Disc Types Utilized Playing Disc Golf
Staring out at the field or wooded terrain you find yourself gazing at these yellow/black poles with chains hanging from the top of a waist high metal basket. There are anywhere from 9 to 18 baskets in the park where you walked your dog or hung-out with friends. Researching you learned a park district or school purchased a Disc Golf Course. This has peaked your interest and now you want to try this 4th fastest growing sport in the United States to understand why it's becoming so popular. The first question you ask is, what do I need to buy? Are there different types of discs I should be throwing?
There are various ways discs are classified, but here at Disc Golf Shopping we have four different disc types: Distance Drivers, Fairway Drivers, Mid-Range and Putt & Approach. Others might call them only Putters ,Controlled Drivers or Over-stable/Under-stable discs. All of these classifications also have merit, but here we will stick to these 4. The driving component placing them in each category is derived by the "Speed Rating" or the profile of each disc. Many manufacturers and bloggers have ratings for each disc: Speed, Glide, Fade and Turn, but we won't go into detail about those here.
Distance Drivers are the most popular selling disc type, probably because everyone loves going fast! Distance Drivers have a sharp airfoil allowing it to cut through wind with ease and have the largest potential distance going upwards of 400+ feet! The downside is they are unforgiving. If thrown at bad angles or with an improper amount of speed they will taper off or soar high in the air and might crash down at your feet. These disc types are commonly used by professionals and even intermediate players, but Distance Drivers are not recommended for beginners. They will most likely become frustrated not having achieved the proper form for this type of disc. The current world record is with an Innova Blizzard Boss thrown by David Wiggins Jr. marking 1104 feet!
Another common name for these disc types is Control Drivers. Some of the manufacturers throw their original distance drivers into this category to add additional new discs with improved technology allowing for higher speeds and distance. There are new disc designs however that are made and placed in these catagories since the driving factor is still the airfoil of the disc in question. Fairway Drivers have a sharp edge, but when compared to Distance Drivers, they have a "wider" look to them. This gives the disc more stability for an easier throwing experience and why beginners are highly recommended for these disc types. Due to the stability aspect, it also gives Fairway Drivers a straighter flight pattern.
Many professional Disc Golf players utilize these disc types to shoot off the tee. Did I just confuse you? With many holes being under 500 feet, professionals have the ability to throw Mid-Range discs extremely far. Sadly, many of us are not the Michael Jordan or Nate Sexton of Disc Golf and require a faster disc to accomplish 500 feet. This disc type has a "wider" edge and are not aero-dynamic. This prevents them from cutting through the wind easily as compared to Distance Drivers or Fairway Drivers. The wider edge however gives them extra stability and offers a very friendly straight throwing experience. An average Disc Golfer can utilize a Mid-Range and throw 200-300 feet of straight flight. Disc manufacturers mold these discs to offer excellent accuracy and control giving them a great gliding experience as well.
Putt & Approach
You are on the green, you pull your putter out of your bag, line the shot up and all you hear is chains or DOINK. Either you sank the putt giving yourself a birdie or nailed the top header on the basket. At this point you slowly walk up and drop your disc in. Hopefully utilizing a Putt & Approach disc the chains are what you hear! This disc type is used for the short game as it's got a very wide rim allowing more maximum stability and very straight flight with exception of some discs intentionally adding fade or turn. For many people this type of disc reminds them of a beach Frisbee, but smaller in diameter. Pretty self explanatory; it's utilized to putt at short ranges, but what....it says Approach no? Again, professionals with extreme power occasionally throw upwards of 300 feet with approach discs, but the average Disc Golfer will throw 100-150 feet. It's used for very short distances when you feel the Mid-Range will soar on you too far.
Hopefully you have understood how each type of disc is classified and why. Beginners should start their first Disc Golf adventure with 3 discs; 1 Putt & Approach, 1 Mid-Range & 1 Fairway Driver. An Intermediate or Advanced player would benefit from all 4 disc types and require more than one that has different fade & turn numbers. Disc Golf course designers place obstacles to increase the difficulty and give an enjoyable challenge for players, just like a sand trap does for ball golf. Get outside in the nature, bring yourself some discs to the park and learn why Disc Golf is the 4th fastest growing sport in America!
New To Disc Golf?
There are many suppliers of disc golf discs with different ratings giving customers ideas of how the discs fly. Most brands use 4 main criteria when trying to understand which disc to utilize.
- Speed - (Does not mean farther)
- Glide - (Flying thru the air)
- Turn - (While disc is going fast)
- Fade - (When disc slows down)
Speed is the rate at which a disc can travel through the air. Speed 14 Drivers are the fastest, having the PDGA maximum legal wing width. Faster discs cut into the wind with less effort and are best when throwing up wind. Slower discs take more power to throw upwind, but they’re easier to throw more accurately and may actually go farther downwind. High speed discs are not recommended for beginners as they require more power to fly properly.
Glide describes the discs ability to maintain loft during flight. Discs with more glide are best for new players, and for producing maximum distance. Beginners wanting farther drives should choose discs with more glide. Discs with less glide are more accurate in high wind situations.
High Speed Turn is the tendency of a disc to turn over or bank to the right (for RHBH throws) during the initial part of the flight. A disc with a +1 rating is most resistant to turning over, while a -5 rating will turn the most. Discs rated -3 to -5 make good roller discs. Discs with less turn are more accurate in the wind. Discs with more turn are easier to throw for beginners.
Low Speed Fade is the discs tendency to hook left (for RHBH throws) at the end of the flight. Fade is rated from 0 to 5. A disc rated 0 will finish straightest, while a disc rated 5 will hook hard at the end of the flight. High fade discs are usually used for Spike and Skip shots.
We strongly recommend starting with a Putt & Approach, Mid-Range & Fairway Driver discs to start off playing Disc Golf. The popular brands currently are Innova, Dynamic Discs, Westside Discs, Latitude 64, Discraft & MVP. You can check our page Disc Types to understand in greater detail how these for disc categories react in the field. Ensure you are throwing to your highest potential by educating yourself in great detail before randomly purchasing a "high speed disc."