You’re standing on the tee, nature surrounding you with all its splendor, the basket is a seemingly insurmountable distance away, and you are trying to determine which disc to choose as your driver. When choosing the right disc for disc golf, there are a number of factors that come into play. Just as there are with regular golf, conditions and obstacles play an important role in deciding what to use at any given time.
Ask any avid golfer whether they use the same disc every single time on the same hole and you’ll rarely find one who will say yes. The truth is that weather conditions can be just as important as skill level and tendencies as far as what the disc might do and whether the golfer wants to attempt a different style of shot for any number of reasons.
Think About the Weather
Weather is one of the most important factors that affect disc golfers. While you may think that the rain can be important, the wind can wreak havoc on every single one of your throws, or shots. The longer the distance you are trying to cover, the more effect wind and rain will have on your throws.
Even a mild breeze can affect your throw if it is covering a great distance. A three mile-per-hour wind, for example, could shape your 350-foot drive, pushing it ten or even fifteen feet off line from where you originally intended it to travel. If your landing area is twenty-five feet wide, then your margin of error becomes very thin.
The harder rain falls, the more impact it will have on the flight of your discs. Heavier rains will tend to push down on your discs more, causing you to have less distance on your throws. Light rain or drizzle, on the other hand, might not affect your distance too much, but you will notice that any curves or angles you attempt to create might be dramatically diminished as the disc loses its ability to carve an angle against the air through all of that moisture.
High humidity will also act on discs in much the same way that a light drizzle will. Dry, less humid conditions will tend to leave lighter discs more prone to being acted upon by even the slightest breeze.
You can discover a lot about how weather affects a disc by heading to the local driving range on different days. First, establish a decent throwing style and some consistency. Then you should try and see how the same shots you make there are impacted by different weather conditions. Many regular golfers hit the driving range consistently, but they rarely take into account how the weather is affecting their shots, thinking that they’re doing something wrong when in fact they are actually making the same strokes.
Hard vs. Soft Plastic Disc Golf Drivers
When it comes to disc golf, hard and soft plastics will have different impacts on your shots, and will also allow you to shape the shot differently. Hard discs tend to be heavier, which means that the breezes that are common on most days will affect them much less. It also means that they will be a little more forgiving when it comes to angling and trying to shape the shot around obstacles, such as trees. Putting discs are often made from harder plastics for durability as well as stability, which is crucial when you are attempting to finish the hole and place your shot into the chains of the basket.
Soft plastics don’t mean that the discs are flimsier; it merely means that they will be lighter. These discs can come in a full range of styles and distances. The longer the drive, with softer and lighter plastics, the more prone to errors the discs will be. If you make even the slightest mistake in your release, then that will be magnified by lighter, softer discs much more than if you chose a harder one.
Disc Golf Driver Weights
How much a disc weighs will also be an important factor when it comes to determining what will happen upon release. The lighter a disc is, as noted, the more wind and human error will affect it. Imagine throwing a very light driver as hard as you could down the fairway. Even if your throwing technique was perfect, it begins to head down the center of the fairway. But a breeze whips up 100 feet from you and the disc begins to be pushed to the left, toward the trees, or worse.
Lighter discs are ideal for conditions in which there is little wind and no rain. They can also be great to have when the wind is at your back for a hole or two, as that will give you an extra boost in your distance without pushing the disc to one side or the other.
Things to Keep in Mind in Disc Golf Driving
When you are standing on the tee getting ready to make your shot, consider the weather –wind, rain, etc.- and what you need to do with the shot. Also, be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you don’t have a great ability to shape the shot, such as hooking the disc around tress or a dogleg fairway, then don’t try and play over your head, so to speak. Keep grounded at all times.
This may mean that you will have to throw a shorter shot. That should be fine if it keeps you out of obstacles that can end up costing a lot more shots instead.
The weight and style of the disc you choose will depend on your preferences, but if you have never tried a large diameter, lightweight driver, then standing on the tee and trying it for the first time wouldn’t be the best idea. Keep within your comfort level and choose a heavier disc that won’t go as far if there is a strong wind or breeze to contend with.
The more you play, the more you will begin to understand your throwing style and what you can accomplish with the discs in your bag. In regular golf, it is said that Byron Nelson, one of the all time greats, stepped to the seventh tee at Pebble Beach, with the wind howling off the ocean, and used a putter to reach the short par 3. As you can see, there is no right or wrong choice, except when you end up in a hazard or way off line; then it was the wrong choice.
Image via kainr on flickr.