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As with learning to play any new sport, taking up disc golf involves a lot of research and preparation to ensure you know how to play and that you know what kind of equipment to gather.
If you have done your research on the rules and found some friends or a local group to play with, your next question may be what discs do I need for disc golf?
In this article we will take an in-depth look at the different types of golf discs, how to choose one, and how many you should carry with you to be best prepared for a game.
Types of discs for disc golf
The most important thing to understand is the types of golf discs and what each one is used for.
There are four main types of discs that you will use in disc golf.
Distance drivers have the potential to fly the farthest, reaching distances of 400 feet or more when thrown with proper force and technique.
A driver is typically used for the first throw off the tee and will be the longest throw of the game.
Because they are designed for distance and speed, these discs have a thick rim and a more aerodynamic shape.
Distance drivers are a valuable asset to a game, but they can also be difficult to control for beginners who do not yet have good technique or power behind their throw.
Fairway drivers, also known as control drivers, are used for shorter drives and tighter lines.
They have thinner rims than distance drivers and are more stable.
They are easier to control because they do not have the same speed capability as distance drivers and they are not built to go quite as far.
Fairway drivers are great discs for beginners who do not yet have the skill to control a distance driver, for they can deliver similar distance while offering more control and accuracy.
Midrange discs do not fly nearly as far as the previously mentioned discs but are designed for control and accuracy.
This disc is typically used for the middle shots after the long throw but before you are close enough to the basket to use a putter.
Midranges have smaller, more rounded rims, making them less aerodynamic but more comfortable to hold.
These discs are not built for speed, but typically glide well for added distance.
Advanced players will find midrange discs to be versatile as they can be used in a variety of situations, from drives to approaches.
Beginners will find midranges easy to learn with because they fly straighter, do not veer off much from their intended flight path, and are much easier to control.
Putters are the slowest of the discs. They are used in the final shot to get your disc into the basket; they can also be used for approach shots where you are getting your disc close enough to the basket to line up an easy putt.
Putters have the deepest inner rim and are not very aerodynamic.
As a result, they do not fly far, which is ideal just in case you overshoot the basket.
Because they are slow and do not fly far, putters typically fly straight and are easiest to control without much fade at the end of the flight path.
As you can see, all four types of discs are valuable to the game because they help with different types of shots.
Flight characteristics of disc golf discs
Now that we understand the different types of discs, another important consideration when choosing your discs is the flight characteristics.
There are four main flight characteristics that each disc will be rated on: speed, glide, turn, and fade.
Speed and glide refer to the forward movement of a disc’s flight, and turn and fade refer to the side-to-side movement.
Speed is simply the rate that a disc can fly through the air. Speed is rated on a 1 to 14 scale with distance drivers being the fastest (10-14), fairway drivers being slightly slower (7-9), midranges being in the middle (4-6), and putters being the slowest (1-3).
Faster discs cut through the wind more easily.
Slower discs take a more forceful throw to cut through the wind, but they tend to be easier to control and throw more accurately.
Speed is also an indicator of distance potential if the disc is thrown with enough power.
If there is not much power behind a throw, however, the disc will not meet its maximum distance potential even if it has a high speed rating.
Glide is a disc’s ability to stay in the air, and it is measured on a 1 to7 scale.
A disc with high glide is ideal when throwing for distance, whereas a disc with low glide would be better for approaches and putts because you do not want the disc to overshoot the basket.
A disc with a higher glide is good for beginners because the disc will be able to glide a further distance even if the player has not yet developed much power behind their throw.
Discs with less guide are going to be more accurate in windy conditions.
When a disc is thrown by a right hand backhand thrower, turn refers to the disc’s tendency to curve to the right during the early part of the flight before fading to the left at the end of the flight.
Discs are rated on a +1 to -5 scale.
A disc with +1 or 0 turn is very resistant to curving right during the initial part of its flight path.
A disc with -2 turn will gently fade to the right, and a disc with a -5 turn will turn the most to the right.
Discs that have less turn hold up better against the wind.
Discs that have more turn are easier for beginners to throw.
When a disc is thrown by a right hand backhand thrower, fade refers to the disc’s tendency to curve to the left at the end of the flight.
Fade is rated on a 0 to 5 scale, and the rating describes how sharply the disc will turn left at the end.
A disc with a fade rating of 0 would fly the straightest, whereas a disc with a rating of 5 would take a sharp hook left at the end.
Looking at the turn and fade rating will give you a good indication of how straight a disc will fly.
They do not, however, cancel each other out since they refer to the curve at different portions of the flight.
For example, a disc with a -3 turn and a 3 fade would not cancel each other out to be a straight flight; instead, the flight path would look more like an “s” shape because the disc would curve right in the beginning of the flight and curve left at the end.
A disc with 0 turn and 0 fade is most likely to fly straight.
What discs do I need for disc golf?
With all of this information, you can now start to build your disc golf bag.
If you are a beginner, it is okay to start with just one disc as you get used to throwing.
If you are looking for one specific type of disc to start with, a midrange disc will be your best option because they are more versatile and are easier to control while still flying a decent distance.
As you get into the game, however, you are going to want to get at least one of each type of disc.
Having the four different disc types will not only allow you to get a more well-rounded practice, but it will also ensure that you have the correct disc for any situation.
Many disc golf players choose to carry even more than these four, though.
In general, it is beneficial to carry at least two of each type just in case.
If you were to lose a disc during a game or if one was to crack from a hard impact, you would have a backup disc that you already feel comfortable throwing.
Additionally, you may also choose to carry more discs that have different flight characteristics.
For example, you can have several different midrange discs that have different turn or fade ratings or two drivers that have different speed ratings.
Having a variety of options is advantageous because you will be prepared for a variety of different situations.
For instance, you may choose to go with your faster driver because it is a particularly windy day.
Or you may select your fairway driver that turns more to the right because of the angle you are at in relation to the basket.
Having an assortment of discs at the ready will help you play your best because you will have all of the tools you need available to you.
If you would like to learn more about building your golf disc bag, you can view this video below.
Ultimately, as you get more into the game, you will pick up your own techniques and be able to choose discs with ratings that will be the most beneficial for your throwing style.
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