DOCUMENT: Sports, Crime

Argument Over Rules Of Golf Turned Violent

Cops bust pair of duffers for brawling on fairway


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Golf Course Assault

AUGUST 8--In the most embarrassing of crimes, two golfers are facing assault charges after they pummelled each other on a Pennsylvania course following an argument over rules governing puddles of water on the links.

According to a criminal complaint, Bryan Bandes, 42, and Robert Lee Harris, 63, had their good walk spoiled Sunday afternoon at the Springdale Golf Course when they began squabbling over the rules regarding “casual water.”

The duo, along with three other duffers, had their round interrupted by rain on the front nine. When play resumed, “There was a conversation and somewhat heated debate regarding the rules involving ‘casual water’ on the 5th green,” reported Trooper George Mrosko.

The dispute between the pair flared and allegedly turned violent in the fairway on the 7th hole of the public course in Uniontown, a city about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Investigators allege that Harris swung a club at Bandes, striking the younger man “in the left forearm and top of the head.” Mrosko noted, “The Victim goes down from the blow on all fours.”

After Bandes got to his feet, he traded punches with Harris (both men ended up on the ground).

As detailed in the August 6 complaint, Harris was “struck in the left side of his face and his lower lip by the Victims fist.” Bandes suffered a mild concussion and “swelling and redness” to his forearm and the top of his head. Both men were treated in the emergency room of Uniontown Hospital.

Because Harris wielded a deadly weapon--the golf club--during the confrontation, he was charged with aggravated assault, a felony, and misdemeanor simple assault. Bandes, seen at left, was charged with simple assault.

The golfers are scheduled for an August 13 preliminary hearing before District Court Judge Robert Breakiron.

Section III, Rule 25-1 of golf’s rules addresses interference by “abnormal ground conditions” such as “casual water.” Had Harris and Bandes consulted the rule book before brawling, they would have learned that a player would have been allowed to move their ball out of a puddle on the green (as long as the new spot is not closer to the hole). (3 pages)