We all love disc golf. That’s a fact proven by the thousands and thousands of rounds played every day. Disc golf is a really great way to pass the time, especially on those perfect 75° degree cloudless days. But the weather outside isn’t always that nice. Sometimes it’s windy or rainy. And as the weather starts changing, winter sets in and we’ve got to make a decision on whether or not we want to play during those blisteringly cold months. Today, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at everything you need to do to crush your rounds during these cold months and learn how to play disc golf in the winter.
Why should I play when it’s this cold?!
So even though disc golf is really awesome, playing in cold weather can be a bit it a buzzkill. I can easily say that I’m not really a fan of the cold and I may only play a few times in the winter. But there are some really good reasons why you should get out on the course.
First, if you want to get better at the sport, you need to play during the winter. Playing competitively requires some effort, some of which will have to come during the colder months. Disc golf doesn’t ever really stop, even for the cold. The best disc golf players in the world practice all year round. Winter can be long and can allow for some really good practice on and off the course.
Next, think of how much your skill will diminish by the spring. Even if your play stays the same, other players can will get better during the winter. The cold season provides players a huge opportunity to get better.
Playing during the winter can be fun. During the hotter months, most local courses tend to be pretty packed most of the time. And a lot of folks don’t want to bear the cold. This season gives you a chance to play on the busiest courses with not a lot of foot traffic to hold you up. So even if you don’t like the cold, it may be worth it with less people on the course.
Everything you need to play in the cold
The next thing we need to do before attempting a round in the freezing cold is to prep for your round. Cold weather presents some unique challenges, especially when you factor rain, sleet, ice, and snow into the mix. So here are some of the best things you can pack in your disc golf bag to be ready for anything when it’s cold out.
• Your bag: first, you’re going to need a disc golf bag (of course). You may already have one, but if you don’t, I highly recommend the Infinite Discs Slinger Bag. It’s just what you need for those Winter rounds.
• Water: even though it may not seem like it, water is extremely important when you are playing in the cold. Most people don’t realize this, but you can become dehydrated in these cold weather conditions. You may not feel thirsty causing your body to slowly become more and more dehydrated. This dehydration can cause serious problems for you on the course. So make sure you bring a lot of water! Shoot for at least a half gallon or more. I really liked this article on winter hydration that I read on Fleetfeethartford.com. They’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to why you need to hydrate in the winter (yes, the website is about running, but the information still applies to disc golf).
• Slip-free discs: having some slip-free discs is crucial whenever the weather starts to get ugly. Normally, the rain isn’t too much of a problem, but when it starts sleeting and snowing, it’s important to have these. Most of the Innova DX line, Discraft ESP line, or Dynamic discs Fusion Burst line are good options for disc golf in poor weather. The low-quality plastic is a little bit grippier and easier to throw if there’s moisture. These discs are also cheap, so if they get lost, they’re not expensive to replace. You can get a cheap Innova DX starter set on Amazon or the Discraft DSSB starter set on Amazon.
• Multiple towels: having multiple towels is always a good option, especially if the weather does take a turn for the worse when it’s cold out. Have a chamois or something like a ShamWOW! for your disc is always great. Definitely have at least two towels with you, though, in the winter. If you know conditions are worse, bring three or four towels. Better to have it and not need it, know what I mean? Amazon has the best prices for cheap small towel sets, but InfiniteDiscs.com has the best selection of disc golf towels. You can also grab any of the towels in the next couple of sentences off of Amazon. Grab a fast drying microfiber towel 3 pack set here, the Rainleaf microfiber towel here, and the Innova Dewfly Microsuede Disc Golf Towel here.
• Layering vs. large coats: you may see the benefit of wearing a large coat out in the cold. I get it…it’s cold. But wearing a huge coat may not be best for your disc golf game because it can somewhat restrict your movement and not allow you to throw the disc correctly. So, with that in mind, layering your clothing is always a better option.
Pro tip: obviously we want to layer our clothing on the disc golf course, but buying a lot of warm clothing is often expensive at retail stores. If you don’t have everything you need, check out local thrift stores, used clothing stores, and other places similar to Goodwill for warm clothes. You can find a lot of great pieces to keep you warm on the course and save a ton of money (that can be used to buy more discs!).
• Initial layer: this first layer needs to be a t-shirt or something that will help to add warmth. Any regular t-shirt is fine.
• Compression gear: this stuff is phenomenal for providing warmth and not restricting movement. Under Armour and Nike make the best gear. If you can afford it, go this route for every piece of clothing on your body. This stuff does run for about $30 dollars per article so try to find it used if you’re able to. Compression material makes a good initial layer or second layer. Something like this Under Armour ColdGear compression shirt will be perfect.
• Thermal gear: similar to compression gear, thermal gear helps to insulate and provide maximum warmth. You can see some options of what I’m talking about here on Amazon.
• Vests: vests are great in that they provide warmth to your core, chest and back, but usually don’t limit or restrict your arms. Vests like this one found on Amazon will work. I’ve owned a couple of vest in my life and they are great for keeping you extra warm.
• Hoodies: hoodies and sweatshirts are fairly thick, yet flexible options for you on the course. They make great third layers. I’m a big fan of Under Armour for their clothing designed to keep you warm. Options like this Under Armour full-zip hoodie work great in the cold. I’ve got a couple of Under Armour and Nike hoodies in my closet and I love them.
• Windbreaker/waterproof jacket: these help to provide a fourth or outer layer to your wardrobe and can help in wet or rainy conditions. These jackets are very thin, allowing maximum range of motion when you throw. I’m a big fan of the Colombia Watertight II jacket (link to Amazon).
• Pants: what you wear below the waist is very important and a lot of golfers neglect this part of the wardrobe. No matter what you wear, do not wear jeans. Jeans are poor insulators and don’t provide much warmth. Also, if they get wet, they can get heavy and cold. They’re also not very flexible. As an initial layer, get a pair of long john legwarmers. These are like a warm pair of underwear that covers the legs down to about the ankles. Your outer layer should be outdoor or windbreaker pants that help to wick away water. Try to get waterproof pants like these if you can. Outdoor hiking pants also work. Just make sure you play it smart when picking out your pants, because they need to be warm and flexible.
• Head gear: you’ve got to keep yourself warm from the neck up. I would advise against regular baseball caps, as they don’t really help to cover your ears or warm your head all that much. Instead, go for at least a beanie (toboggan) that can keep your whole head warm. I usually wear a team toboggan. For those extremely windy, cold days, you can get a balaclava. That essentially covers every part of your face except your eyes. You can go further with a another hat on top, but a balaclava is generally warm enough.
• Scarf: if you choose to just wear a beanie hat, you can also get a scarf to wrap around your neck.
• Don’t forget about your hands: warm gloves can help while you aren’t throwing. You can grab a Friction disc golf glove to cover your throwing hand if you’d like. They aren’t the warmest, but can provide some protection from the cold.
• Your shoes: you need some sturdy, grippy shoes for the cold weather. Outdoor hiking shoes like Merrells or the Adidas Terrex GTX outdoor shoe. You can also look for waterproof outdoor shoes or waterproof boots.
• Hot hands: hot hands are phenomenal for helping you stay warm in the cold. You can grab hot hands for almost every part of your body on Amazon.
• Hand sanitizer: When you’re playing in icy or snowy weather, your discs will get gross and your hands will need cleaning. Hand sanitizer is a quick way to get that stuff off your hands (along with another towel).
• Tiny bottle of lotion: In the cold, hands can get really dry. This could potentially affect your throws. So keep a small bottle of lotion on hand to help out those dry hands of yours.
• Chapstick: I hate chapped lips so I always keep this in my bag. Just one less thing to worry about.
• Anything else that helps you stay warm: if you’ve got any tricks to help yourself stay warm, use them! Also, feel free to send your tips to Dgndiscgolf@gmail.com
• Large trash bag: if the weather gets messy, you will be happy you packed this. Keep it in your car and pull it out when you finish your round in order to keep your car from getting super muddy and dirty. A big trash bag can also fit any clothes and shoes from friends so that, again, you can keep your car clean!
• Extra clothes: if your rounds are muddy and dirty, have an extra pair of clothes packed to be able to change into after your round.
The pre-round warm up
Now that you’re all set to play, and your gear is all prepped, head out to the course. Once you get out there, you need to make sure that you warm up and stretch properly before your round. This is more important in the winter because the cold tightens your muscles up. Tight muscles tear much easier than warm, stretched muscles. I see a lot of people who don’t warm up and they’re putting themselves at risk of injury. Those players are also missing out on the benefits of stretching before each round. Be sure to check out our awesome post, “The 17 Best Disc Golf Stretches to Improve Your Game,” here on the blog. Those stretches will help you warm up every muscle used in disc golf so that you can dominate during any round.
7 Easy winter playing tips
Great job getting prepped for your round and all warmed up. Playing in the cold is tough so here are 7 easy winter playing tips.
1. Always be prepared for bad weather: when it’s cold out, rain can easily turn to sleet, snow, or huge sheets of ice. The best tip I can give you is to be ready for all of it. Dress appropriately. Carry everything extra that you may need in your bag. And be observant of the weather around you.
2. Drink enough water and eat enough food before you play: make sure you’re body is performing at it’s optimal level in the cold. You can do this by eating a proper meal before you play and drinking enough water. During your round, be sure to have snacks and water with you for those lengthy rounds.
3. Dress AWAP: it’s cold out there so Dress As Warm As Possible. You never know how the weather will be, so always overdress. Wear more than enough, but be careful not to restrict your movement on the course. Make sure to test your clothing out before play. If you can perform fluid arm motions in what you’re wearing, it’s probably fine.
4. Take it slow: if you’re out on a slippery or overly wet course, take all of your shots a little bit slower in order to avoid any risk of injury. If you pair this tip with proper footwear that has lots of grip, you should do well and avoid any unnecessary slips and/or falls.
5. Try to play with friends: first off, it’s more fun to play with friends on the disc golf course anyway. But it’s also more fun to suffer through the cold with friends! On top of that, it’s generally a good idea to play with friends because you have someone there in case of an injury or emergency.
6. Don’t risk your safety: even though disc golf is life, we do want to keep it that way. If the conditions are too bad, don’t risk going out. There will always be more days and more time for gettin’ your disc on.
7. Call it a day: if it starts snowing, sleeting, icing over, or if you just get too cold, call it a day and go home. Just like with the last tip, there will always be more days and more time for disc golf.
What about playing in the freezing rain, sleet, or snow?
Playing in these conditions present even more significant and unique challenges. While it may be easier to just play on another day, I can understand wanting to play no matter the weather. But what about playing in extreme conditions?
You need to first make sure you dress to stay dry. There’s almost nothing worse than being outside in the cold when you’re all wet. Cold and wet don’t mix very well, which could cause you to get very sick. Next, be prepared to lose discs. It’s messy and wet, two conditions that can easily cause you to lose discs. Hopefully, you’ve taken our advice and bought a few cheap discs for these conditions. Be sure that the discs you’re using are very brightly colored so that they have a better chance of being seen in snow.
The ribbon technique is another great way to prevent lost discs in the snow. You simply attach a small strip of duct tape and about a three to four foot piece of ribbon to your disc. This does not hinder the disc’s flight and it can save you from having to search forever for a lost disc in the snow. For a quick and easy step by step video, check out the one below.
Lastly, when playing in wintery conditions, try to play smart and consistent. Don’t try to crush long drives or try out risky shots. These are not the rounds to be taking chances, especially if there’s snow on the ground and a chance of losing discs. This applies most of all if you’re playing competitively. Don’t sacrifice any of your pars. A completely even round can beat those who tried to play like it was sunny out. Play smart and you can win in these conditions.
Word of caution: Before we move on to the next section, please note that I’m not a medical professional and always advise you to seek expert medical advice or treatment if you experience or see someone experiencing any of the following things before, during, or after your disc golf rounds in the cold weather.
Winter dangers – be careful of…
1. The common cold: it’s very possible to get a little sick after being out in cold, wet weather. Here are some common cold symptoms:
• Generally feeling unwell (malaise)
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Sore throat
• Slight body aches or a mild headache
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms after your rounds, here is what you should do:
• Get some rest
• Stay hydrated
• Avoid any direct contact with others
• Take a vitamin C supplement
2. The flu: if you’re out in the cold for a lengthy period of time, it’s possible to get sick with the flu. Here are some common symptoms:
• Weakness or extreme fatigue
• Pain and tiredness around your eyes
• Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
• Severe aches in muscles and joints
• A headache
• A dry cough
• A sore throat and runny nose
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms after your rounds, you can do things very similar to if you have a common cold:
• Get some rest
• Stay hydrated
• Avoid any direct contact with others
• Take a vitamin C supplement
3. Hypothermia: when exposed to cold temperatures, a person’s body temperature begins to drop. If that temperature gets too low, a person may begin to experience hypothermia and develop these symptoms:
• Fumbling hands
• Memory loss
• Slurred speech
If you think someone is developing these symptoms, stop playing and get them into a warmer temperature immediately. If you experience this or see someone who is, it’s best to call 911 and seek medical treatment.
4. Frostbite: this happens when ice crystals form within body parts exposed to temperatures below freezing. When the crystals form, blood is unable to flow through the affected body part causing damage that can become permanent if left untreated. Here are a few of the symptoms of frostbite:
• Pale colored skin
• Possibility of skin blisters
• Firm-feeling skin
• loss of sensation,
• pale, yellowish, bluish, gray, or mottled skin color
• blood-filled skin blisters
• firm-feeling skin with the affected area feeling hard and solid
If you experience these symptoms, stop playing right away and see medical treatment immediately. This damage can become permanent and can cause infection at its most serious.
Too cold for you to play?
Instead of heading out onto the course, check to see if there is an indoor facility nearby that you can practice at. You can also practice indoors with a large net or tarp. That’s pretty easy to set up. But if you can’t practice like this, at least try to keep up your strength during the winter. Find a nearby gym and do some strength training or workout all of your disc golf muscles while you wait for the weather to get a little nicer. For a great disc golf exercise post, check out, “The 12 Best Disc Golf Exercises to Keep You Fit,” here on the blog.
So what have we learned?
We’ve gone over quite a bit today and I thank you for sticking with it this whole time! I can see that you are a truly serious disc golf player if you’ve read all of the previous written information. So make sure you understand a few things before you go out to play in the cold: make sure to know how to prep your bag for the weather, make sure you always stretch and warm up before rounds, and always try to play smart on the course. If you do those things, and do your best to avoid getting sick, injured, or anything else, you will have a blast and absolutely crush it when you play disc golf in the winter. Thanks for reading, disc golfers. Now get out there and go throw!