3 golfers finish round after a $10 robbery

August 30, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Forget about the sand trap by the 16th green at Baltimore's Mount Pleasant Golf Course. The biggest hazard yesterday was the guy behind the cedar tree with a gun.

The youth emerged from behind the tree about 4:10 p.m. and held up a threesome of golfers -- among them columnist and vehement Baltimore critic Blair Lee IV -- in the second robbery on a municipal golf course in the last week.

"We had an urban experience right on the golf course," said Mr. Lee, 49. "The more I reflect on it, the shakier I get. It's getting pretty crazy out there. It makes you want to be armed when you play golf now."

The gunman and another teen-ager -- possibly armed with a baseball bat -- obtained only about $10 in the robbery and fled, leaving the three men shaken but not flustered enough that they couldn't finish their round of golf.

"I guess our thought was, 'Why not play the last two holes on the way back in?'" said Mr. Lee, a columnist for the Montgomery Journal. "I double-bogied both holes. . . . My future as a Baltimore golfer is limited. I'm not going back without an armed escort."

Mr. Lee, of Silver Spring, is the son of a former acting governor. In the past, he has referred to himself as a "suburban guerrilla" due to his resentment of Baltimore, which he maintains has unjustly received the lion's share of state aid at Montgomery County's expense.

"I'm sure the mayor will have a good laugh that I got robbed on a city golf course. I guess there is a certain irony to it," Mr. Lee said.

He and his golfing partners -- John T. Oakley, a 44-year-old property manager, and C. Fraser Smith, 56, a political reporter for The Sun -- recounted the robbery with a mix of humor and reservation yesterday.

"It was an extremely frightening thing. You don't expect to have this happen on your leisure time, to have a bandit come out of the bushes brandishing a gun," said Mr. Oakley, who made par on the following 17th and 18th holes.

Both bandits wore a cloth or towel around their faces. The gunman forced Mr. Smith -- who had hit his approach shot over the green and was closest to the cedar tree -- to get down on his knees and empty his pockets.

"He had a black handgun with about a 6-inch barrel," recalled Mr. Smith, who lives in Charles Village and had never been robbed before. "I was rooting through my pockets and my golf bag looking for my wallet. I was rather rattled. . . . I finally told him, 'I seem to have left my wallet in my car.' "

Mr. Smith said he did have about $10 in his pocket and he threw it on the ground for the youth, who looked at it and said, "Is that all the money you've got?"

The gunman then turned to Mr. Lee, who was several feet from him, and Mr. Oakley, who had hit his ball into the sand trap and was about 20 to 30 yards away.

Both men had wallets in their golf bags -- Mr. Lee had about $150, Mr. Oakley about $40 -- but they both told the youth they didn't have any money. The youth accepted their answers and he and his accomplice ran off the course, located in the 6000 block of Hillen Road.

"I wasn't about to give this punk any money," said Mr. Lee.

Mr. Oakley said he had recently heard about last Wednesday's robbery at Forest Park Municipal Golf Course, in which two teen-agers robbed a pair of golfers of $70 on the sixth hole. Police said it is unclear if the incidents are related.

"I had made a casual joke before we left for the course . . . something like, 'Gee, I hope we don't get robbed on the golf course. . . . And then it really happened," Mr. Oakley said.

Golf course officials, who wouldn't comment on the robbery, refunded the threesome's greens fees, which Mr. Oakley and Mr. Lee used to buy "Baltimore Golf" hats from the course's pro shop.

"We bought these golf hats just as mementos of our urban golf experience," Mr. Lee said.

Mr. Oakley added, "We're going to put bullet holes in them and buy T-shirts saying, 'I survived a round of Baltimore golf.' "

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