The longest-running non-major tournament on the LPGA Tour is changing venues because of an ever-growing homeless encampment that borders Columbia Edgewater Country Club, which has hosted the Cambia Portland Classic for 42 of its 49 years.
According to a report by the (Portland) Oregonian, tournament organizers came to this last-minute decision because of safety concerns.
“It was a really tough decision,” Tom Maletis, president of Tournament Golf Foundation, the Portland-based nonprofit organization that runs the event, told The Oregonian. “We are frustrated and disappointed about the move. But it’s just something that we feel is best for the tournament and everyone involved.”
Instead, the tournament’s 50th anniversary will be celebrated at Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, a Portland suburb about 26 miles south of the city.
Columbia Edgewater CC is located in northeast Portland and the road that borders the club was once a tree-lined, bike-friendly stretch. Now it has become one of Portland’s largest homeless encampments, full of trailers, tents, rubble and garbage, the Oregonian reported.
The area in question is near Columbia Edgewater’s entrance and surrounds a nearby parking lot that would have affected fans, players, volunteers and media – practically everyone who would have attended the tournament, which is scheduled for Sept. 16-19.
Portland officials vowed to have the area cleaned up before September but tournament organizers decided that without a guarantee from the city, there was no choice but to move to Oregon GC.
“They gave us some positive feedback,” Maletis said of city and port officials. “It’s possible a solution could have come to fruition. But it wasn’t anything we could rely on and we were not completely convinced our concerns would be addressed and taken care of it. As much as we wanted to kind of hang tight and hope everything would be all right, we just didn’t really know.”
The event has raised more than $18 million for charity since 1972, benefitting the Boys & Girls Club, Easterseals of Oregon and the Oregon Food Bank, among others.