Just starting out in disc golf and have no idea what you’re doing but you want to learn to play? Well start right here. In this article I will try and break down what you need to know and how to get started in playing the game of disc golf. Let me just go ahead and say I am not professional disc golf player. I started playing right when I got out of college. I played all the time. My wife was and has always been a very good sport in joining me in this awesome game. It didn’t matter how much I tried, I could not get a disc in her hand, but that's okay. Overall, I've played on and off since about 2010. Okay enough about me, let’s talk about the circular shaped plastic you want to learn to throw.
Every disc golf disc has 4 numbers. Most of them have them right there on the disc. Now there are some discs that manufacturers don't post the numbers on their discs but that is okay. Those 4 numbers, for the most part, will tell you how that disc is going to fly. They are known as the flight numbers.
The 4 numbers can be broken down into 4 categories: Speed, Glide, Turn and Fade. Each of these categories can help describe the flight characteristics of every disc. Once you have feel more confident when throwing discs and what the numbers mean, you will have a more accurate picture of how the disc will fly before you throw it.
Speed - Speed is the first of the 4 numbers. It will range from 1-15. 1 being the slowest and 14 being the fastest. Discs with speeds 1-3 will be known as a putting disc. These discs will be your easiest throwers. Just because they are a putter does not mean you can only throw them in the basket. You can drive with them as well. These will be your straightest flying disc but also the discs that go the shortest distance. Discs with speeds 4-5 are going to be your midrange discs. These are a lot like putters but their shape is slightly more aerodynamic and they will fly further than putters. Speeds 6-14 are going to be your drivers. These discs a very aerodynamic and will go the furthest when thrown. Speeds 6-9 are known as fairway drivers. These discs will fly farther than a midrange but not as far as discs with speeds 10-14, which are known as distance drivers. Now, everyone wants the discs with the highest speeds because they think they will go the furthest. Yes, that is true BUT if you don't know how to throw them then you will be deeply disappointed when it doesn't fly the way you are expecting. The higher speed discs need more power in order for it to fly the way it is designed to fly.
I have always said that if you are just starting out in playing disc golf, DONT TOUCH ANYTHING THAT HAS A HIGHER SPEED OF 3! People do not like to hear that and most people will not go by that because they want a higher speed disc so it will go farther when they throw it myself included. When I first started out, the very first disc I bought was an Innova Champion Boss. I bought it because it was the world record holder for distance. So, I thought, well I might as well buy the disc that has the record in distance. I remember I threw it for the very first time and I was severely disappointed. Of course, I didn't expect to throw it super far just starting out, but I did expect it to go a bit further than it did. With all that to say, your first disc to buy is a putter. Buy a putter, if you like it then great, buy a couple more of that putter and get to know how to throw it. If you don't like the feel of that putter then try a different one. There are so many to choose from its overwhelming. Put with it, drive with it get use to the feel of it. Most of all, get comfortable with throwing it. Your putter needs to be the only disc to throw until you get the hang of throwing a disc. Get your form down. Look up some tips on YouTube on the best practices when throwing. Like I said before, a putter is the easiest disc to throw. Grab a disc that's a 1 or 2 speed such as a 1/2/0/1 or 2/2/0/1. Once you are comfortable grab a mid-range and a fairway driver but definitely not anything over a 9 speed.
Glide - Glide will range from 1-7. The higher the glide the more loft the disc will have in its flight. The lower the glide, the more power will be required from you to keep the disc in flight longer. You will see most fairway and distance drivers with higher glides because they are designed to stay in flight longer. Mids and putter will tend to have lower glides because of they are typically used for shorter distances.
Turn and Fade
The third and fourth numbers are turn and fade. This is where it can get complicated. Turn is measured from 1 to -5. 1 being the most resistant to turn and -5 being the most susceptible to turn. So, on a typical RHBH throw (right hand backhand), which is also a LHFH (left hand forehand), a disc with a 1 turn or a disc for example that is a 9|5|1|4 will resist turning over to the right the most. Instead, it will want to fade to the left almost immediately. So, a disc like Discmania Tilt (9|1|1|6), a Discraft Flick (12|3|1|5) or others that have a turn of 1 will not turn over. A disc with a -5 turn will have the least resistance when turning over to the right on a RHBH/LHFH throw. For lefties like me, it’s the exact opposite. We will throw a LHBH/RHFH so discs will do the opposite. In other words, a disc with a 1 turn and thrown left-handed with a back hand will resist turning to the left the most. A disc with a -5 turn and thrown LHBH will want to turn to the left the most. Discs with a higher turn (0 or 1) will work best when thrown into a headwind. If you are throwing with a tailwind, discs with a lower turn (-3 - -5) is more preferable.
Now let’s look at fade. Fade will range between 0-5. Fade is the end of flight. Fade is simply the opposite of turn. It defines whether the disc will go to the left on a RHBH/LHFH throw. If a disc has a fade of 0 or 1 then it will turn to the right the least. You will see most putters have a fade of 0 or 1 but not all. As the velocity decreases during flight fade will increase. Fade defines the stability of the disc. If a disc fades more than it turns then it is defined as OVERSTABLE. If it turns more than it fades then it is UNDERSTABLE. A STABLE disc will generally fly pretty straight.
Now there are much more terms and definitions we can talk about and I probably will add that to this article at some point but I think this is a good starting point for now. Any questions or comments reach out to us at email@example.com.
Now if you’ve bought a few discs and played a few times and have decided you want to be a more serious player and want to get better then there are some terms we need to talk about. But first here is a quick recap:
Flight Numbers Example: 12 | 5 | -1 | 3
First number is Speed – measure how far the discs is capable to travel
Second number is Glide – measures how long the disc will stay in the air
Third number is Turn – measures how resistant a disc is to turn over
Fourth number is Fade – measures how much will fade back from turning over
RHBH – Right Hand Back Hand
LHBH – Left Hand Back Hand
RHFH – Right Hand Forehand
LHFH – Left Hand Forehand
Stable – a explanation of a discs’ flight going left or right
Overstable – a disc’s flight that will fade more than it turns
Understable – a disc’s flight that will turn more than it fades
If you have been playing with some experienced disc golfers you may have heard a few other terms thrown around. Hyzer and Anhyzer. Hyzer and Anhyzer describe how you are holding the disc before you throw it. It is the angle of the disc upon release. Hyzer is when the disc a angled down and Anhyzer is when the disc is angled up and well, flat is flat. With these different angles, you can throw different shot shapes when necessary depending on the layout of the hole.
Let’s talk about shot shapes. A clockwise rotation is a RHBH or LHFH throw and a counter-clockwise rotation is a LHBH or a RHFH throw. Let me preface to say that when I say that a disc will fly to the left or right, I am referencing a RHBH or LHFH throw. If you are left-handed and throw mostly backhands like me, then it will be the opposite for you.
If you use an overstable disc such as an MVP Energy, Discraft Anax, Discmania Splice the disc will take a big fade to the left on a RHBH throw. We call these throws meat hooks or spike hyzers. The shot won’t go quite as far but very useful if you need to get around a tree or some other obstruction. The reason why it won’t go as far is because you are already releasing the disc on a hyzer angle, and because the disc has no turn it will immediately fade.
If you throw a stable disc such as a Lone Star Guadalupe, Mint Jackalope or a Streamline Lift it will hold that hyzer angle and stay straight until the velocity slows down then it will start to fade to the left. This is known as a hyzer-flip. The shot is great for max distance straight shots with a little fade at the end.
Now if you throw an understable disc such as an Axiom Vanish or Discraft Hades on a hyzer, the disc will flip up to flat after thrown and hold straight for most if not all of its flight. Not all understable discs will have the same flight. Some will hold straight through the entire flight and some may turnover and go to the right. This throw is also known as a hyzer flip shot, and its one of the most popular and easier shots to make on the course. It will depend on how much of a hyzer angle you put on the disc when thrown.
Using an overstable disc on a flat release will hold will hold that straight line for most of the flight then fade at the end. This shot is known as a straight hyzer shot.
A stable disc thrown with a flat release will give you the maximum distance shot. Since stable discs have more turn than an overstable disc, it may flex out during its flight (anhyzer) then fade back at the end.
An understable disc thrown flat will be a big anhyzer shot. It will maximize that turn and hold that angle through the entire flight and keep turning to the right.
An overstable disc thrown on an anhyzer release is known as an anhyzer flex shot. It will fly like an understable disc at first because of the anhyzer angle but because it has the most resistant to turn, it will fight out and flex back to the left. We call this a flex shot because the disc begins flying to the right then flex back to the left at the end of the flight.
A stable disc thrown on an anhyzer release will be a big anhyzer shot. It will hold the anhyzer angle for most of the flight and may land flat at the end. This shot is very similar to an understable disc thrown on a anhyzer angle.
An understable disc thrown on an anhyzer release will turn all the way over and roll. These shots can be very difficult to master. Depending on how understable the disc is will depend on how much of an anhyzer angle you need to release the disc on. This shot takes a lot of practice but anyone can do it. Generally, a roller shot will land almost vertically then stand up straight, roll, then finish to the right. This shot is best for a low ceiling shot where you need to keep the disc low.