks, in part, to local news crews getting the word out that they were a completely different club.
Pittsburgh's CBS affiliate aired some recordings from Beeler's answering machine, including one from a man who said, “We’re waiting for people like you to die,” and another who said, "And I know you wouldn’t have done it if they were white, so let’s just get past that. Don’t give me (expletive)."
Beeler said he struggled to get in a word when he actually picked up the phone to speak to those making the threats, and when he was able to explain that they were not the club from the news story, callers would just hang up without apologizing.
He also pointed out that Newsweek, a national publication, helped start the initial confusion by running its own version of the story and mistakenly stating the incident happened at Grand View in Braddock.
A disclaimer at the bottom of Newsweek's story notes that a correction has been made.
More than the threats, Beeler said he is worried about the confusion having a negative effect on people's perception of his club.
Several employees spent time Tuesday, April 24, responding to the social-media storm and trying to disassociate their club from the incident, he said.
The club posted an announcement on its website and social media pages noting that they are "NOT that Grandview" and "we pride ourselves on treating all our golfers with dignity and respect."
The Yelp pages for Braddock's Grand View and Dover Township's Grandview both have an active cleanup alert notice explaining that the user-based review website may remove posts influenced more by news coverage than a reviewer's personal experience with the business.
The Grandview in York County received 64 one-star Yelp reviews since the incident out of 69 total reviews, while the club in Braddock only has one poor review and maintains a four-star overall rating.
Some Facebook users have actually given the club near Pittsburgh five-star reviews and explained that they were doing it to counteract negative reviews from misinformed users.
The Dover Township club appears to have disabled Facebook users' ability to rate the business — it's not clear whether users had that ability before the incident — and deleted the page devoted to its BrewVino restaurant at Grandview.
The owners of BrewVino, which also has a location in York City, purchased the golf course last year.
Grandview's last social-media post was its apology for the incident on Sunday, April 22. Co-owner JJ Chronister responded to York Dispatch's questions the next day, but she has not responded to follow-up questions.
Beeler said he's trying to turn the difficult situation into a positive, as he reached out to one of the women who was asked to leave the York County Grandview and invited her and the others from her group to play at his course.
— Reach David Weissman at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.