Ellison Park

The Ellison Park Disc Golf Course is located on the east side of Rochester N.Y. It is a championship-caliber hillside course featuring grassy fairways and tall trees. All types of elevation come into play, with uphill, sidehill and downhill fairways. Signature holes include hole #7 measuring 528 feet down a steep hill to the basket; the hole affords a spectacular view of the Irondequoit Creek Valley. The 590 foot hole #17 features a tricky fairway that slopes down to the right, leading errant shots to a row of trees bordered by an OB road.

Address: 200 N Landing Rd, Rochester, NY 14625

Course Maps

Winter Layout

Summer Layout

Google Map

Ellison Park was not the first disc golf course in Rochester, but it has become the most enduring. As sites like St. John Fisher College and Genesee Valley Park have faded from use, Ellison remains a foundational home of Rochester disc golf. First used as a temporary site in the mid-1970s and again in the mid-1980s, it became permanent beginning in 1989. Ellison remains one of the most played courses in the greater Rochester area. It now hosts tens of thousands of rounds a year. The open park style, extreme elevation changes and accessibility make it a stand out course.

Jim Palmeri saw the potential in Ellison Park just a few years after he and his local crew started playing disc golf. He layed out the first temporary course there in the spring of 1975 using 2’ x 2’ cardboard boxes as targets. The Rochester Frisbee Club (RFC) shifted their weekly summer tournament series from St. John Fisher College to Ellison that year. The temporary course that they set up each week occupied the same general area as is used for today’s permanent course in the Brighton portion of Ellison off of North Landing Road. The site was used for the club’s series through 1977, and also hosted 18 of the 36 holes set up for the 1976 and 1977 American Flying Disc Open (AFDO) events which were part of the Wham-O North American Series.

Due to budget considerations, the Monroe County Parks department decided to close down the Landing Road portion of Ellison Park at the end of the 1977 summer. They stopped grass cutting and all other upkeep in that area. The grass grew to waist deep height and rendered the area useless for disc golf.

In 1984, the Rochester Frisbee Club was chosen to host the PDGA World Championships. The club convinced the Monroe County Parks Department that the Landing Road portion of Ellison Park would be a perfect venue for the event. The parks department spent all summer cutting and grooming the area in preparation for the tournament. The RFC, led by Palmeri, designed a 36-hole disc golf site, separated into two distinct courses. The first course was based on the design first used at Ellison park in 1975, and the second course was shoe-horned in-between and around the perimeter of the original course. Sam Ferrans, winner and still the youngest PDGA World Champion ever, described the Ellison course as “one of the finest and most challenging disc golf courses I have ever played.” The groomed park did not go unnoticed by local residents, either, who petitioned for continued maintenance.

With this new door open, Jim Palmeri, Jamie Moldt and Royce Racinowksi redesigned the course layout in anticipation of using it for the 1986 American Flying Disc Open, as well as for the effort they were making to get the course installed as a permanent facility. Three years later in 1989, with sponsorships from local players and help from national disc golf organizations, the dream of a permanent course finally became reality when the shipment of 18 DGA Mach III baskets (those we still use today) were put in the ground. Shortly after its permanent installation renowned tournament director and course designer, John Houck said, “Ellison Park is the prettiest permanent disc golf course I’ve ever played. I can’t wait to go back.” In Scott Stokely’s Growing Up Disc Golf, he describes how stories of a 650 foot hole (an anomaly even in the early ‘90s) had reached southern California. Ellison was ahead of its time in some ways. It could go without saying, but was clearly well respected in the greater disc golf community.

In preparation for the 1999 PDGA Pro World Championships, the 1989 layout underwent a partial redesign led by Doug Corea with assistance from Bob Nelson. Much of the 1999 redesign is still played as it was then including current holes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 (although with different numbers in some cases).

Primarily due to increased use of the arboretum area by park pedestrians and for various photo shoot sessions, 2014 saw some modifications designed by Jamie Moldt put in place by GRDGC club members and the Monroe County Parks Department. More recently, in winter 2021, Tim Bayer and GRDGC president Dave Copp led an effort to layout a winter 9 utilizing some existing and some new tees and baskets that allows for year round play while avoiding the busy sledding areas that have historically caused the parks department to remove all 18 baskets each winter.

Starting with its roots from the early Rochester Frisbee Club, Ellison has seen its significant share of disc golf history. The 1984 World Championships was won by the youngest ever champion, 16-year-old Sam Ferrans. “Ellison Park Disc Golf Course is the site of some of the most significant moments in disc golf history. Sam Ferrans’ great tee shot on hole seven [now hole 12] at the 1984 PDGA World Championships is one of the all-time great shots in disc golf.”, as described by PDGA #3 and AFDO 1 Champion Dan “Stork” Roddick. It is also said that, following that tournament, Ed Headrick made the decision to place the PDGA in the player’s hands while sitting in the Landing Road parking lot. At the 1999 Pro Worlds, Ken Climo’s streak of 9 consecutive world championships notoriously came to an end at the hands of Ron Russell, who earned his only title by beating out Climo, Barry Schultz and Scott Stokely. Ellison was again on the national stage in 2011 when Rochester played host to the PDGA Amateur World Championship in which our own Melynda Apton took home the Advanced Women’s crown.

Each Spring, with anticipation, the Rochester disc golf community awaits the replacement of the baskets following the sledding months as an unofficial kickoff to the disc golf peak season. A fixture for over 30 years, the disc golf course at Ellison Park remains a welcoming challenge for newer players, an entertaining excursion for the advanced and a symbol of the long legacy left by one of the original and most influential disc golf communities in the world.

  • 18 Mach3 Baskets
  • Rubber Tee Pads
  • Course Length: 6,234 ft
  • 9 holes < 300 ft
  • 5 holes 300-400 ft
  • 4 holes > 400 ft

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