One of the challenges that new disc golfer face is choosing the best disc for their skill level. It can be more challenging for beginners, since they don’t has as much experience or knowledge of discs. If you ask a group of experienced disc golfers about the discs they bought when they first started playing, you’ll find that many of them bought discs that were way out of their skill level. I was guilty of doing that. I thought a “High-Speed Driver” would fly faster for me than a fairway driver.
Understanding which discs will be the best for you and your skill level will help you progress faster, and will make disc golf a lot more fun for you. Let’s explore some guidelines you can use when shopping for discs.
The best way to know what discs you should be throwing is by learning what makes a disc fly the way it does. There are many factors that affect the flight of a disc. Let look at each of them, and see how they apply to a beginner disc golfer.
Let’s start with the flight numbers. Innova started using a flight rating system that is pretty much used by everyone at this point. It’s common to hear disc golfers talk about a discs ‘numbers’, which refers to its flight rating. To get a better understanding about the flight rating system, check out THIS BLOG. I’ll give you a brief overview about the rating, and how it applies to you.
The flight descriptions assume you are throwing with your right hand, and a backhand throw.
The first of the four flight numbers is its speed. Instead of thinking that the speed represents how fast the disc will fly, think of it as being how relatively fast you have to be able to throw the disc in order for it to fly correctly. You will need to generate more speed to throw a speed 12 disc than a speed 7 disc.
Most beginners don’t have the skill to throw discs very fast, so they should stick with speed 7 and slower discs to start out. I would even be a good idea to start with just a putter. Learn how to throw it consistently before you move to faster discs.
The second number is the glide of the discs, or how long it will stay in the air. As a beginner, you should look the highest glide available. As your skill improves, you’ll want utility discs that have less glide. But to start out, go for as much glide as you can get. Five or higher would be great.
The third number of the flight rating system is the ‘turn’ of the disc. The turn is how much the disc turns to the right during the fastest part of the flight. The more negative the number, the more turn the disc has. A disc with -4 turn will turn right more than a -2 disc.
Generally speaking, as a beginner you want a disc with a decent amount of turn, say -3. You want the disc to turn to the right a bit, but not too much. As your skill improve, you will find that a disc with -3 turn is turning too much, and you’ll have to get one with less turn.
The fourth number is the ‘fade’ of the disc, or how much it turns to the left when it slows down. The higher the number, the more fade it has. As a beginner, look for a disc with a fade of 1 or 2.
The weight of a disc has a huge impact on its flight, and your ability to throw it. You wouldn’t think 20 grams would make a big difference, but that is a huge amount in the disc golf world. Lighter discs help you generate more arm speed, since there is less mass to accelerate. Finding discs in the 150-160g range are great for beginners.
They type of plastic a disc is made of can affect the flight of the disc in two ways. First, the type of plastic affects how it flies through the air. Premium plastics have a more ‘overstable’ flight, meaning they don’t turn as much, and fade harder when they slow down. Base plastics don’t have that overstability, so they will fly farther than premium plastics INITIALLY.
I’ll explain more about that in a minute. The second way plastic types affect the flight is because of wear. New discs are more overstable than worn discs. As a disc gets more dings and dents, they become less overstable and more understable.
That process happens a lot faster with base plastics, and eventually the premium plastics will fly farther than base plastics, generally speaking. We refer to that process as breaking in or beating in a disc. It can take a while with premium plastics, but once it does it will give the disc a beautiful flight for a longer period of time than base plastics.
So, what plastic is best for beginners? Base plastics will give you better distance initially, and they cost less than premium plastics. The tradeoff is a shorter life. But, as your skills increase, so will your need for discs with different flights and weights, so you would likely be getting different discs anyway.
If you do decide to go premium, look for discs that are lighter and have a little more turn. If they still fly too overstable, you would be better off trying different discs, rather than picking up bad form habits because you’re trying to help the disc to get more distance.
Beginner sets are usually a great starting point. They usually include discs and plastic types that are geared for beginners. Use this guide to help you find the best beginner set for you.
Disc golf is a fun and satisfying sport! The more you learn about discs and their flights, the more you’ll be able to get the disc molds that will work for you and your skill level. Get huckin’!