Pros and Cons – Adding Disc Golf to a Golf Course

We have identified a solution that will satisfy the needs of Disc Golfers in Passaic County while preserving the natural areas of Rifle Camp Park:

Add a disk golf course to the largest County park in lower Passaic County – Preakness Valley Golf Course!

(Download a PDF copy.)

PRO: Why the Disc Golf Course belongs at Passaic County’s Preakness Valley Golf Course

There is convenient access by local transit. (Bus)

The site is fully landscaped, and disc golf can be installed immediately. The course could be cleaned and kept neat by the same staff that already maintain the golf course. Disc golf requires no specific landscaping and can be set up in any cleared area.

There is already a fully staffed Pro Shop. Kiosk packages for disc golf paraphernalia are available to serve disc golfers alongside regular golf patrons.

The site includes a restaurant and bar, which can make going there pleasant and desirable.

Restrooms, cart rental, and other facilities already exist.

Nobody is allowed to hike or walk on the golf course, which is also a restriction on an active disc golf course. Passers-by wandering onto the disc golf course will not be a problem.

The installation of a disc golf course on the outskirts of an existing golf course is considered a desirable use of otherwise unused land, and many guides can be found detailing this configuration.

Disc golf serves a different demographic than traditional golf. By encouraging them to share the same infrastructure, it allows Passaic County to leverage their investment for a new group of people.

Disc golf baskets are often warranted for 20 years of active use. Once the initial investment is made, the course can meet the stated needs of county residents for years to come without significant maintenance.

The County of Passaic already has a relationship with a professional disc golf course designer. This trained person would be ideal for laying out a quality course that meets the needs of the disc golf community without interfering with the established golf course.

The golf facilities are completely dedicated to sport, and dwarf every other Lower Passaic County Park in size. The two courses total 377 acres, with considerable boundary regions suitable for disc golf.

In the 2014 Passaic County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan, 24% of respondent households reporting using Rifle Camp Park in the past 12 months, while only 11% of respondents used the current Passaic County Golf Course facilities in the last two years: (Master Plan, Passaic County Parks, pages 28-29)
Use of Preakness Valley Golf Course: The survey revealed that 11 percent of respondent households had used Preakness Valley Golf Course in the past two years.
We suggest that if there is an underused park in Passaic County, it might be the golf courses.

See “Theodore Wirth Disc Golf Course” video,
showing disc golf played on a traditional par 3 golf course in perfect harmony:

CON: Why Rifle Camp Park is a Bad Location for a Disc Golf Course

Rifle Camp Park was clearly intended as a natural park with a nature center and hiking trails. It has served in this role since its creation.

Rifle Camp Park is the last major parcel of undeveloped property in the Passaic County Park system in Lower Passaic County. It is a resource and a refuge for the residents of Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic from city life. To develop Rifle Camp Park as a sporting facility will place traditional passive uses of the park in conflict with its use as a disc golf course.

Disc golf is played with heavy plastic disks, often with sharp edges, hurled at metal targets at high speeds. Injuries to spectators are not unusual, along with injuries to the participants themselves. (In a recent survey, over 80% of disc golf players reported sports-related injuries.
The paths taken by the flying disks are not regular or predictable, making an active disc golf course a hazardous environment for park visitors.

There are over 19 public disc golf courses in New Jersey, for a sport which remains obscure. Four major courses can be found within 16 miles of Rifle Camp Park. There is no evidence of significant demand among Passaic County residents for a new disc golf course.

New York City is the largest population center to Rifle Camp Park with a significant population of disc golfers. If installed in Rifle Camp Park, this course will be by far the closest course to New York City and the obvious choice for the thousands of city residents who play disc golf.

Passaic County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan (2014) can be found at:

The 2014 Master Plan reports that Rifle Camp Park “includes a mix of active and passive recreation”. (Master Plan, Passaic County Parks, page 16) The active recreation area of the park has been clearly defined as occupying the fields by the entrance, and the passive areas comprise the rest of the park. The installation of a disc golf course would extend active recreation to nearly the entire park, eliminating or greatly limiting passive recreation opportunities for Passaic County residents.

The 2014 Master Plan reports that in a survey respondents showed an overwhelming preference for passive recreation on hiking and nature trails. (Master Plan, Passaic County Parks, pages 28-29)
“Forty three (43) percent of respondent households indicated that they use walking and hiking trails most often. Eighteen (18) percent indicated that they used playgrounds most often. Thirteen (13) percent indicated that they used nature and river trails most often.”

The 2014 Master Plan also reports that in a survey Rifle Camp Park is the second most used Passaic County Park in the entire system, after Garret Mountain Reservation. (Master Plan, Passaic County Parks, page 28)
“The three most used areas were: Garret Mountain Reservation (45 percent of respondent households reported use in the past 12 months); Rifle Camp Park (24 percent of respondent households reported use in the past 12 months); and Goffle Brook Park (22 percent of respondent households reported use in the past 12 months).”
If the Nature Center and Observatory were reopened for educational programs, we have no doubt that the use of this park by Passaic County residents would return to historic levels without adding a disc golf course.

The Audubon Societies of both New Jersey (State) and Bergen County (National) have each clearly stated that Rifle Camp Park contains “extremely valuable and sensitive habitat”. This park is registered as part of an Important Birding Area, and is considered a valuable resource worthy of protection.
There are additional strong objections from the Sierra Club:


2 Replies to “Pros and Cons – Adding Disc Golf to a Golf Course”

  1. This whole area has become too developed with all tbat is going in on valley road. Dosent anybody gave any humanity for all the animals that occupy rifle camp park. This is some greedy group to jepordize this area any further.

    Learn to care about the animals and how the area has been used by families. Whomever changes this will burn in hell. Shame even for thinkimg of such a stupid thing.

  2. These lists are irrelevant for many reasons. Having a proshop and carts is not a reason to put the course by the preakness valley golf course. Disc golfers play by showing up to a park with their discs and just playing for free and it is played by walking, there is no riding in a cart. The discs and the game is described as being very dangerous, that is a lie. The discs are hard, but the don’t hit anyone. It is more hazardous having a golf course near a road, than it is to have a disc golf course in a park. All other disc golf courses are in public parks where people are riding bikes, walking, or enjoying the park. People are not in harms way like the above article is saying. There would be trees that would have to come down, but not too many, and ones that would be coming down are those that are not getting enough light and nutrients that are actually hurting other trees as they are right now. The game is played in the woods, with the trees, it is not like a golf course where everything needs to be downed.

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