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Disc Golf at Northwest Branch Recreational Park

woman throwing a disc into a basket, playing disc golf.
Photo of dozens of residents and stakeholders attending the community meeting on June 20, 2023.

Project Description

M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks is currently planning for an 18-hole disc golf course at Northwest Branch Recreational Park, adjacent to the National Capital Trolley Museum (NCTM). This will be the first 18-hole disc golf course in the Montgomery Parks system.

M-NCPPC owns and operates an 18-hole disc golf course at Calvert Road Park in College Park (Prince George’s County), and there is a 27-hole, public disc golf course at Seneca Creek State Park in Germantown.

Montgomery Parks is planning for this disc golf course not only because players have been requesting one for years, but it’s also recommended in the 2022 Parks Recreation and Open Space Plan (PROS) as a facility type we should be providing to county residents.

What is disc golf? 

Disc golf is played much like “traditional” golf except, instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc. The sport was formalized in the 1970s and shares with “traditional” golf the object of completing each hole in the fewest strokes (or, in the case of disc golf, the fewest throws).  A disc golf course is laid out like a “traditional” golf course with tees and fairways, but instead of a putting green with a hole/cup, there is a basket into which the disc is thrown to complete each hole.

Disc golf courses are “designed with nature”, which is to say they do not require much land development. Each hole has two 12’x6’ tee boxes for different skill levels, a 50’ mowed or cleared fairway, and a basket (with options for multiple placements). Natural surface pathways guide players from hole to hole. Aside from tee boxes, fairways, and areas near each basket, the rest of the park will be natural and lightly maintained.

Why Northwest Branch Recreational Park?

This park is in an area of the county that has both good road and transit access. The parkland adjacent to the NCTM is ideal for a disc golf course.  This area of the park is undeveloped, except for the NCTM and a nearby new Athletic Field Team maintenance yard for M-NCPPC, Montgomery County. The NCTM has an existing parking lot and utilities, and the land nearby has suitable terrain without significant environmental constraints, with a good mix of meadow and woodland landscapes. The NCTM offers opportunities for partnerships to co-host disc golf events and tournaments.

Was there outreach to the community?

During spring and summer 2023, park planners conducted outreach and community engagement for the project, culminating with a community meeting at the National Capital Trolley Museum on June 20th. More than 50 residents and stakeholders attended. A recording of the staff presentation can be found below. Announcements for this meeting included posts on NextDoor, Parks Department social media announcements and a press release.

Following the community meeting, an open town hall page went live allowing for residents and stakeholders to comment on the proposed project and complete a brief survey. The survey remained open through the end of August 2023. Response was overwhelmingly positive, particularly about the potential to further activate the undeveloped areas of the park and the potential to bring more visitors to the museum. Most concerns were related to traffic and parking as well as impacts to natural resources. Full survey results are in the table below.

What is the project’s relationship with the National Capital Trolley Museum?

The disc golf course will be designed around, and complement, the NCTM. The existing parking lot will be available to disc golfers, but the building will remain for museum activities only. The course will be at least 100’ from the trolley tracks, to minimize stray discs from landing on them or striking trolley cars.

Staff and Board members from the NCTM have been involved from the project’s inception and are excited about the project, and the additional number of visitors to the park and to the NCTM.

What is the scope of the disc golf course project?

M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks aims for this disc golf course to be suitable for all ages, genders, and abilities.  It will be a multi-generational facility that offers fun for families but also can host local and regional disc golf tournaments.

In addition to the disc golf course, this project will add overflow parking, bathrooms or locations for port-a-johns and a picnic shelter.  The course will include fully accessible elements for people with physical disabilities to also enjoy the game.

Disc golf is generally a very quiet sport.  The course will be a comfortable distance from backyards adjacent to the park.  But other than the NCTM, this park has not seen many visitors, so there will be an adjustment period for neighbors seeing people in the park.  Because the disc golf course will bring additional visitors to the park, there may also be increased traffic.   The course will not have lights and will be open only during daylight hours.

Project Calendar and Meeting Notes

Spring/Summer 2023

Seek community and stakeholder input.

June 20, 2023

Community meeting at National Capital Trolley Museum.

Summer 2023 – Fall 2024

Course Layout and Design.

Fall 2024 – Spring 2025*

Complete Site Improvements and Engineering. Construct the Course.

Spring 2025*

Opening Date TBD

*Dates and times are subject to change. Please contact the Project Manager for the latest update.

Last Updated: April 8, 2024