Disc golf is a tough sport…especially when you’re brand new. But the only thing tougher than learning the sport is trying to figure out how to pick out your first discs when you barely know anything about disc golf. Yeah, I know. I was once where you are now and I had no clue about what kind of discs to get. There seemed to be SO many choices, colors, weights, types, and everything else in between. It was insanity. So I just grabbed a couple off the shelf. One in each type just to cover my bases.
That was a mistake. Three out of the four discs I chose weren’t for beginners. But I didn’t know that. I was just as happy as can be to go out and play with my advanced discs. No wonder I was so terrible in the beginning. But I got better because I practiced and found the right discs that I should’ve started throwing with. Today, I’m not a professional player by any means, but I can hold my own.
So in this post, if you’re a beginner, I’m going to show you how to choose discs that are on point for your skill level. There are a couple of factors that go into disc selection and that’s what we will look at today. This post should make you a pro at picking out discs, so that next time you go to buy some, you’ll know exactly what to look for. Let’s get started!
Types of discs
To start, I want to very quickly show you the 4 types of discs in disc golf: distance drivers, control/fairway drivers, mid-range discs, and putters. These 4 types of discs cover the sport of disc golf and are used for different types of shots in different situations. The first picture below shows you the difference between the fastest and the slowest disc in disc golf.
1. Distance drivers: these are maximum distance, maximum speed discs designed to fly fast and far. They are not designed for the beginner disc golfer. These discs require a lot of spin and power, which beginners can’t produce just yet.
2. Control/Fairway drivers: these drivers are easier to control and are a little bit more accurate, but are still tough for brand new players because you still need a decent amount of speed and power behind these discs. These discs are used for shorter drives and when you need to squeeze your disc through smaller windows on the course.
Caution: when you’re brand new, stay away from all drivers. They’re way too hard if you’re a new player and will not fly correctly. You’ll only end up frustrated on the course. Once you improve a little bit, you can work your way up to control and then distance drivers. For now, stick with the two types of discs below – mid-range discs and putters ⬇️.
3. Mid-range discs: your mid-range is, and always will be, the multi-tool of your bag. These types of discs can be used in literally any situation on the course (and normally work pretty well). I personally use my mid-range discs to practice with, which means I will use them for every shot in a round.
These discs are a little bulkier than drivers, making them less aerodynamic and less able to fly long distances. Mid-range discs are normally able to provide more consistency for you when you need more finesse than distance. Mid-range discs offer the best control out of the 4 types of discs and offer a decent amount of distance as well.
4. Putters: the slowest-flying discs out of the 4 types. Putters are very easy to control, normally fly very straight, but don’t offer as much distance as the other discs. Putters are used for short throws into the basket, what we call putting, and for approach shots just a bit out from the basket.
Now that you know the 4 types of discs, let me show you what flight ratings are and how they can help you pick out discs.
Note: all examples from here on out with be with a Right-Handed Backhand (RHBH) thrower. Sorry, lefties.
Disc golf flight ratings
Disc golf flight ratings are tricky at first, but if you learn about them right now, I can almost guarantee you that you won’t ever have trouble picking out the right discs for your skill level. I can tell you from experience that learning the flight ratings was one of the most useful things I’ve learned in disc golf to date. Once you learn them, you’ll be able to look at any disc and know almost exactly how it flies and whether it will be a good match for your game. So what exactly are flight ratings?
Disc golf flight ratings, created by Innova Discs, is a series of four numbers, or a rating system, that represents the true characteristics of a disc golf disc as it flies through the air, including the speed, glide, turn, and fade of a disc.
Speed: how hard the disc must be thrown to fly correctly. Speed is represented by the numbers 1 through 14. A high-speed disc is up at the top, let’s say around 12, 13, and 14. As you get lower on that scale, the required amount of speed is less. A 1 speed disc requires very little effort and speed to work properly after it’s thrown.
Glide: how long the disc can stay in the air. Glide is measured between 1 and 7, with 7 being the highest and 1 being the lowest amount of glide.
Turn: how much the disc turns to the right when first thrown (rhbh thrower). Turn is represented by the numbers 1 to -5. Discs with a score closer to -5 will have more turn.
Fade: how much the disc turns, or fades, to the left at the end of it’s flight (rhbh thrower). Fade ranges from 0 to 5 and the higher the number, the more the disc will fade.
Here’s a good pic that you can feel free to save to help you with the flight ratings.
How to pick out discs using the flight ratings
So now you know just a little bit about the flight ratings, so now I’m going to show you how to apply these when looking for beginner disc golf discs.
Speed ranges 1 to 14
Speed is just about the single most important factor when looking for disc golf discs. High-speed discs have to be thrown with a lot of spin and speed in order to fly correctly and beginners just can’t get enough power behind their discs to match that speed. Beginner disc golfers want discs with a speed of 7 or less. I would suggest no more than 5 if you’re brand new. That’s why putters and mid-range discs are usually perfect discs because their speed is normally 6 or less.
Glide ranges 1 to 7
Glide is very important for beginners. Glide determines how long a disc can stay in the air so beginners want a glide of at least 3 or more. This will guarantee just a little bit of extra distance on your throws which is what you need as a beginner.
Turn ranges 1 to -5
Turn is important for beginners because turn determines stability.
Stability is simply how a disc flies after it is released from the throwers hand. The level of stability in a disc will determine if it is going to turn to the right right away, fly straight through the whole flight, or fade to the left early on in the disc’s flight.
For disc golfers, there are 3 kinds of disc stability that affect turn.
Overstable discs turn to the left very quickly and should only be used by advanced players. Stable discs are discs that, for the most part, fly straight. Understable discs turn the the right after being first thrown. These discs are the easiest discs for beginners to throw. Beginners want to look for discs with -1 turn or greater. Stability is a bit more complex than that, but that’s a basic explanation of stability. If you want to learn more about stability, check out our complete stability guide here.
Fade ranges from 0 to 5
Fade is how much the disc turns, or fades, to the left at the end of it’s flight. Beginners want discs with as little fade as possible. If you’re brand new, look for discs with a fade of 0 to 1. That will help your disc stay just a bit straighter near the end of flight.
So when looking for your beginner discs, I would suggest getting understable discs with low speed, high glide, high turn, and low fade.
A great way to search for discs that for all of those requirements is to head over to InfiniteDiscs.com and use their awesome advanced disc search tool. Check out the pictures below on how I just searched for beginner discs golf discs with all of the requirements above.
For more on disc golf flight ratings, check out all of the awesome posts below ⬇️.
10 important things to remember
1. Don’t worry about what the pros throw…yet
All too often, I see new players watch the pros play and then go get those same advanced discs for their bags. This is a huge mistake. Like I said earlier, beginners need beginner discs. The pros play with discs that take years of playing to be able to throw and require more power, spin, and speed than beginner discs. Start with the easy discs then work your way up until you’re playing with advanced discs.
2. Skip the drivers
Some of those advanced discs I was talking about include control and distance drivers. As a new player, skip the drivers completely. At the bottom of the page, I’ve recommended 3 discs. The third is a very slow, beginner-level control driver. I would not recommend using this until you’ve played enough rounds to be able get a decently straight throw or until you get the hang of throwing a disc. If you’re brand-new, fresh on the course, skip drivers completely. They require too much speed and spin to fly correctly, something brand new players just can’t produce.
3. Weight matters
There are some disc golfers that may argue this with me, but I’m still going to talk about it any way. As a beginner, you want lighter discs. This is because, as a general rule, lighter discs tend to normally be more understable. The heavier the disc, the more stable to overstable it becomes. Beginners should look for weights in the 150 to 170 range. Dgputtheads has a great post on disc weight here on their site if you’d like to learn about this subject more in-depth. The picture below shows where the weight of the disc is normally marked.
4. Plastic matters
The different plastics used, from basic plastic to the more expensive premium plastics, affects the stability of a disc golf disc (the disc’s ability to resist high-speed turn) and thus affect disc flight. And this is widely accepted by the majority of disc golfers as true. Before you get a certain disc, I would try to research that disc in multiple plastic types so that you can make the best choice. Understable discs in some plastic types make them more stable to overstable sometimes but it’s not always the same and this varies across different brands, plastics, and individual discs. So do your research on this! Check out our awesome post, “How Disc Golf Discs are Made: The Complete Guide.”
5. Used vs. New
There are hundreds of thousands of discs in the world that you could possibly buy…both used and new. Whether you choose to buy either is completely up to. Both used discs and new discs are fine to use on the course but just remember these couple of things.
• Used discs are more understable: as discs age and get used more and more, they take a beating. As they age, the shape of the disc usually changes to make the disc more understable. So make sure you take that into account if you’re buying a used disc. That disc could be WAY more understable than a brand new disc in the same model.
• Is it still being made?: that disc that you love so much could be gone forever if you lose it. Make sure that they’re still making that disc in production so that if you lose your beloved piece of plastic, you can replace it if it’s lost.
But used or new discs are both fine. There’s nothing wrong with something used and new discs are really not that expensive. But be careful of big box stores for new discs. I wouldn’t pay over $20 for a nice new disc. Other than that, whatever you want to do is fine.
6. You WILL lose discs
This is something that I’ve come to terms with, but have done everything in my power to prevent. To this day, I’ve only lost one disc. And have swore to never lose another. I just want you to understand, though, that this happens and sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. If you want to try to stay away from losing discs, checkout our guide, “The Beginners Guide to Finding Lost Disc Golf Discs.”
7. Bright colors!
This is along the same lines as number 6. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS buy discs that are in bright colors so that you can try to prevent them from being lost. The only exception to this rule is for putters that you don’t drive or approach with. If you have a short putting Putter, it’s ok if that’s in a weird color. Otherwise, you’re going to lose some discs. Bright colors like orange, pink, purple, light blue, white, bright red, etc. are perfect and normally don’t get lost. But still, get discs as bright as f*cking possible. You’ll be surprised how even these discs can try to get lost amongst the leaves, downed trees, sticks, brush, and just about everything else.
8. Grab a spare disc if possible
Again, along the same lines as 6 and 7, I would try to buy a couple spare discs of the discs that you like the most. That way, if you lose your favorites, you’ve got spares to fill those spots. Make sure to try and buy them in the same plastic as your favorite disc, because most discs differ in different plastics. I’ve got a couple Dynamic Discs Sheriffs in different plastics and they fly completely different due to the difference in plastic.
9. Find discs that feel good to you
One great tip for beginners is to make sure that you really like how your disc feels and how it flies for you. No matter what recommendation is given, always stick to discs of your skill level that feel good and fly well for you. I’ve had better players recommend discs that I’ve just hated. Nothing against those discs, but I just didn’t like them for me. So I stopped using them.
10. My #1 tip for beginners – Disc. The. F*ck. Down
Last on this list is just one HUGE general tip for beginners. We’ve already talked about drivers and why you should stay way from them. Stick to no higher than mid-range discs when you first start. But if you’re looking for serious improvement as a beginner, go even farther with this and disc down to putters. Play with just putters for awhile and I promise that will see some major improvement. Putters are slow, very controllable, and will allow you to fully work on improving your throwing technique. Start with these and work your way up!
Where’s the best place to get discs?
Ok, so where to get discs. Obviously I already recommended InfiniteDiscs.com with their amazing advanced disc search tool. I am an affiliate of theirs so if you buy from them, I’ll get a small commission. But I would not recommend them if I didn’t believe in them. I’ve been a loyal customer for years and they have some of the best prices and service in the disc golf industry. But first, before you get them there…
I highly recommend going to an actual store first. That’s the best way to get a feel for some discs and gain some insight from knowledgeable disc golfers/store associates. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a disc golf store in your town or city (or within an hour). If you don’t, try to find out where your nearest disc golf store is and plan a trip. It WILL be worth it. If you just don’t have anything close, check out Play It Again Sports, Academy Sports, or dare I say it, your local big box chain sporting goods store (just go check out the discs and buy them elsewhere).
I say that because we as disc golfers really try to support the #discgolfcommunity by buying from other disc golf stores and brands. That helps the community grow and in return, they can provide better products and equipment for us. It’s a win-win.
You can also go online to buy disc golf discs and gear. We already suggested InfiniteDiscs.com. Definitely check them out. You can also go to the websites of all of the major brands. For other gear, like shoes, bags, and accessories, you can hit up different disc golf stores on Amazon. Yes, it’s Amazon, but as long as you’re buying from a disc golf store through Amazon, I feel like that’s acceptable.
The three best discs for beginners
The following three discs are some of the best in disc golf for new players.
1. Dynamic Discs Judge
The Judge just straight up rocks. Undeniably straight and great for all types of putts and approach shots. Grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
2. Discraft Buzzz
The Discraft Buzzz is hands down the most popular disc in the world. While some other discs try to catch up, the Buzzz just continues to be a consistent and reliable part of so many bags. Grab a Buzzz here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
3. Innova Leopard
So this disc is a control/fairway driver and just about the only driver I would recommend to newer players. As a brand new player, I wouldn’t use this yet. But once you get a few rounds under your belt, the Leopard will start to fall into place. It’s undeniably controllable and accurate and will hit any line you try to put it on. Grab one here on InfiniteDiscs.com.
I’ve got some discs…what’s next?
Time to get out on the course! Check out our post, “Disc Golf 101: A Step By Step Beginner’s Guide,” for a complete guide on how to play disc golf starting with your very first round.
Don’t forget to get some good equipment, too
Before you go, I want you to check out some of my other posts on the site and make sure that you’ve got the equipment that you need to both improve and to play at the top of your game.
Lastly, check out the book!
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the best beginner disc golf book on the planet, “The Disc Golf Player’s Manual.” This ebook is packed with over 200+ pages of the best tips, tricks, and advice for new players!