After getting a good night’s sleep last night, I was excited, as I actually had a new disc golf course that I could play that was within WALKING distance of our townhouse! I am used to needing to DRIVE more than an hour to get to any unplayed course, so being able to walk to one is a rare treat. That said, when I arrived at Dairy Creek DGC in Hillsboro, Oregon, I was met with a few homeless camps on the periphery of the course/park.

Homelessness makes me so sad. People who wind up having no roof over their head. No safe place to sleep. No reliable source of heat, food or restrooms. It has been a while since I have disc golfed around a homeless camp in a park. I think the last time was at Don Dahvee Open Space in Monterey, California. After that experience, my youngest daughter and I participated in a week-long mission trip with Praying Pelican Missions in Santa Rosa, California. Working with the homeless who had been displaced during some of the major California wildfires that year. I’ll never forget the lessons learned on that trip. As an example, talking with “The Professor,” a homeless man who went from being a university professor to being homeless in Berkeley after a health-related issue was enough to force him from a job, a house, a normal social life into a life of living on the street.

I was having a lot of conflicting emotions after disc golfing around those homeless camps. Wanting to do whatever I could to help! Feeling a little unsafe and hoping nobody saw me as a target to score some quick cash (or taking my things to try and turn into cash). The entrepreneur in me thinking there MUST be a better way for society as a whole to deal with the affordable housing crisis we are facing as a nation! Etc. But mostly just feeling sad and a little guilty. Knowing how several people living in the park are struggling/hurting. While I am there, with my biggest worries being not losing any $15-$20 discs during my round, and getting photos from every tee to add to the course record at 🙁

Homelessness on the Disc Golf Course - Tonn's Travels
View from the Hole 8 tee at Dairy Creek DGC in Hillsboro, Oregon.

I took great care to avoid taking pictures of any homeless individuals while taking pictures in the park, as I felt that might be seen as a sign of disrespect. But a couple of those “homes” in the park are burned into my memory. Wishing/Hoping that life improves for those individuals in the future.

I shot a -4 (23) for an estimated round rating of 973 on the course. But all I could think about were a few of the people I encountered while in the park. Portland has SO many more people who are living on the streets than we even saw three years ago. SO many homeless camps are set up under overpasses along the freeways! It breaks my heart. There are fantastic local resources, such as the Portland Rescue Mission, doing their very best to help! But the problem is growing faster than the solution(s). And I wish I was a whole lot smarter and better connected, so I could do more than write about it or participate in a mission trip.

We’re all just people! Although some of us have been dealt a much, MUCH tougher hand. Like “The Professor” in Berkeley. White-collar and middle class one day, living on the street and unable to work the next. Through absolutely no fault of his own.

Magic Number = 91 (1,909 Courses Played)

How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.

About Derek

Homelessness on the Disc Golf Course - Tonn's Travels

Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed’s (the father of disc golf and the modern-day Frisbee) vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.