“Right disc, right shot” is a slogan that we constantly use as disc golf tip for beginners. While this slogan seems rather obvious — learning the flight patterns, weights and plastics of each disc is an easy way to shave strokes off your game. “Right disc, right shot” was adapted from our time in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning field where “right plant, right location” was a common focus when working with planting schemes. If you put a shade tolerant plant in a sunny location, it will die. If you put a salt tolerant plant next to a roadway, it will thrive its entire life. This phrase was easily adapted to disc golf when trying to help beginners, as many players just grab their favorite disc and throw it on every shot. While a familiar disc is great for learning early on, it can be a big setback if you continue to throw it on the wrong shots.
When throwing and evolving in the sport, there are only so many factors you can know about your disc. While course designs vary and course conditions fluctuate, disc golf disc information remains stagnant for the most part. Information players should know about each disc include: flight pattern, type of plastic and weight. Weight and type of plastic do help on a situationall sense (i.e. if it’s raining, if it’s windy), but the need to know the flight pattern of each disc is absolutely critical in your success and enjoyment of the game.
For the most part, we all know that discs are broken down into three makes: drivers, mid-ranges and putters. Each make — at least for Innova Discs — have roughly 20-30 models. For example: Innova Discs has drivers that range from distance drivers for big arms like the Ape, and fairway drivers for beginners like the Leopard. These are both great examples because of not only their variation in distance, but their flight pattern as well. The Ape is an overstable disc (which means it breaks to the left for RHBH players), while the Leopard is understable (meaning it turns over to the right for RHBH players). This information alone is great to know because each disc would be chosen for a different reason.
As an example of these two discs “Right disc, right shot” here would help players select the appropriate disc for a given shot. If the hole was a 300’, tightly wooded dogleg right, par 3 choosing the Ape as your disc golf choice would be the wrong selection. The disc is meant for big field bomber opportunities; and especially not holes that break to the right as Apes (for RHBH players) go a little right off the bat and then eventually break hard left — the opposite direction of the basket in this scenario. An understable mid-range would be a smart choice on this shot hole — something like a Stingray — as the disc breaks to the right and sits soft, while having a “dull” enough edge that if it nicks a tree off the fairway, it won’t deflect off the tree like missile, going deeper into the woods and further into trouble. Mid-ranges in the woods are great choices can they are easier to control, especially when you miss you line.
That being said, REALLY knowing your discs will help you as drivers aren’t only used on big field bombers off the tee. Let’s imagine that you are on the left side of the fairway of a tightly wooded hole that has a severe dogleg left to a pin that is tucked as far back as possible. While you may only be 125’ from the basket, your best bet in this scenario is neither a putter nor a mid-range; it would be a driver. Both mid-ranges and putters are straighter flyers and sit soft when they land. In this scenario, you want to “let the disc do the work” by using the “right disc, right shot” mentality. For a RHBH player, smoking an overstable driver at the middle of the fairway will see the disc break hard left around the dogleg and skip out (hopefully straight) all the way to the tucked basket. If you chose a mid range, it would bend around the dogleg, but sit soft and not have the distance to get all the way back. If you threw a putter, it would barely turn the dogleg and sit like mud. So choosing a driver in this scenario — where you may typically be able to throw it 400’ — would be the perfect choice as the ability of the disc to break hard left at slow speeds (it’s natural flight characteristic) and skip out (for increased distance) would help you traverse this bit of trouble with ease.
In the following weeks, we will get into more detail about choosing the correct weights and plastics in situational conditions. For now, we hope this article helps motivates you to do a bit more research on the discs in your bag and encourages you to use the “right disc, right shot” mentality to shave a couple more strokes off your game!