HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT DISC?
Ever stood in a disc golf store or scrolled one online, facing shelves filled with discs in various colors and plastics, each displaying four numbers? You've seen these numbers, perhaps with a rough understanding, but not entirely sure. How do you recognize the disc you need? To simplify the selection process, let's dive into the world of numbers.
Disc golf discs fall into three main groups based on their use: putters, midrange discs, and drivers. The primary classification depends on the first of four flight characteristics, representing speed. Discs with speeds 1-3 are putters, 4-5 are midrange, and 6-15 are drivers. The higher this number, the wider the edge and sharper the rim.
Putters (Short-Range Discs):
Putters are primarily used for putting or approaches, requiring a slow speed for better control. They're easily recognizable by their narrow rim and blunt edge. Consider the material based on your purpose - softer and more rubbery for putting, and firmer for approaches.
Midrange discs need a slightly faster throw than putters, flying farther while remaining easily controllable. Their edge is a bit wider and sharper, resembling putters more than drivers.
Drivers further categorize into fairway and distance drivers. Fairway drivers (speeds 6-10) balance distance and accuracy, with a predictable flight path preferred for technical throws. Distance drivers (speeds 11-15) aim for maximum distance, suitable for open courses with some sacrifice in accuracy.
Disc Parameters - The Four Important Numbers:
As discs lose their stability over time, the flight characteristics apply to new, unthrown discs. These depend on factors like material and purpose. Softer discs lose their original flight characteristics faster than firmer plastic.
Speed (1..5): Indicates the throw's strength needed for the corresponding flight. Ranges from 1 to 15, with higher speeds overcoming air resistance better but requiring a stronger throw.
Glide (1..7): Represents the disc's ability to stay in the air. Higher numbers mean greater glide, contributing to increased distance.
Turn (-5..1): Indicates the disc's tendency to turn during fligh. Higher absolute values result in more turn, making the disc understable or "flippier."
Fade (0..5): Shows how much the disc deviates from the throwing direction at the end of the flight. Smaller numbers indicate less deviation, while larger numbers mean a more pronounced fade.
Stable, Understable, and Overstable Discs:
When talking about the flight characteristics of discs, we talk about their stability - whether a disc is stable, understable, or overstable. The following examples are based on a right-handed player's backhand throw, where the disc is released parallel to the ground. In a right-handed backhand throw, the disc tends to fade to the left, towards the edge that spins in the same direction as the disc's flight. Simply put, a stable disc fades to the left at the end of the flight, an overstable disc starts fading left in the middle of the flight, and an understable disc 'flips' in the middle of the flight by turning right before fading left. Metaphorically, the flight path of a stable disc is curved, while the flight path of an understable disc forms an S-shape.
All of the above applies to discs whose speed matches the player's throwing speed. This means that if a disc is numerically overstable (8|5|0|2), but the player's throwing speed exceeds the numbers indicated on the disc, they may easily cause the disc to turn over or behave understably. The same is true in the opposite scenario. If a player, whose throwing speed corresponds to, for example, eight, chooses a disc that is numerically understable (11|4|-1|2), the disc may not actually turn over but rather fly straight, behaving like a stable disc. Therefore, it is recommended for beginners to initially choose discs that are somewhat understable.
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