This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now.
Every time I go to a disc golf course I see the same things happening over and over again, new players coming to the course with discs that just don’t fit the game of someone learning to throw. I know it. I did it. I was in the same situation as most of these folks, where I had a friend introduce me to the game and then we went to Play It Again Sports and picked out some discs. With so many options we consulted the always-confusing Innova rating chart.
Who doesn’t remember this beauty? For a noob, this means absolutely nothing. What is turn? What is fade? Speed? I like speed, MOAR SPEED!
Joe’s Universal flight chart is the other one that was so often referenced and equally confusing. I remember standing there in the store looking at these charts and having no idea what I was supposed to choose. My buddy, who wasn’t a disc golf savant but did know the game said “here get this one, it is faster and goes farther.” The disc he handed me was an Innova Boss in Champion Plastic, speed 13.
Little did I know that I was setting myself up for failure and taking the absolute hardest route possible to becoming a better disc golfer because the speed is not the speed of the disc, speed ratings are the speed at which you need to throw the disc to get it to curve as it was designed to. So in my case, the Boss at speed 13 had to be thrown really really fast to perform as it was supposed to.
Me being a noob, tried to throw it and only got about 100 feet and a hard left dive. Over and over again.
This is the same thing I see from so many new players as well. You’re just setting yourself for failure, just like I did. I ended up playing my first year or so throwing mostly sidearm until I made an effort to learn backhand and understand what I was doing.
The ideal discs for starts are low-speed putters or mid-range discs.
Most people will read that and immediately think, “but I want to throw it far! I can’t throw it far with a putter!” That’s just not true and if you spend some time watching pro tournaments you’ll start to see how often they throw putters and mid-ranges and how little they throw high-speed discs.
Here’s another way to think about it, for those of you who play traditional golf, how often do you hit your driver or 3-wood? Probably about 14 times out of 80+ shots. Disc golf is no different.
The eye-opening moment for me was playing a round with a local pro and friend of mine. I have a bag full of high-speed discs, a Roc and a putter. I look into his bag and he’s got 17 different putters, 8 mids and 4 high-speed discs. When I asked him about it he said simply “putters go straighter.”
He wasn’t being snarky, he was serious. It takes a lot less effort to toss a putter and keep it on a line than it does any of your speed discs. I dont know why but this was a huge revelation and especially true in North Carolina where a lot of the courses are tight/wooded courses with only a few open holes.
My mind was blown.
I can throw it 450+ but how often did I need to do that? Not very often it turns out.
I had a similar revelation in golf but that was because I’m getting older and more things hurt more often. How often did I need a 300+ yard drive? Do I need to hit it as close to the hole as possible or can I hit a 270yd 3-wood and still have a pitching wedge in? I played some of my best golf the season after that philosophical change.
Back to disc golf. After that round with my pro-friend, I slowly started to take a different approach, I dumped everything out of my bag and started to evaluate what I carry and a few years removed from that moment my bag has slimmed down even more.
Here’s what I’d recommend for the beginners
Best Single Disc for Your First Round
If you’re planning on playing a round for the first time and need a disc, you should get a Discraft Buzz (~$12 on Amazon)
The Buzz is one of the most popular discs on the market for a reason. They fly far, stay straight and are so versatile it may never leave your bag. I can throw my Buzz between 275 – 325 feet and just about keep it on a dead straight line. It is without a doubt the most used disc I carry and has been for years.
Best 3 Disc Starter Set
So you’ve gotten a little more into disc golf or you think you will enjoy it and want to get a few more options. Stay away from the 3 disc ‘starter set’ you’ll see in all the big box retail stores.
They are super basic which is fine but they don’t offer you much in terms of growth. The type of plastic they are made from, DX, is bottom-of-the-barrel and will not hold up to the abuse the average new player can do to a disc and you’ll quickly outgrow them. Instead make a 3-pack of your own by picking one from each of the following categories.
*Edit* As I was writing this article I stumbled upon MVP’s starter set. If you wanted to get one, this is the one I would go for as it contains 3-excellent discs.
MVP Anode (Available on Amazon) – I’m a big fan of MVP discs especially their putters. They feel good in the hand and they stand the test of time. I’ve been using the same few MVP putters for a lot of years now and they still fly true. The Anode, in particular, is a straight-flying putter that is perfect for all players but especially new players.
Dynamic Disc Judge (Soft) – Available on Amazon – The judge was one of the first putters I started using at the beginning of my disc-golf journy and I remember wondering why it went so far for a putter. Honestly, there was a time where I could throw it as far as my driver. Now that says more about where I was throwing my driver at the time (read the story above) but I could still get 280′ out of the Judge. I still carry one today and still carry the soft one. To me, they just feel better than most other ‘soft’ plastics and 100x better than the classic Aviars that most will recommend.
Discraft Buzz – See Above!
KC Pro Roc (Innova) – (See on Amazon) – The Roc is another classic that a lot of folks will recommend and for good reason. It is easy to throw, straight-flying mid-range and the mid-range disc of choice I used for the longest time before I tried the Buzz. I still carry my very first KC-Pro Roc with me but find myself using it less these days. My first ace was with a KC-PRO Roc. BTW, KC-Pro refers to the plastic, it is a step up from Innova’s DX plastic.
Other’s worth considering: MVP Vector, Dynamic Disc Truth & MVP Tangent
What I Carry?
I try and practice what I preach so here’s what is in my bag and I’d recommend any of these, although when I play lately I typically only carry 3 discs: MVP Ion (putter), Buzz (Mid), MVP Volt (Driver).
- MVP Ion – (Putter) Main Putter in proton plastic (link)
- Axiom Discs Envy – (Putter) Putter I use on longer shots and upshots
- Dynamic Disc Judge – (Putter) – Mid to Short driving putter
- MVP Ion – (Backup)
- Discraft Buzz – (Mid)
- KC Pro Roc – (Mid) use on long turning shots that I need to hold a line.
- Dynamic Discs Felon – Utility disc that is only used for specialty shots (link)
- MVP Volt – Most used driver for a variety of shots proton plastic, Long and straight with a slight fade at the end.
- Innova Star Destroyer – Main driver, crank it hard and it consistently has a long solid S-shape
- Innova GStar Destroyer – Drive for long fading shots or into a hard wind.
Why You Should Trust Me
I’ve been there where you are, new player confused with too many options and too few trustworthy experienced voices to listen to. Learn from my mistakes. I’ve gone from beginner to high-level amateur and have made my fair share of mistake purchases but if you have any questions just hit up the chat and ask.