Trouble on the Golf Course

Here’s a useful practice activity for you. Two Pennsylvania golfers assaulted each other during a dispute over the rules governing puddles of water on a golf course. You can read about the incident here.

The affidavit has been published online, and it’s reproduced below. Here’s your challenge: List the changes that would be needed to transform it into a modern police report. (Scroll down for some suggestions.)

Affidavit of Probable Cause

On 08/03/14 at approx. 1300 hours the following incident took place a the Springdale Golf Course, located in South Union Township, Fayette County. A group of 5, which included the Defendant and the Victim, started playing a round of golf. At some point, early on, it rained, interrupting play. Rain stopped, and play resumed. There was a conversation and somewhat heated debate regarding e rules involving “casual water” on the 5th green, which was resolved. Play on the 6th hole continued without incident. All 5 teed off on the 7th. The Defendant and the Victim ended up about even on opposite sides of the fairway. The rule debate reignited when the Victim stated they are “rolling the ball on the fairway”. The Defendant took odds with that. Words were exchanged. This went back and forth. The Victim was saying things back to the Defendant and pointing his finger at him. The Defendant walks across the fairway, still saying things and pointing his club at the Victim. At this point the Defendant is right up to the Victim, with his club in the Victims face. The Victim put his hand up and said “get that club out of my face”. At this point the Defendant, who had his club in his hand – gripping it up near the head, swung the club, striking the Victim in the left forearm and top of the head. The Victim had put his hand up to deflect the blow, which resulted in the strike to his forearm. The Victim goes down from the blow on all fours. The Victim got up and a scuffle ensued, resulting in both of them being on the ground. During the scuffle, the Defendant was struck in the left side of his face and his lower lip by the Victims fist. The fight was broken up, both men were treated in Uniontown Hospital ER for injuries sustained during this incident. The Victim sustained swelling and redness to the top of his head, a mild concussion, and swelling and redness to his left forearm.

Suggestions:

  • You can omit many of the details that happened before the assault. Begin your report at the 7th green:

On 08/03/14 at approx. 1300 hours the following incident took place a the Springdale Golf Course, located in South Union Township, Fayette County. A group of 5, which included the Defendant and the Victim, started playing a round of golf. At some point, early on, it rained, interrupting play. Rain stopped, and play resumed. There was a conversation and somewhat heated debate regarding e rules involving “casual water” on the 5th green, which was resolved. Play on the 6th hole continued without incident. All 5 teed off on the 7th. The Defendant and the Victim ended up about even on opposite sides of the fairway.

  • Use names rather than “Defendant” and “Victim”
  • Use simple, straightforward sentences to recount what happened. As a busy police officer, you should try to avoid fillers like “The rule debate reignited” and “This went back and forth.”
  • Clarify where your information came from. Have one heading for Bryan Bandes and another for Robert Lee Harris. Organizing your report this way enhances your objectivity and credibility. You’re not taking sides; you’re reporting what each person told you.
  • Stick to past tense. “The Victim goes down from the blow on all fours” should be rewritten as “Bandes went down on all fours.”
  • Avoid wordiness: “The Victim got up and a scuffle ensued, resulting in both of them being on the ground. During the scuffle, the Defendant was struck in the left side of his face and his lower lip by the Victims fist.”
    It would be more efficient to write, “Bandes got up and fought with Harris. Both fell to the ground. Harris used his fist to strike Bandes on the left side of his face and on his lower lip.”
  • Stick to active voice. “The fight was broken up” omits important  information: Who broke it up? How? Did you take a statement from that person? That testimony might be important if the case goes to court.
  • Use an apostrophe in “Victim’s face,” “Victim’s injuries,” and similar phrases.

(Here’s one more piece of information: The rulebook for golf covers what to do when a ball lands in a mud puddle! The golfer is allowed to move the ball to a green as long as it isn’t placed closer to the hole.)

Golf club and ball in grass

 

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