An annual women’s professional golf tournament won’t be held at its typical location at a Portland country club this September because the tournament organizers believe nearby homeless camps have made the club unsafe.
The Columbia Edgewater Country Club broke the bad news to its members on June 20. For thirty years, the private club, in deep Northeast Portland on Marine Drive, has helped host the Ladies Professional Golf Association Portland Classic, a tournament on the LPGA tour.
County club board president Ken Smith wrote on Sunday afternoon that the Tournament Golf Foundation “had concerns about the safety of the city and opted to find a venue out of the city limits.”
Smith announced that the hosts would instead be moving the tournament to the Oregon Golf Club, which is in West Linn.
“Their reason for departure center around the City of Portland’s response to safety and security around the city,” Smith wrote, but declined to disclose any details about specific concerns.
But the event’s organizers, Tournament Golf Foundation, were more forthcoming: They said the safety risk came from nearby homeless camps.
“Portland has experienced a rise in houselessness, including the areas surrounding Edgewater,” the foundation wrote in an email to players in the tournament. “With respect to the health and safety of LPGA players, staff, fans and local community, TGF has elected to relocate the tournament for 2021.”
Portland mayoral aide Sam Adams tells WW he met with the Tournament Golf Foundation about a month ago, and it relayed that the LPGA had “expressed concerns about the safety of the surrounding area, the houseless camps and the fact that the camps were in very rough shape.”
Adams, who oversees homeless policies for Mayor Ted Wheeler, says that “they wanted to know why the city wasn’t doing anything about it...If you’ve been out there, it’s rough. We need to address those kinds of issues not only for any potential conflict but because folks in those areas are living in squalor.”
Adams says the TGF did not expressly ask the city to move or clean up the camps: “They felt that the need to clean things up and the size of the issue was too great and an undue burden that the city was facing,” so they decided to move it outside of the city.
Much of the land where the camps are located is Port of Portland property, which the city will at times take liberty to clean.
Smith said the future of the tournament returning to Edgewater is uncertain.
Adams tells WW: “We’re going to work hard to get next year’s event back at Edgewater.”
The LPGA did not respond to a request for comment, and the Tournament Golf Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.