Four women from 'Grandview Five' incident talk diversity, inclusion with golf club owners
It's been months since York County became a point of national discussion on alleged racism during the infamous "Grandview Five" incident, but four of the five women involved met with state golf club owners Friday, Oct. 26, to make sure it wouldn't happen again.
The women spoke on a panel about diversity and inclusion at the annual Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners Association meeting for the organization of golf club owners and representatives throughout Pennsylvania.
The four women in attendance were Myneca Ojo, Sandra Harrison, Carolyn Dow and Karen Crosby. York NAACP President Sandra Thompson was absent.
The incident: The group of avid golfers, who call themselves the Sisters in the Fairway, made national headlines in April after video of them being confronted by former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister at Grandview Golf Club went viral.
Chronister, whose family owns the course, called the police on the women after they allegedly refused to leave when accused of playing too slowly. The golf club is not a member of the PGO.
In June, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission held a two-day hearing in York City about the incident involving the group that came to be known as the "Grandview Five."
All five women testified, but the Chronisters were absent both days.
At the panel event Friday, Crosby confirmed the PHRC made recommendations to Grandview Golf Club and the five women in response to the incident, but the recommendations are not public.
PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter didn't respond to phone inquiries looking for elaboration on the recommendations.
Diversity and inclusion: The panel and attendees avoided talking about the incident in detail, but it proved impossible not to reference the April 21 case of alleged discrimination.
The panel's moderator, Robert Kleckner, of Linfield National Golf Club in Montgomery County, made it clear why the women were present.
"We read about too many of these issues," Kleckner said. "When I heard about this, not only was I disgusted, I was embarrassed. I wanted to take action right away. We cannot control what happened to them, but we can control our staffs, our kids and ourselves."
But despite the disgust voiced by statewide golf club owners, the women seemed happy to discuss what can come of the event — and how their love of the sport still is alive and well.
Harrison said a positive side to the "hurtful and humiliating" event is "that we're able to have this conversation today."
Ojo, the director of diversity and inclusion at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission who was recently sworn in as mayor of Hanover, added the women still love the sport.
"One incident is not going to define how golf is considered," she said. "The love of golf is still there."
The panel served as more of an open discussion between the golf club owners and the panelists, with cost-benefit analyses of a diverse, inclusive work environment and long tangents about how to judge pace of play.
Recommendations: But the Sisters in the Fairway were able to rattle off a small list of recommendations for the club owners, and the audience seemed receptive to the advice.
Harrison said that although diversity training is important in any industry, it's just a "superficial Band-Aid" for a bigger problem — unconscious biases employers might not even recognize they have.
"The beast is an unconscious bias inherent in all of us," Harrison said. "Changing hearts, minds and deeply held beliefs that can cost an organization enormous capital is not easy."
Rather than solely relying on training, she suggested, clubs could plan events that force interaction with minorities, begin one-on-one mentoring with children of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds and open golf clinics in urban areas.
Ojo recommended golf club owners also need to realize the different areas of discrimination, which include not only race but also gender, sexuality and socioeconomic status.
Dow emphasized golf club owners need to make more systemic, cultural changes so people feel welcomed at the clubs from the moment they walk in and interact with employees.
Although the women acknowledged that changes might take time and effort on the part of club owners, all of those present agreed they are necessary steps.
Takeaways: The women's pleas to change the environment embodied by the sport led to certain audience members coming to moments of self-realization, including PGO Director of Marketing and Sales Gregg Acri.
"I'm a 64-year-old guy who is a loyal golfer," Acri said. "We are the loyalists and the golfers that play the most. But we are also the same people that feel we're most entitled."
Acri said the panel was just a first step toward progress, and Kleckner emphasized golf club owners and their staff nationwide need to keep asking questions and work to improve the services they provide.
"This is what it's all about," Kleckner said. "We need to keep learning."
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.