Countryside Country Club golfer describes discovery of feces in drinking water

CLEARWATER — Greg Tischner went to the Countryside Country Club in January and all the water coolers on the golf course were gone.

Six months had lapsed since Tischner, his father and his son stopped on the eighth hole for a drink and detected an unnatural taste and odor.

"I was just under the impression that it was turning that light color because of the little bit of Diet Coke that I still had in the bottom of my cup," he said.

A Clearwater police officer who was called to the scene would later make the stomach-turning find: dog feces.

"(My son Chris) actually vomited," Tischner said Thursday, six days after the men filed suit against the club and its Dallas parent company, ClubCorp Inc. "We were kind of in disbelief."

According to the suit, filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, Greg Tischner, 46, drank one 4-ounce paper cup of the water. John Tischner, 74, poured some in a container partly filled with a sports drink. Chris Tischner, 23, drank three to four paper cups.

"He had gotten the water first and was already through a couple cups," said Greg Tischner, a sales engineer who lives in Clearwater. "I had gotten the water second and I just noticed there just wasn't something right."

All of the men became ill. Chris Tischner, a student at St. Petersburg College, developed a rash, experienced fatigue and had trouble sleeping. John Tischner, a retired journalist who lives in Dunedin, had a fever and chills. Greg Tischner experienced nausea and had a fever. All of them were placed on antibiotics.

"We're not sure what the long-term effects of this is going to be," said Clearwater attorney George Tragos, who represents the men in the suit. "We're going to let the experts testify to those things."

The spokeswoman for ClubCorp would not comment on the case or answer general questions about its water cooler policy.

Instead, Patty Jerde e-mailed this statement to the St. Petersburg Times:

"While Countryside cannot comment further on pending litigation, Countryside continues to be committed to providing its members and guests a safe and enjoyable golf experience."

Tragos said the club did anything but on July 18, 2009. He said the club was aware of acts of vandalism at the course and failed to inspect and secure coolers before golfers consumed the contents.

"There is a specific duty that is owed by that country club to preserve it and make sure the water is safe to drink," he said. "We believe they breached that duty."

According to the suit, other area golf courses such as East Lake Woodlands Country Club lock their coolers. Greg Tischner is a member of East Lake, one of several area courses owned by ClubCorp.

"We want to make sure that this incident is not repeated," Tragos said. "We want to make sure that there's some type of remuneration for the individuals for what they suffered and that there's some punishment for the country club for having this type of a dangerous situation on their grounds."

When Greg Tischner returned to Countryside as a guest two months ago, he said the steel posts that once held the coolers and the containers that housed them were sawed off at the concrete base.

"You're basically on your own (now)," he said of changes at the course. "The only thing they have left are automated water fountains."

Jerde wouldn't discuss what, if any, changes had been made.

Greg Tischner said after last summer's incident, he's not taking any more chances.

"I pretty much bring my own (water)," he said, "or get it inside the clubhouse."

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Countryside Country Club golfer describes discovery of feces in drinking water 04/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010 8:56pm]

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