Golf courses tighten security after holdup

August 31, 1994|By Howard Libit and Peter Hermann | Howard Libit and Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writers

Sparked by the second armed robbery of golfers in less than a week, the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. beefed up security yesterday at its five public golf courses.

City police also increased their visibility at Mount Pleasant Golf Course, the site of the most recent robbery.

Two masked youths robbed three golfers of $10 at gunpoint Monday on the 16th hole at Mount Pleasant, and, in an incident that police believe to be unrelated, two teen-agers robbed a pair of golfers of $70 at the Forest Park Golf Course last Wednesday. No one was injured in either robbery, but a robber armed with a rifle fired a shot during the incident at Forest Park.

Among the victims of Monday's robbery were outspoken Baltimore critic Blair Lee IV, a columnist for the Montgomery Journal, and C. Fraser Smith, political reporter at The Sun.

"We are stepping up patrols in the area and are giving special attention to the [Mount Pleasant] Golf Course and the surrounding areas," said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman. "The special attention is so that we may ensure the safety of recreational activities."

On each of the five courses run by the corporation, a third marshal has been added, and groundskeepers will trim back bushes and trees that create areas for cover, said Jon W. Ladd, director of golf for the private, nonprofit group.

"We have taken steps to increase our personnel and put more staff on the golf course," Mr. Ladd said. "But I don't think that things could be totally secure even if we put one person on every hole."

Four of the corporation's golf courses are in the city.

Another, Pine Ridge, is on city-owned watershed land near Loch Raven Reservoir in Baltimore County.

Despite the recent crimes, most people playing on city golf courses yesterday appeared relatively unconcerned, saying there is little they can do to prevent being victimized other than to use common sense.

"It happens every once in a while. It's nothing new, and there's nothing you can do," said James Bedford Jr., 71, of West Baltimore, as he warmed up on the practice green before a round at Mount Pleasant.

Paul Susie, 27, of Rodgers Forge, said he makes sure not to carry more than $30 or $40 out on the golf course but has not taken any additional precautions.

"There is less chance of being robbed here than in downtown Baltimore," said Mr. Susie, as he approached the first tee of Mount Pleasant.

At Clifton Park Golf Course -- which has not experienced an armed robbery this summer -- golfers also seemed confident about security during their rounds of golf.

"I've never had any problems in 15 years of playing golf here," said Joe Gallup, 49, of Rosedale. "These crimes aren't going to stop me."

The big concern, according to Joe Laker, 33, of Perry Hall, would be if someone were to be shot during one of the robberies.

"Additional security is not going to help because the golf course is so large," said Mr. Laker, who plays about twice a week.

The city's golf courses have a history of occasional robberies on the fairways, including a string of four robberies in one week at Forest Park during July 1974.

Last year, a man was found lying dead on a golf cart path near Mount Pleasant's 15th green with two gunshot wounds in the back of his head.

Eight years ago, four youths robbed Police Col. Marcellus Boles, who at the time was the major in charge of the Western District, while he played alone at Forest Park.

Two days later Colonel Boles returned to the course to play golf with two police officials. The threesome saw two of the same youths holding up other golfers and they jumped into their golf carts, chased down the robbers and arrested them.

The commander of the Northeastern District warned yesterday that something similar could occur if armed robberies continue on city courses.

"A lot of off-duty police officers play at the courses, at Mount Pleasant in particular," said Maj. Bert Shirey. "A guy may think he is sticking up someone with a nine iron and it may end up that the person he's robbing has a 9 millimeter instead."

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