Golfer pleads not guilty to biting off part of another player’s finger in bizarre golf course brawl
PLYMOUTH — A dispute among golfers over the pace of play on a Plymouth golf course turned into a brawl in which one man allegedly bit off part of another man’s finger, police said.
Derek J. Harkins pleaded not guilty Monday in Plymouth District Court to charges of assault and battery, disturbing the peace, and mayhem for “permanently disfiguring” Daniel Menton in the incident on Friday at Southers Marsh Golf Club. Menton told police that doctors could not reattach the tip to his left index finger.
Bail was set at $10,000 cash. Harkins, 46, was ordered not to have contact with the victim and to refrain from drinking alcohol. Harkins left the courthouse Monday without speaking to reporters.
Harkins smelled of alcohol and admitted to having two to three beers before the incident, which happened at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, police said in a report filed in court.
The management at the golf club declined to comment.
Menton told police that he and seven others were playing the ninth hole when Harkins’s father, John, arrived in his golf cart and complained they were playing too slowly and cheating during an ongoing tournament.
Menton told police that he saw Derek Harkins following his father in his own golf cart “at a fast rate of speed” and that he had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. He said Harkins then sprang from the cart and punched him in the face.
Menton told police that they were wrestling on the ground when Harkins bit his finger.
“Derek Harkins grabbed his wrist and pulled his hands down near his mouth, then bit into his finger,’’ the report said. “The noise created by Derek Harkins biting onto his finger sounded like ‘someone chewing on a Dorito.’ ”
Menton shouted in pain that his finger had been bitten.
“Daniel stated that he was able to get out of the pile, and pulled his golf glove off of his hand,” the report said.
After the brawling parties were pulled apart, Menton’s son, Jake, discovered the fingertip was still inside his father’s golfing glove, the report said. The son put the fingertip into a glass of ice prior to his father being taken to the hospital.
One of the golfers shared with the police a video of the moments when the combatants separated. “While viewing the video it was clear Derek Harkins was acting out of control and was trying to be restrained by the other individuals,’’ the report said. “It should be noted that there was blood coming from his mouth and face.”
Another witness told police that Harkins was “uncontrollable” and acting like a “madman.”
John and Derek Harkins offered a different version of what happened after the initial exchange of words.
John Harkins told police he drove his golf cart onto the ninth tee to confront the other golfers. He alleged that Daniel Menton threw a punch at him but did not hit him. Harkins said his son then arrived in his cart, jumped out, and began to punch Menton.
They ended up on the ground, and other men joined the scuffle, which lasted about a minute.
John Harkins told police he did not see anyone getting a finger bitten.
According to Derek Harkins, he was jumped on by the members of the other golfing party and during the fray, a man’s hand ended up in his mouth. “He bit down on the finger until the individuals got off of him,’’ Harkins allegedly told police.
Harkins allegedly acknowledged he knew what he was doing.
“I did [bite him] and I could tell it hurt him,’’ Harkins was quoted as telling police.
According to the police report, the Menton party also had “decided to get drinks from the cart girl” prior to the confrontation.
The report said that Jake Menton spotted Harkins walking to his car and pointed him out to the police. “You must be looking for me,” Harkins told the officer. Harkins had a different shirt on and allegedly admitted to police he changed his shirt after the incident. Police recovered a bloody shirt, the report said.
Golfers who were at the course Monday expressed shock and disbelief at what happened.
One golfer, who did not want to be identified, described the incident as “crazy.”
“It’s stupid,” he said. “Golf is supposed to be fun.”
Golfer Frank Bergami said he couldn’t understand how anyone could be capable of biting off part of another’s finger.
“It blows my mind,” he said. “How do you do that?”
Brenda Wiechmann wasn’t aware of what happened until she was approached by reporters at the course.
She said she has seen golfers get upset at themselves, and even a few clubs being thrown out of frustration, but she had never heard of violence unfolding on a golf course.
“It’s not right,” she said. “People need to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
“This is a game. It’s supposed to be enjoyable.”