Alleged putter attack ends in battery charges

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Michael Rich, 38, was charged with aggravated battery after allegedly attacking a playing partner with his putter. (Palm Beach Sheriffs Office)

Labor Day ... a time to kick back, take the day off, get together with friends and maybe sneak in a round of golf if you're so inclined.

Just make sure to bring three people to fill out your foursome that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt won't turn into a putter-wielding maniac and (allegedly) attack you before you even get to the turn.

That's the "mistake" Tony Nazzaro, 72, made when he and his friend Roy Hall were paired with Michael Rich and another man on a busy holiday at Madison Green Golf Club in Royal Palm Beach. According to Nazzaro, Rich, 38, was unfriendly from the get-go, refusing to shake hands, ride in the same cart or even make small talk. But what started as an awkward round allegedly turned violent on the seventh green.

WESH.com reports that Rich complained Nazzaro didn't move or mark his ball while he was tending the pin. To which Nazzarro jokingly replied, "What, is this a $100,000 putt or something?"

The remark reportedly angered Rich to the point that he started stomping on the green, using his cleats to rip up the turf while saying, "I'm walking in your line, I'm walking in your line."

When Nazzaro pulled out his phone to call the pro shop, police say Rich swung his putter at the back of Nazzaro's legs, hitting him hard enough to knock him to the ground and break the head of the putter completely off. Then holding essentially a sword, Nazzaro said Rich began threatening him and the rest of the group. “I’m going to stick you in the (expletive) eye, I’m going to stab you in the liver,” Nazzaro said Rich told him.

Rich then allegedly used the putter shaft to knock Nazzaro's phone out of his hand, slicing his arm in the process.

Rich left the course, but returned and was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. Nazzaro was fine after receiving treatment at the emergency room.

“In all the time I’ve been golfing, I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude happen on a golf course,” said Nazzaro. “They asked me if I wanted him arrested, and I said no. But I told them, he belongs somewhere. This guy is crazy.”