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Great Discraft Discs for 2016 – Undertaker, Thrasher, and Mini Buzzz

discraftDiscraft  has a large selection of discs and a long-time presence in the disc golf market. I actually started my love of disc golf with Discraft discs, as have many thousands of players who are able to find affordable discs that are very forgiving for novices. Discs such as the Avenger SS, XL, Stratus, Comet, Xpress, and their juggernaut, the Buzzz, all lend themselves very well to new players who do not yet throw with a lot of power.

In 2016, the popular disc maker presented two new discs which straddle the divide between beginning players and experienced players, and based on initial sales the duel-appeal approach seemed to work well for them. The Undertaker was the first big release of the year and became Discraft’s hottest-selling new release since the Nuke distance driver release in late 2009.

The formula for the success was not in releasing a new utility disc that may or may not come in handy for certain types of players or certain types of throws, but instead creating a disc that merely does a workhorse task and does it very well.  The Undertaker flies much like the popular TeeBird by Innova, though a touch beefier and faster– perhaps we could say it is more like a Thunderbird. Though Discraft does not use the 4-digit flight rating system, stubbornly sticking to a much less informative single-digit “turn” rating, reviewers on the Infinite Discs website give it an average 4-number rating of:
9 / 5 / -1 / 3

The Undertaker fights headwinds well, without too much bouncing around, and it always finishes with a solid fade when thrown for precision shots between 200 – 300 feet. If you try to crank the Undertaker out like a distance bomber, then it gets more understable, but alas, that is not its purpose or design. It is a workhorse driver for the fairway and for those tee shots where the hole is under 300 feet away. In those cases, the Undertaker is extremely reliable as long as you account for that smooth fade at the end of flight. It wasn’t long before the Undertaker won a permanent spot in my bag, falling between and often replacing other Discraft discs that were previous staples in my fairway game, like the Elite Z XS and Elite Z Predator.

And once again, the Undertaker isn’t completely unthrowable to new players. Though they may not get the distance of an experienced player, the disc will still behave the same, holding a line until the fade, based on the speed of the release.  So it still finds itself useful across the range of experience.

Another new release by Discraft for 2016 was the Thrasher, which straddles the line between beginner and advanced players even more thoroughly than the Undertaker. The Thrasher is something of an anomaly because it is clocked in as a “speed 12” distance driver by reviewers, putting it in the speed range of popular drivers like the Destroyer, Photon, Outlaw, etc. and yet you don’t need huge arm speed to get great distance results.  It doesn’t have the large fade of those other distance drivers, making the Thrasher more forgiving for newer players, and it has an understable pull upon release, which allows it to carry for long distances before touching down. But even when power throwers give it a whirl, it doesn’t behave like many other understable discs– it doesn’t pull right into the ground and turn into a roller. It manages to fight that understable “crash-and-burn” tendency when thrown hard. So, you can either dial back the speed and have a really good precision drive, or you can crank it and watch it take a long, understable flight with a gentle end fade. So far, the Thrasher has proven to be a second driver hit for Discraft in 2016.

One of the new releases by Discraft in 2016 that even took the company completely by surprise was the novelty disc, the Mini Buzzz.  This miniature replica of the popular Buzzz mid-range flew off the shelves so fast that the first run was sold out in only a day or two.  It is larger than the typical mini marker disc, and it is certainly not PDGA approved for use in game play, but this little mini-sized disc actually knows how to fly! Once Discraft caught up with demand and started producing these little guys as fast as consumers could snatch them up, they became a disc golf sensation as players started collecting and…yes…throwing them across courses,  reaching distances of 250 feet or more!  They fly wonderfully despite being a novelty. Release it with a hyzer angle and let it rip! it will stand up and fly further than you expect. As soon as any player pulls out a Mini Buzzz and says, “hey, watch this!” their friends end up searching out mini Buzzz discs of their own.  We shall see how long the trend continues. After this, I foresee more disc manufacturers making miniature replicas of their most popular discs.

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Play Angry – A Zenless Guide to Disc Golf – Chapter 4

Note: This is part 4 in a series of posts which make up the chapters of a tongue-in-cheek look at the game of disc golf and why we love it so much, despite the lack of reciprocated affection. It is not actually intended to improve your game…unless it does…in which case we’re happy to take the credit.

Chapter 4 – Achieving True Disc Lust

In my experience, it doesn’t take long for players to find themselves in need of new discs. Remember the plastic grocery bag that you used to carry your first discs around the course? It will quickly be replaced with a starter disc bag, which will then be replaced with a full-size bag, which shall logically be replaced with a backpack, which shall then be replaced with a small pickup truck with two drink holders, Bluetooth speakers, a retractable stool, and a shade canopy.

It is a disease. Face it. There is no cure. I overheard a teenage player tell his mother once while perusing bags in the local disc golf shop:

“Hey, honey, this one looks great,” pointing to a popular competition bag that holds about 16 discs.

“No, Mom! I’m going to get the one that holds 150 discs. Not that puny thing!”

I scratched my head, trying to imagine which portable bag holds 150 discs, then came to conclusion that he is probably of the Harry Potter generation, and if he could imagine it, then it must exist in the real world! Muggles…

That illogical quest for bigger, better bags and carts that hold more discs is real, because there is yet another level to disc acquisition which stretches far beyond the actual game. There is a state of mind that endangers nearly all disc golf players. You’ll know you are infected the first time you walk into a disc golf shop and you see a shiny, smooth, colorful disc with a unique stamp design, or just the right touch of milky swirls that hypnotize you from deep within the plastic. Suddenly, you don’t care what that disc does when you throw it. In fact, if somebody were to lift it and cock their am back, you’d yell, “No! What are you thinking? Get your dirty hands off my baby!

Sure, you may still ask questions like, “Is it overstable or understable?” But that is merely a question, like “Is it a girl, or a boy?” You really don’t care about the answer because you already know in your heart that you simply must own that disc. You now have an official case of “disc lust”. There’s no cure, except to stay away from smooth, round objects, and we know that’s not going to happen.

I remember a day when I was looking through a pile of new discs, doing my best not to think about how pretty and untarnished they were. Red discs, purple discs, blue discs, swirly discs, sparkly discs, and then– like the devil himself, tempting me beyond my capacity to resist– a disc with a full color image of a donut on top. It was a cake donut! With sprinkles! It wasn’t fare! I asked what kind of disc it was, how it flies, if anybody has experience throwing one, etc. The replies went right through my brain like water through a net. Heck, I wasn’t going to throw that thing anyway. Why would I want such a work of art dinged-up by chains, or scratched by trees and rocks, or soiled by…um…soil?

I’ve seen countless players buy new discs that will never be given the opportunity to fly. I’ve seen players buy multiple copies of the same disc merely because they had to have as many color variations as possible. I’ve even seen people snatch up misprints with double-stamps and messed-up tournament stamps because the beauty was in the supposed flaws. It isn’t just a matter of collecting. It’s a passion. The good folks working at the disc golf shop don’t hold it against you. After all, it’s your disc lust that helps pay their wages. But they also sympathize, because whatever wage they are making, it isn’t enough to afford that secret disc stash that every one of them has in a box, tucked away in a corner, or high on a shelf, waiting for the day that never seems to come, when they too will pull those plastic circles to their hearts and with a raspy whisper declare, “My Precious…

Coming Soon: Chapter 5 – The Need for Companionship

Previous Chapters:
Why Do We Play?
Be the Basket / Be the Disc
It’s Always the Disc’s Fault

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Disc Golf Distance Driver Comparison and Reviews

Without attempting to completely cover the ever-growing arsenal of distance drivers that are being released into the disc golf market, this article will pull together a respectable cross-section of popular distance drivers from several different manufacturers and look at how they fly.  We will focus on a few respective “bombers” that are available for your extra long drives, with rated flight speeds of “12” or higher.

Keep in mind, high-speed distance drivers only fly as far as you have the power to throw them. If you don’t have a powerful throw, then high speed discs will likely fly shorter distances than a disc that is more “tuned” to your arm speed. Slow arm speed doesn’t necessarily need to be a weakness in your game. Pick up some quality drivers with speeds ranging from 7-10 and you’ll get great results. As you move to higher speeds, you can compensate for the slower arm speed with more “understable” discs. For a good read on understable drivers, check out this article.

kingKing – This is one of the most fun distance drivers on the market, and a definite highlight from Westside Discs. However, it is pretty much agreed among disc golfers who throw the King that the flight ratings which are printed on the disc are wrong. It is given a 14, 5, -1, 4 rating. However, the disc (especially in beautiful Tournament plastic) is not nearly as overstable as those numbers would suggest. In fact, most people who throw a King would rate it something more like a 14, 5, -2, 2 and sometimes it even lacks much of a final fade at all.  I use the Tournament King as an understable distance driver, and a VIP King as a more overstable version when I want some fade at the end of the flight. But there is no arguing with the distance, as long as you don’t mind it pulling to the understable side on the way to your intended target.

colossusColossus – The Colossus was Innova’s answer to some of the popular 14-speed drivers that hit the market.  As a bomber, it certainly does the trick if you have the arm speed for it.  It has a really nice, understable pull upon release, especially in GStar plastic, which allows the disc to get a lot of extra distance before making a final fade back to the overstable side. It is a great S-Curve distance driver that can really stretch its flight with nice glide, allowing even amateur players to reach the 400 foot mark.  If you throw it in Champion plastic, you can expect the Colossus to be more overstable with an earlier fade.

 

DDX – With the Innova Destroyer  reining as the top-selling distance driver on the market for so long, it is inevitable that other companies will create  very similar discs. The DDX rim feels different than a Destroyer with a slightly sharper inner rim edge, but the flight characteristics are very similar, only with less fade than a destroyer. The DDX has a flight rating of 12, 5, -1, 2 which makes it an easy-to-control long-bomber for intermediate to advanced players. In a short duration, the DDX has already made its way into the hearts of players as a go-to distance driver.  Again, don’t expect it to be an easy-to-throw disc for new players, since this (along with most high-speed discs) takes some throwing power to get the desired results.

 

Lace – Vibram is an instant standout in any disc golf store because they make their discs of rubber, and any player can tell these discs are different to the touch. But once players pick them up and give them a fling, it is instantly apparent that these discs can fly!  The Lace is the best-selling Vibram disc and is their stable distance driver. Vibram has used a rather different and somewhat cryptic flight rating system, but most players rate this driver around a 12 speed. But regardless of rating, it is one of the easier distance drivers to throw, working wonderfully for players without a lot of experience.

 

Boss – For those who follow the distance records that seem to be broken every year in the windy conditions of the high desert, the Boss is one of the discs that has held one of those records with a throw by David Wiggins Jr. of 1108 feet. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everybody who picks up a Boss is going to set new, personal records, but it is a reliable and very popular distance driver by Innova. New players might find it hard to get this disc “out there” because it will fade earlier than desired. You need to have some experience and arm speed to get this 13-speed disc to go the distance.

Havoc – The Havoc by Latitude 64 is one of those distance drivers that has stayed somewhat in the background, without a lot of attention. But it is a serious bomber that flies wonderfully for players of all skill levels.  With a flight rating much like the Innova Boss, you’d expect it to fade a bit more than it typically does. The Havoc can be a very nice straight flyer or S-curve flyer when thrown in a lighter weight, especially in Gold Line plastic. The user-friendly Havoc sort of took a backseat to the Ballista by Latitude 64 which is a beefier flyer that shines brighter with bigger, faster arms.

 

The Destiny – The Destiny by Westside Discs took off in sales to quickly surpass the popular King, because for a 14-speed disc, it is really pretty friendly to players who are still fairly new to the game. It has more of an understable release which allows it to take long, S-curve flights for maximum distance. More experienced players may find it too understable, until they throw it for huge, hyzer shots, which still achieve huge distance. For many players, the Destiny feels like a serious game changer when it comes to distance.  The sales of the disc at Infinite Discs didn’t only spike when it was a new release, but continued to gain momentum with time, which is always a good sign. That means that more people are giving it a try, talking about it, and discovering the distance potential of the Destiny.

 

Catalyst – MVP took a big step when they introduced a series of distance drivers with wider rims.  The wider rims allowed them to tackle the distance driver market with more competitive distance results, unleashing discs that have a speed rating higher than 12. The Catalyst is the more understable of the wider-rimmed series, which allows players without huge arm speed to really get this disc to travel. Whenever a distance driver caters to the bulk of disc golfers, most of whom do not have the throwing power of a pro, then the sales role in. Thus, the sales of the Catalyst quickly surpassed those of the other, more overstable high-speed discs by MVP like the Octane, Nitro, and Energy.

 

Outlaw – The Outlaw is a disc from Legacy Discs which instantly drew comparisons to the extremely popular Destroyer by Innova. The flight ratings are identical, with a 12, 5, -1, 3.  Legacy managed to not only create a hit with the similar flight characteristics, but added fuel to the fire with a series of limited edition stamps, introducing different “outlaw” characters on different editions, which later culminated in a stamp design that featured all of the characters together. They didn’t only know how to make a solid distance driver, but understood the collector mindset which would help create a cult hit. So, even when players weren’t necessarily buying the disc to throw, they were buying them to hang on the wall as decoration.

Kahu – One of the newer members of the growing family of disc manufacturers is RPM Discs from New Zealand. As one of their first, core disc releases, they put out the Kahu, which is a superb distance driver that again draws comparisons to the Destroyer by Innova. In both Cosmic plastic (more translucent) and Atomic Plastic (more like Innova’s Star plastic) it has a really nice feel in the hand, and also presents a low profile, which is great for players who like flatter discs without too much dome.  It cuts through the air with nice speed and finishes with a solid turn. It flies especially well for forehand throwers, though backhand bombers would also find the results quite satisfying. RPM Discs also makes some really beautiful colors and attractive stamps, making the discs even cooler to add to your bag. The Kahu comes highly recommended as a distance driver for experienced players.

Thrasher – The Thrasher by Discraft is a unique, new release distance driver because it has an understable flight pattern, but without the tendency to flip over and role when thrown by more powerful arms.  That makes the disc useful as a distance bomber for newer players, but also a nice utility driver for experienced players.  It can make some serious S-curves and has a glide that seems to go forever. Along with the Undertaker, it is proving to be a popular new 2016 addition to Discraft’s huge entourage of discs. The longevity of its popularity is yet to be seen, but for now, it seems to be universally loved at first throw by most disc golfers who give it a throw.

Defender – For the players who want a beefy, overstable distance driver that will turn, no matter what, there is no need to look further than the recently released Defender by Dynamic Discs. Though it is overstable and proud of it, experienced throwers who can throw 350 feet or more will find that they can still achieve surprising distance with the Defender before it makes its dramatic fade.  Because of this hard fade, it will not be an easy disc for most beginning and intermediate players.  It can be used a wind-fighter when throwing into headwinds. It could also be used for power forehand throwers.

 

That is a quick look at some of the prominent distance drivers in the higher speed range, but certainly doesn’t cover all of them.  For more distance drivers with reviews and flight data, check out the huge selection of discs at Infinite Discs.

 

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Dynamic Discs Defender–Lucid vs. BioFuzion

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This summer, we saw a lot of new disc releases from several disc golf manufacturers. One of the more successful new releases has been the Dynamic Discs new overstable high speed driver, the Defender. The Defender was originally released in two plastics, Lucid and BioFuzion. It is also now available in Fuzion and Prime plastic. I had a chance to test out the Lucid and BioFuzion Defenders together and learned a lot about these two discs.

First of all, it is important to remember that event though they are two different plastics, they are still the same disc mold. I feel like in disc golf culture we get so caught up in specific runs and plastic types that it can get really confusing to newer players who are just trying to find the right discs to fill the holes in their bag. Of course, I know that there are very noticeable differences in different runs of the same disc, but I just want to make sure it is clear that when I talk about the differences in these two plastic types that we are talking about very slight differences. Overall, I found them both to be very true to the flight numbers they were assigned by Dynamic Discs (Speed: 13, Glide: 5, Turn: 0, Fade: 3).

So overall, I would not consider the Defender in any plastic type to be a beginner friendly disc. However, if you are a recreational or intermediate player considering trying out a higher speed and more overstable driver, you might find some luck with the Defender. It seems to me that the Defender was meant to be a great compliment to Dynamic‘s other popular overstable high-speed driver, the Enforcer. The Defender has a slightly wider rim, but also sports a flight path that doesn’t quite dump as hard with its finishing fade. I feel like this makes the Defender a little more workable for me, where the Enforcer is more of a utility disc when I need a shot that is going to fade really really hard.

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Now, this is where the crucial difference between Lucid and BioFuzion plastic comes into play. I found that the Lucid Defender started to fade just slightly earlier than the BioFuzion Defender did on the same shots. For this reason, if you are that recreational or intermediate player I was talking about just a moment ago, I would recommend the BioFuzion plastic first. If it turns out your arm speed isn’t quite what the Defender requires, the BioFuzion will be a little more forgiving for you. Not only that, but BioFuzion is slightly less durable than Lucid, so overtime that BioFuzion will season faster and become less and less overstable overtime.

So if you are looking to try out a new high-speed overstable distance driver, give the Defender a try. I can honestly say I have nothing bad to say about my experience with the disc, and I am finding more and more of them in use in tournament play. You can read other reviews and learn more about the Defender at Infinite Discs.

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The Unique BUZZZ GT Review

The Buzzz mid-range disc is very well recognized disc name among players.  It has been a long-standing best-selling disc for players looking for extremely accurate, straight-shooting performance.  The disc is so popular that it has also been presented in more understable and overstable variations with the Buzzz SS and the Buzzz OS. There is another variation that is lesser known, simply because it was discontinued by Discraft shortly after it was PDGA approved in 2008.  That unique disc was the Buzzz GT.

The Buzzz GT was a very interesting mold, taking the traditional Buzzz and adding a “groove track” on the top of the disc.  The grove track feature added some new characteristics to the disc, with the key focus being on the grip. For whatever reason, the disc vanished for years, becoming a collectible. In the summer of 2016, Infinite Discs worked with Discraft and the 2016 Ledgestone Open tournament to release a limited edition run of Buzzz GT discs in Cryztal plastic.  Only 500 units were made of the Cryztal Buzzz GT  with a custom stamp that presents a tougher variation on the traditional Buzzz bee breaking chains. The bright yellow, pink, blue, and green colors look great with the durable, translucent plastic and the attractive stamp.

But aside from being available for a limited time and being a fun collectible for disc enthusiasts, how does the Buzzz GT actually fly? When originally released, the disc was advertised as having the flight characteristics of a traditional Buzzz, but with the addition of the comfortable groove track. After taking the Cryztal Buzzz GT out for an 18-hole game, using only the Buzzz GT for all shots, I feel like I can safely say that the disc does not fly like a traditional Buzzz.  However, it flies quite a bit like the more overstable Buzzz OS.  If you need a mid-range throw with a solid end fade, it’s a perfect option.  While playing, it took me a few holes to figure out how the disc wanted to fly, but once I figured it out, I was able to park the disc easily on shorter holes and even had a couple of near ace “chain-outs” on short 200-ft holes.  I was simply unable to get the disc to hold a straight line for very long.

I’ve been a fan of the Banger GT putter by Discraft for several years and found the groove track to be a great feature for my putter grip on those short-range putts.  But I must admit that the Buzzz GT didn’t have the same effect for me. It took a little bit of time to get used to the groove track grip when using a disc that I was trying to throw further than a putter.  When trying to grip the rim a bit tighter, the bottom of the groove seemed to interfere a bit with my fingers.  Or, I could choose to stretch my fingers out more and use the bottom groove as a sort of second, wider rim. Basically, I wasn’t sure how I was going to hold the disc on each release. Once I became accustomed to the feel, it didn’t bother me as much.

After 18 holes, I was happy with the disc and added one to my bag, partially for that collector value, but it wasn’t the instant love affair that I’d expected. It certainly wasn’t added as a back-up to a traditional Buzzz. It’s a unique disc, with very unique characteristics. I can only guess at why Discraft discontinued the disc years ago, but it could have been because of that initial learning curve when players would pick it up.

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Play Angry – A Zenless Guide to Disc Golf – Chapter 3

Note: This is part 3 in a series of posts which make up the chapters of a tongue-in-cheek look at the game of disc golf and why we love it so much, despite the lack of reciprocated affection. It is not actually intended to improve your game…unless it does…in which case we’re happy to take the credit.

Chapter 3 – It’s Always the Disc’s Fault

I was alone when I first took up disc golf. Nobody I knew played it, except as some weird game you played with a Frisbee when you wanted to see how many throws it would take to hit a tree, or a parked car, or a passing biker. But I never dreamed it was a real sport with a real organization, actual rules, professional structure, and several businesses marketing a growing arsenal of discs and accessories.  

One day I saw a new display come into an entertainment store where I worked and wondered why on earth anybody would need so many discs to hit something. Intrigued, I bought a disc that was classified as a distance driver, I looked up the one recently established course in the entire county, grabbed my oldest son who needed intense motivation to actually go outside, and I embarked to try it out.

The course we visited is called “Blind Gully” because almost none of the baskets are visible from the tees. It is basically an undeveloped hillside that belongs to a small town. A fan of the game convinced the city that for little or no cost they could turn their patch of weeds and scrub oak into a course. The tee pads are dirt and there isn’t a single square foot of grooming on the property. We couldn’t figure out where the tees or baskets were except by stumbling upon them. My son, being more tech savvy, found a satellite map of the course that showed us where we were really supposed to go. There were nine holes with two tee locations per hole so you could loop twice for a total of eighteen.

Our disc golf obsession began there, searching through scratchy trees and wild shrubbery for hours to find our precious disc, just to toss it back into hiding a few minutes later. I remember that our first scores were around thirty over par on nine holes.

While playing we came across other enthusiasts who would point out that we might do better if we had certain discs, like mid-range discs, putters, overstable and understable drivers, etc. Well sure! No wonder we were struggling, right? So, the disc purchases began in earnest. Within a few months we’d gone from one lowly driver to a healthy collection of about sixty different discs. Sure enough, our scores improved and we found many reasons to try different discs in countless circumstances. Every time we encountered another unique challenge, we’d dig through our bags, pick a weapon, watch it fly off course, then declare in displeasure, “If I only had a fill-in-the-blank disc, then that throw would have gone much better.”

This is a very important revelation for anybody who wants to truly discover the joy that is disc golf. No matter your skill level. No matter how long you’ve been playing. You need to embrace the concept that your game could be better if you only had more discs. It excuses you of all weakness! It gives you endless hope! It gives you purpose! It makes you look like a real athlete as you haul a hundred pound bag of plastic discs around the course! The newbies with their single Frisbee will look at you in awe and ask, “How long have you been playing? You must be really good!”

You now have an excuse to stop and catch your breath after hiking up a hillside to the next tee, while you bend over to sort through thirty choices, flipping disc after disc around in your hand until you finally conclude, “Yep, this is the one.”

Every time a throw goes awry, you don’t need to worry about self-abasing things like error, or tiresome things like practice. Instead you can decide what your next purchase will be and how it will revolutionize your game. It is always the disc’s fault! Unless, of course, the throw went really well. Then it was all you, my friend. All you!

Never become content with just a few discs.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been playing with friends and have heard the face-saving words, “That such-and-such disc doesn’t fly like it is supposed to.” If it’s a new disc, then it isn’t quite what you wanted or intended when you bought it. If it’s an old disc, then it just doesn’t fly like it used to. Maybe it was bent when you hit that last tree?

Oh, I’ve also heard a few happy declarations of, “I love this disc!” after a surprisingly good throw, but that love doesn’t seem to last too long. Pretty soon that same disc is cursed as it flies off course into a creek, and its spot in the bag will soon be filled by another. You’re not a traitor. The disc is! It failed you!

That isn’t a bad thing. I mean, how many other things in your life can be discarded, abandoned, and replaced with such nonchalance? You can’t dump your career and get another every other week, or that car you have a love/hate relationship with, or that child who won’t clean her room, or any other number of things over which you have no control. But doggone it, you can ditch that pesky driver and get something a little lighter, or heavier, or perhaps a little more stable!

I have a very good friend who not only ditched his unfaithful discs, but he ditched entire brands! If one disc brand failed him after a week or two, he’d swap his entire bag out for a new brand. Then when that brand no longer did his bidding, he’d go to yet another. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that approach, as it can be the cause of financial stress to exile dozens of discs at a time, but my friend lives with the undying hope that his game will completely turn around once he finds that brand that was manufactured just for him. It’s like seeking that magical soulmate. You have to seriously date a few brands first before you pull out the ring and pop the question. He just wants to commit to the perfect disc mate. Other guys that play in the local league aren’t complaining. They’ve been able to buy the outcasts from the trunk of my friend’s car for bargain basement prices. See? It’s a win/win for everybody.

Coming Soon: Chapter 4 – Achieving True Disc Lust

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The DGA Pipline Precision Fairway Driver

The PIPELINE is the latest disc offering from DGA, a company that uses the slogan, “Simplify Your Game” as they’ve released some very player-friendly, easy-to-throw discs lately.  The SAIL was a recently released, understable distance driver that really flies well for beginners, as well as working wonderfully for anhyzer turns for experienced players. Now, as a compliment, the Pipeline comes into the mix as a slightly overstable fairway driver that likewise features great glide and predictable flight characteristics.

The flight numbers for the Pipeline are as follows:

 

  • Speed: 8.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: 0.0
  • Fade: 2.0

I decided to put those numbers and the disc’s “simplicity” to the test by taking a couple of experienced local players out to a couple of courses to play entire rounds using only the Pipeline. We started with a very easy nine-hole course that basically tests short drives, approaches, and putts. Of course, the Pipeline is not designed for putting, but we used it for everything. Basically, that first game was a game of ace-running, since the holes were all 150-200 feet, well within the range of a control driver like the Pipeline. We were surprised to find that we were overthrowing the target more often than expected because of the disc’s great glide.  For short shots, we really needed to pull back the throttle because the disc seems to fly further than the “speed 8” would suggest.  A newer players would find it easy to get this disc out onto the fairway.  But the disc definitely has that overstable fade at the end of the flight, so it turns early with softer, lower-speed throws. The fade is never overpowering– this is by no means a meat hook.  It’s a straight flyer with a moderate fade.

The Pipeline is also well-behaved when thrown in different ways. When thrown higher with a hyzer line, it takes a long, swooping flight that curves consistently, as you’d expect. When thrown with an anhyzer angle, it holds that line quite a while before fading back at the finish, or in some cases, just leveling and gently settling to the ground. All in all, the disc does what you want, with the exception of utility-disc style, extreme shots that only a specialty disc could make. For instance, you’re not going to get this thing to fall out of the sky quickly at a steep angle, since it loves to stay airborne as long as possible.

20160711_094824Addressing the issue of shot variety, the second course we played was a very technical course with blind shots, long shots, short shots, elevation changes, and fairways with many obstacles.  Such a course would really put the Pipeline to the test.  In general, we found that the Pipeline doesn’t always work wonderfully as a utility disc to get you out of a jam. There were times when one of the players really needed something that could be tomahawk thrown out of some trees, or thrown for very sharp S-curves, and a general purpose driver like the Pipeline wasn’t going to get the job done, but when it came to threading needles on straighter shots or pushing the distance on longer shots, the Pipeline was very compliant.

We found that the Pipeline could be thrown even with the kind of power used on a 10-12 speed disc and it would hold a line for a long time, rather than just flipping and crashing over to the understable side. A couple of those longer drives carried so far that the disc never actually faded before it hit the end of it’s flight by sliding into the grass or hitting trees at the end of the fairway. One shot was launched high, over the tops of some tall, mature trees to drop over the top onto a hidden basket, and it actually went really well, putting the player within putting range.  When it hit the high point and began to fall, it turned and glided steeply into the opening like a champ.  Another long, downhill drive looked like it was going to land well to the side of the basket, out of bounds, but the disc’s closing fade glided strongly and level enough to result in a great skip right back in-bounds for a birdie putt.

In conclusion, the Pipeline proved itself to be a very good general purpose driver, both for controlled short drives, as well as for longer power drives in the 200-300 foot range.  Though putting with a driver is not necessarily a good practice, I actually putted better at moderate distances with the Pipeline than I have with my putters lately.  The disc simply holds a line well, as long as you account for that finishing fade.

I’d compare the Pipeline to popular discs like the Innova TeeBird or the Discraft Undertaker, though faster than the first, slower than the second, and with a longer glide “hang time” than both.

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Discmania DDX – Better than the Destroyer

There is no arguing the popularity and massive success of the DESTROYER by Innova particularly in Star plastic. It is the top selling distance driver at pretty much any disc golf retailer, it is used regularly by professional players, and it continues to challenge (and often allude) the attempts of new players to make amazing shots like witnessed on Youtube.  It is a fabulous driver, but certainly not beginner friendly.  For Destroyer fans and disc enthusiasts, it is also accepted that different factory runs of Destroyers can also have varied flight characteristics. I have a coworker that enjoys handing a certain pink 154g Star Destroyer to friends just to see their reaction when it crashes to the ground early, since it is so much more overstable than his heavier Destroyers. So, it is not uncommon to see players with several Destroyers in their bag– each for a specific game situation.  Just watch Paul McBeth’s video about which discs are in his bag to see how he has at least a half dozen Destroyers, each with different flight characteristics for differing shots. Of course, for more casual players (not to mention non-sponsored) it can be an expensive and daunting venture to find the Destroyers that they want for their own style and their own needs. Imagine buying five or six supposedly identical discs with hopes to acquire one that flies how you want it to fly.  Or perhaps it is more an issue of “beating in” your discs until they finally behave how you want them to behave.

Now, let’s step back and take a look at another disc that has very similar flight ratings, and that might prove to be the Destroyer’s superior when it comes to predictability and consistent performance.

The DDX by Discmania is a 2016 disc release that arrived on the market with such anticipation, and was received so enthusiastically by players that supply ran out and the discs were very difficult to find for weeks at a time.  Looking at the reasons for such an astounding reception right out of the factory, one might deduce that the disc’s similarities to the Destroyer are key.  First of all, Discmania discs are manufactured in the USA by Innova. Thus, Discmania’s “S-Line” plastic is really just their equivalent of Innova’s “Star” plastic, coming from essentially the same source.  So picking up an S-Line DDX won’t feel radically different than the top-selling Destroyer.  Then, look at the dimensions and flight ratings for both discs, side-by-side:

DDx Dimensions:

  • Diameter: 21.1 cm
  • Height: 1.7 cm
  • Rim Depth: 1.1 cm
  • Rim Width: 2.3 cm
  • Max Weight: 175.00 g

Additional Information:

  • Speed: 12.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -1.0
  • Fade: 2.0
  • Primary Use: Distance Driver
  • Stability: Overstable

Destroyer Dimensions:

  • Diameter: 21.1 cm
  • Height: 1.4 cm
  • Rim Depth: 1.2 cm
  • Rim Width: 2.2 cm
  • Max Weight: 177.00 g

Additional Information:

  • Speed: 12.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -1.0
  • Fade: 3.0
  • Primary Use: Distance Driver
  • Stability: Overstable

You’ll notice that when it comes to dimensions, the DDX is a slightly taller disc than the Destroyer and it amounts to slightly more “glide”. The rim sizes are only marginally different. But the flight ratings are almost identical when it comes to stability, except that the DDX has less fade than a Destroyer (2 fade vs. 3 fade).  When it comes to fade, that is often where less experienced players feel like they get cheated. They bomb a distance driver out there and then cringe when it takes a sudden turn to the overstable side because they don’t have the sling-shot arm to keep the thing flying straight. Still, those differences are subtle, but enough that players looked at the DDX with the hope that it would actually be a more “user-friendly” version of the Destroyer…a disc that could glide a little longer and fade a little less while serving the same general purposes. Basically, it could be the common man’s Destroyer.  If your Destroyer flies like a meat hook, then the DDX could be your answer.

Now that the DDX has been flying through the air for a few weeks (at least for the lucky players who managed to get one before the shortage) how has it lived up to the hype and anticipation? As an intermediate player who loves discs that can offer predictable distance, I was one of many to jump on the DDX bandwagon, and I found that I was instantly a fan of the new disc.  It still has a solid fade, but without being punishing.  It can go the distance with a satisfyingly straight path before the fade, or it can make those pretty S-curves, or it can hyzer-bomb, all based upon your release. It feels, right out of the box, like the player is in control of the disc rather than the disc dictating how it wants to fly based on its seasoning or it’s manufacturing run. That’s not to disparage the Destroyer in general, but only to say that the DDX is a welcome relief to those of us who don’t necessarily want six different versions of the same disc on our bag.

So far, when it comes to the DDX, mission accomplished! They keep flying off the shelves and out of players’ bags on the disc golf course because now there seems to be a Destroyer for the rest of us. We can’t all be Paul McBeth, but we can throw a great, predictable distance driver. Let’s cross our fingers that the DDX stays this way. Solid, predictable, accessible, and possibly the better choice.

 

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