Discs come in a variety of weights and aerodynamic designs. Each style of disc is designer for a specific purpose. It can benefit a player’s game to understand why discs behave as they do and how to select the perfect disc for the weather and their throwing technique.
The weight of your disc golf disc will affect how far your disc flies, the fade you get and how susceptible it is to the weather conditions. Generally lighter discs will travel further as you can throw then faster, newer players will often find the lighter weight discs harder to use as they are more sensitive to the angle of attack and wind.
In this article I’m going to explore some of they key areas to consider when deciding what disc to throw with and clear up a few common misconceptions about disc weight as we go.
Legal disc golf weights
Picking discs for the course or weather you’re playing in can give you an advantage over your fellow competitors. To try and stop discs which aren’t in the spirit of the sport and abuse the rules of the sport the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) has laid down some standard rules for discs.
You can read the rules for yourself here, but I’m going to outline the key clauses you should be aware of:
- The disc must not be less than 21cm (8.27inches) in outside diameter
- The disc must not exceed 30cm (11.81inches) in outside diameter
- The disc must not exceed a maximum weight of 200g (7oz)
Whilst the rules allow for discs to go up to 200g in weight, there aren’t many discs out there that actually get to this weight. Most discs lay in the following brackets:
150 class – These are the lightest discs you’ll find on the market and are any discs up to 159 games.
Putters – Putters are usually in the region of 170-175grams. Typically heavier discs are favoured for putting as they are less effected by the wind, and therefore more accurate.
Mid-range – Mid ranges cover the full spectrum of disc weights and you’ll see people throwing 150 class mid ranges right up to 180grams. Players who struggle for distance will typically go for lighter discs to maximise their range whereas naturally stronger players often go for slightly heavier discs to try and maximise the control they have over their discs, especially in windy weather.
Drivers – Drivers are your long range discs, as such they are generally lighter, usually topping out at 175 grams with most players throwing something closer to the 165-169 gram range depending on the weather.
What weight discs do pros use?
Many people assume that the pros use different discs to the rest of us, or that somehow their equipment is better. The truth is that most pro players use discs on the open market.
Sure, they often have brand deals and get customized discs, but they are bound by the same PDGA rules that the rest of us are, and as such their discs will generally be in the ranges already discussed.
The only real difference you’ll often notice is that pros are often naturally strong with a good throwing arm, therefore they can often get away with using slightly heavier discs to get the same distance, which gives them the benefit of the stability whilst still achieving good the distance they need on a long par 4!
Do heavier disc fly farther?
Many folks claim that heavier discs fly further because they feel solid in their hands, seems sensible?
This is actually a common myth in disc golf. I’ve explored the mechanics of disc golf weight in this article, but generally speaking the heavier a disc is, the shorter the range you’ll achieve with it.
You generally get a shorter range with heavier discs because the distance you can achieve with a disc is directly related to the speed at which you can throw the disc, so without getting suddenly stronger in your throwing arm, your next best bet is to use a lighter disc!
Having said that, a good disc golf player adapts to the conditions. Plastic discs are easily affected by the wind, if you find yourself in windy conditions, with a strong crosswind or head wind, you should consider picking a heavier disc from your bag. Otherwise you may end up making the same mistake as me and having to look for your disc in a tree later!
How do I know if my disc is overstable or understable?
If you’ve been around disc golf players long enough, you’ve probably heard someone passing judgement on another players disc
“I wouldn’t throw that – it’s so understable!”
Lets start by looking at overstable discs, this is what most new players are typically familiar with as a lot of the discs they may have used for other recreational activities tend to sway to the overstable end of the spectrum.
You can identify an overstable disc when you’ve throw it if it fades away at the end of it’s flight against the spin on the disc.
For example, if I’m a right handed player and I throw back hand, as I watch the disc fly away from me it will be spinning clockwise.
Towards the end of the disc’s flight, an overstable disc will fade to the left.
An understable disc does the opposite, a right handed backhand throw will fade with the direction of spin and fade to the right.
I’ve not mentioned it do far but a stable disc will fade neither direction, they tend to remain straight on their path.
When should you throw an understable disc?
So why would you throw an understable or overstable disc when you could just throw a stable disc?
Every disc has its place in your bag and an understable or overstable disc is no different.
If you’ve just started playing disc golf you are probably more concerned with improving your distance and keeping control of your disc. But a straight disc can cause you problems on some courses.
If the hole you’re playing on is curved and you know what distance you can throw, you can arrange it so that your throw nicely fades as the hole turns, lining you up for the perfect approach shot. You can also you user discs to bend around tree or other mandos you might find on a course to set yourself up for the perfect next throw.
I hope you’ve found this useful and learnt a few things about disc weight, stability and how you can use it to your advantage when playing disc golf. Happy throwing!