Jerry Higgins: No longer golfing at Grandview

Higgins was the only male golfer to testify at last month's hearing

Jerry Higgins, a golfer that was in the group behind the women on April 21, answers questions last month presented by Kathy W. Morrison, chief counsel of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

A lone white male golfer who testified last month at a racial discrimination hearing in York said he will no longer patronize the Dover Township course.

The golfer, Jerry Higgins, was among those that testified during the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission’s two-day hearing that was held in response to an incident that garnered national attention at Grandview Golf Club. Management at Grandview called the police on five African-American women allegedly because they were playing too slowly.

The women were: Sandra Thompson, 50, Myneca Ojo, 56; Karen Crosby, 58; and sisters Sandra Harrison, 59, and Carolyn Dow, 56.

But Higgins, who was playing behind the women, said the women were playing quickly and practiced good golf etiquette. 

“It would have been the easy route to stay silent. I think an impartial view needed to be heard,” Higgins said.

In the weeks following April 21, he said he had played behind a group of “inebriated white men” at Grandview. Police were not called on and they were allowed to play all 18 holes.

Since testifying, Higgins says he’s received mixed feedback from the general public. Some offer pats on the back for sharing his perspective, while others have been openly racist or even suggest maybe he’s been paid to speak, he said.

Grandview representatives declined to participate in the hearing because of the pending litigation, they stated in a letter to the commission’s executive director, Chad Lassiter. The club said their actions were not motivated by race or gender during the incident.  

To Higgins, the business’ lack of appearance at the hearing was disheartening.

“There was no reason that they couldn’t just come and hear what these ladies had to say. They didn’t listen to them on April 21 and they’re still not listening to them now,” he said.

At the hearing, the women said they had purchased memberships for the golf club after the ownership had changed hands to Chronister and other partners. Each of the women paid $177 for a three-year membership. 

Higgins, who has been playing golf since he was 16, joined the club in December. He purchased a one-year membership for $895. At the time, the avid golfer said he thought it was a good price – especially since he lives only four miles from the course. But now, even with six months left and open tee times every day, Higgins says he’s not interested.

“I can play without putting a nickel down,” he said. “But I don’t want to support them [Grandview]. For now, I’ll guess I’ll be a vagabond golfer.”

Emily Thurlow
​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com.

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