Best Disc Golf Discs for Beginners (2016)

Are you new to the game of disc golf, or are you bringing a friend or family member to the course who hasn’t played before? Though the game of disc golf has a very fast learning curve and new players can quickly feel adequate, it certainly helps to put the right kinds of discs into the hands of new players to avoid unnecessary frustration.  Unlike other sports where one ball is pretty much like another, disc golf discs can have huge variation in design and purpose, which can often leave a new player wondering where to start. With the wrong discs, the game can seem difficult to pick up. But with the right discs, new players can quickly work on their technique without the discs causing an unexpected disadvantage.

The first little piece of information to keep in mind is that disc weight matters. Most new players will benefit from a lighter weight disc, unless they are athletic from the start and throwing comes naturally. This is especially true with women and youth. But what is a heavy disc? What is a light disc?

20160615_092001Discs are weighed in grams. When you look at discs in the shop, or online at places like Infinite Discs, you will see that the weight is listed for each disc. That weight is usually marked on the back of each disc. When I was a new player, I completely ignored those numbers, feeling it must not be important. But it is!  If you’re looking at discs that are 170g and up, they are usually considered heavier discs or “max weight”. The larger the diameter of the disc, the heavier they can be and still be PDGA approved for the game. Thus, mid-range discs or oversized discs can be as heavy as 180g and up. A good intermediate range is 150g – 169g. The lower weights in the 130g – 149g range are considered very light, but there are more and more discs being produced in that range now.  Innova even makes some of their popular drivers like the DX Leopard and DX Valkyrie  in weights as low as 110g which is actually perfect for young children who want to give the game a try.

When you’re a new player, you’ll be able to throw lighter weight discs further than the heavy ones. The heavy discs might fade sooner than you want because you don’t yet have the technique and power to make them go the distance. The closer you are to your target, the less the weight matters, so light weight mid-range discs are not quite as important as light weight drivers. Light weight putters are hardly necessary.

Another very important element in beginner-friendly discs is the stability rating. A beginner generally is favored by “understable” discs rather than “overstable” discs. Here is an easy way to remember what understable and overstable means: If you are right-handed, and throwing backhand, and you’re lining up sideways to throw at the target, then the disc will naturally want to fade to the left. That is the overstable side– the side that you are facing. The right side, or the side behind you is the “understable” side. If you’re throwing left-handed and backhand, then reverse those sides. If you’re throwing forehand, then reverse them again. A right-handed forehand throw will want to fade to the right, which is then the overstable side. The left-handed forehand throw will want to fade to the left which is now the overstable side.  Basically, discs naturally fade to the overstable side.

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An overstable disc will exaggerate the natural fade of the disc. That is rough on beginners because a they generally have a hard time throwing a disc straight until they become better at a flat, powerful release. They will usually throw the disc so that is fades sooner than desired, so an overstable disc exaggerates that weakness. Throwing an understable disc will “fight the fade” longer, pulling to the understable side before finally fading, giving the new player more distance. When looking at the 4-number disc flight ratings, the last two numbers are important. These are the four numbers usually displayed:

Speed
Glide
Turn
Fade

The “turn” number should be in the negatives for an understable disc. The Fade will almost always be positive, because discs naturally fade to the overstable side. But the less fade, the better for beginners.  When the last two numbers add up to a zero sum, or a negative sum, then the disc is more forgiving to beginners.  For example, a Turn -2, Fade 1, is understable (-2 + 1 = -1).  A disc with the last two numbers of -3 and 1 would be even more understable (-3 + 1 = -2). A disc with the last two numbers of -2 and 2 means it should fly generally straight because the sum is zero. That is a simplified way to judge the understable vs. overstable flight ratings on a disc.

With all of that being said, let’s take a look at ten discs that are friendly for beginners. Check out their flight ratings, and use those numbers as a guide to help you explore even more discs that would work for novice players or for those who are struggling to find more distance in their game.

ONYX by Vibram

  • Speed: 8.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

As you can see by the flight rating, this is an understable disc, with a turn of -3 and a fade of 1. But the other fun thing about the Onyx is that it is made only in lighter weights. Generally the weight ranges from 135g – 155g. This disc was designed with beginners in mind. I’ve seen new players throw the Onyx further than anything else they’ve tried. I’ve also seen women celebrate the fact that they finally don’t feel completely outgunned by their male counterparts. Once they stop throwing those heavy discs and start throwing an Onyx, things seem to go better for them. The Onyx is a bit more expensive than some other brands, because Vibram makes discs out of rubber, rather than plastic. But it is worth the price because rubber can take a beating and doesn’t wear out or get scraped up like plastic.

DIAMOND by Latitude 64

  • Speed: 8.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Diamond is a wonderful driver for beginners, especially when purchased in the Opto Air plastic, which is very light weight. Opto Air Diamond discs are generally in the high 130g range. But you can also find Diamonds in other plastic types in the 150g – 169g range which is still very workable for new players.  The Diamond is also very popular with women players, and it is part of a line of discs by Latitude 64 with these players in mind.

PEARL by Latitude 64

  • Speed: 5.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -4.0
  • Fade: 1.0

Since you don’t only need drivers, and midrange discs are a big part of the game, here is a nice Pearl to go with your Diamond. The Pearl is light weight for a midrange, and pleasantly understable. I’ve seen it used by beginning players as a driver while they are learning control and throwing technique.

 

PROOF by Dynamic Discs

  • Speed: 5.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Proof is a new mid-range by Dynamic Discs that is designed for the beginner. Again, it is understable enough to be very forgiving for the beginning player, and another nice feature is the price when purchased in affordable Prime plastic. The cheaper plastics are fine for beginners. It allows you to learn and get a feel for which discs you like the most before spending twice as much on premium plastics.

 

AVENGER SS by Discraft

  • Speed: 10.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Avenger SS was the “super straight” version of the popular Avenger distance driver by Discraft. When I was a new player, it was the first driver with which I was able to get any meaningful distance. When purchased in Pro-D plastic it is also very affordable and can be found in light weights in the 150g – 169g range. I ended up loving my Pro-D Avenger SS so much that I eventually bought a more durable version in Titanium plastic that lasted for years and still sits among my disc treasures.

SAIL by DGA

  • Speed: 11.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Sail is a disc that I have seen revolutionize the game for some players. Once I had a husband/wife team come into the shop and I recommended the Sail for the woman who felt like she could never keep up with her enthusiastic husband on the fairway.  She returned three days later only to say “thank you!” For the first time, she was able to match her husband’s distance, simply because she picked up a disc that was understable and has a wonderful glide for great distance.  The Sail is a “speed 11” disc so it does take a little more power to get greater distances, but it is a wonderful distance driver once you get the throwing motion down. I also have a friend who went through shoulder surgery and was not able to throw at full strength for a while, but he was able to match his old distances by simply throwing a Sail instead of the old, overstable drivers he’d used before the injury.  It is also a disc that I still use regularly in my own bag. Since I do not throw forehand, I use it for long-distance anhyzer shots to make my right-hand turns. I can get it to turn and fly quite a distance before it even tries to fade. So even for experienced players, the Sail can be a great utility disc.

AQUARIUS by Millenium

  • Speed: 10.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -4.0
  • Fade: 2.0

Not only does the Aquarius fly wonderfully for newer players, being an easy to control distance driver, but it also caters to the fears of many new players…water hazards!  The Aquarius is made out of a buoyant plastic that floats in water. So, if your throw goes astray and you splash into that pond or lake, the disc will float, making it easier to find and retrieve. The plastic is also light weight, and that is a plus for beginners.

 

LEOPARD by Innova

  • Speed: 6.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -2.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Leopard is a standard for beginners and is a popular disc in many of Innova’s starter sets. It is a disc that is very easy to control. Though it is not built for great distances, it can be very accurate for shorter drives, and that is helpful when working on form and technique. The Leopard in DX plastic is the most affordable, and the best for beginners. There are even DX Leopards in weights as light as 110g for children who want to give disc golf a try. That’s probably too light for any adult player, but great for the little tykes!

STRATUS by Discraft

  • Speed: 5.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

Like the Leopard, the Stratus is an easy to control disc for shorter drives and the feel of the rim and the disc lends itself well to players who are accustomed to traditional frisbees. It is easy to throw and doesn’t need a lot of power to get the job done.  Again, the Stratus can also be a nice utility disc for anhyzer turns to the understable side when used by experienced players. So, it can keep working for players even after their driving skills increase.

MAMBA by Innova

  • Speed: 11.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -5.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Mamba is one of Innova’s most understable distance drivers. If you’re a new or experienced player that has trouble getting a flat release, this disc is so understable that it often pops right up and flies great. It is a higher speed disc, which can be troublesome for beginners who don’t have a lot of power, but once you get the release down, you’ll find that the Mamba is very forgiving. It is a nice step up from some of the slower drivers, yet still workable for the developing player.

Now that you know what to look for when selecting discs for beginning players, you can browse websites or store shelves and look at those disc flight ratings and make a good choice.  Generally speaking, don’t get the very high-speed drivers for beginners (I wouldn’t recommend the 12-15 speed discs for new players). Then remember to pay attention to the turn (negative for understable) and fade.

You can use a tool like the Disc Comparison Matrix on Infinite Discs’s website to look at discs with different speeds and levels of stability.  You can also use the Advanced Disc Search feature and check-mark the Flight Rating box to pull up a search feature that allows you to type in the flight ratings you want. You’ll get a list of discs that match.

Have fun out there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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