I remember the first time I went to a disc golf shop and the overwhelming feeling I had trying to pick out a new disc. There were just too many discs and disc types for me to understand!
The four different categories of disc golf discs are distance drivers, fairway drivers, midranges, and putters. Although most disc types can be swapped out and thrown, each disc is designed for specific shots and situations.
Here’s my overview of the different discs and their main uses!
Types of Disc Golf Discs
Having a variety of discs in your bag will keep you prepared and ready for any shot type that you might face on the course. But, that doesn’t mean that you need to carry 30 different discs to play well and get good scores.
Here are the four major categories of discs and a helpful guide on when to throw each one.
Starting with the distance drivers, these are the discs that are usually thrown from the teepad of a disc golf hole. When you’re looking to throw for as much distance as you can, the maximum distance driver is the right choice.
All distance drivers have high speed numbers between 10 and 14 and require a lot of power to get the full flight of the disc. They are usually flat on the top of the disc and have wider rims that allow the plastic edge to cut through the air and continue to fly and glide.
It can be difficult for newer disc golfers to throw distance drivers until they build up their arm speed and disc control.
Some disc golfers call fairway drivers control drivers since that’s their main benefit and advantage over drivers. Fairway drivers are very similar to distance drivers, but they have smaller rims and less speed on their flight characteristics.
You won’t be able to reach the same distance when using a fairway driver, but you’ll have much more control over the disc. Anytime I have a small gap or tunnel that I need to get through, I’m always looking to take out one of my control discs.
Since fairways have slower speeds they’re also a good choice for new players who can’t throw distance drivers hard enough. They have less glide than distance drivers but still enough to carry far and go the maximum distance.
The shape of midrange discs is much more round on the top and has a larger rim width compared to the group of drivers. Having rounded edges helps the disc stay in control and land flat, but it does make it slow down much quicker during the flight.
Out of any disc type, I use a midrange disc the most since I love the accuracy and variety of shots that I can pull off with it.
If there’s any specific shot that a midrange is useful for it has to be throwing through the tight woods or a simple open field approach shot.
The main use of putters is less about being thrown for drives and more about sinking putts. The speed and plastic on these discs are designed to reach the basket and stay in the chains.
They can be used for approach shots or even from the teepad if you want more control and can reach the pin with a slower disc.
I find that a disc golf putter is the most important and difficult out of any disc type to choose. Finding a comfortable putter is the key to consistent putts and low scores.
Even though these discs don’t have a category, I thought it would be important to talk about them. For me, a specialty disc is one that you carry around for one specific throw and that’s all.
I have an older fairway driver that I only use for throwing thumbers in the woods and nothing else. It technically falls under the fairway/control driver category, but it has a separate purpose than the other fairway discs.
Not too many disc golfers have discs for one disc golf throw, but it’s something to consider if you have extra room in your bag.
Differences Between The Disc Types
When comparing discs, the three main differences are flight numbers, rim width, and weight. Combining all of the components above can help you decide on which disc you should throw.
Even though the flight numbers aren’t exact, they give you a good idea of how far the disc will travel. If you have a lot of arm speed, then a 10 speed driver should fly further than a 5 speed midrange.
The depth of the rim has a big impact on the comfort and control of the disc. Midranges and putters have a deeper pocket, which increases their control but lowers the speed at which they can be thrown. Those discs will also be affected more by the wind since they can’t cut through with a sharp rim.
Each disc group has PDGA standards set on what weight options it can have. Putters can weigh between 150 and 175 grams, while midranges and drivers can weigh from 150 to 180 grams.
Certain plastic types from manufacturers are more common on certain discs. For example, most putters are built with the cheaper plastic option since they aren’t thrown at full speed as often.
When Should You Throw Each Disc?
Choosing the right disc for your situation is important for improving and getting lower scores. I didn’t use midranges when I first began playing, so I was at a huge disadvantage on my approach shots compared to everyone else.
|Distance Driver||A speed rating of 10 or greater
Maximum distance ability
|Throwing from the tee
|Fairway Driver||Smaller rims
More overall control
|Shots from the fairway
Almost full-flight throws
Navigating narrow tunnels
Less overall spin
|Touch shots to the basket
Putting from inside the circle
Of course, it’s a little more complicated once we start talking about stability and weights. But, a quick guide is that the higher the speed of the disc, the more distance a player can get with it.
The one main thing to remember is that it’s important to use an actual putter when you’re attempting to putt throughout the round. Putters can be thrown for normal shots, with some players even throwing them from the tee. It’s important to carry a putter because they’re designed to be slower and have a higher chance of staying in the chains and basket.
How Many Discs Do You Need to Play?
Disc golf can be played with even a single disc, but it’s recommended to at least carry a driver, midrange, and putter. Most players prefer to have multiple options for each disc type, but it’s not needed for less experienced disc golfers.
As you start to add more discs to your bag, finding a control driver and consistent midrange would be the best plan for improving your skills.
Once players start understanding the game more, they’ll usually expand out and buy different stabilities for their discs. Having both an understable and overstable driver will make it easier to throw certain lines while playing.
If you want to be surprised even more, think about how professional disc golfers will sometimes carry two or three of the same disc and plastic mold. It might seem like overkill to carry copies of the same disc, but there can be little difference like comfort and stability which will change over the lifespan of a disc.
One of my favorite parts of disc golf is how many different discs and combinations are available. The four main types each have their unique characteristics and are useful in different scenarios on the course.
Once you have a clear understanding of each option, you’ll find yourself trying new discs and plastic types in no time!
Read about my favorite products here and find out which gear I use on the course!