I’ve always had a love for Discraft discs, possibly because they were the very first discs I purchased and explored when I started playing disc golf. They were the discs that I bought without knowing much about what I was looking for in a disc, so I learned their differences and tendencies mostly through trial and error. I’ve helped a lot of new players through the last few years learn how to play disc golf, primarily with Discraft discs. I feel quite confident about which ones will meet the challenges most commonly faced by new players, and which ones won’t.
I’ve since added some great discs to my arsenal from other manufacturers, but there are always some Discraft discs that work their way into every round I play. For the experienced players out there, this article may not be as useful, but I hope that some of the newer players who are only recently discovering the joys of disc golf will find it helpful.
Common Mistakes of New Players
One of the first mistakes of new disc golf players is when they base their disc choices on things that are not very helpful to their game in the early stages. For example, when I was a new player I used a flight chart to make some poor choices because nobody explained to me that discs don’t necessarily follow a designed path if you don’t know how to throw them correctly. For example, I was struggling with distance, like most new players do, so I looked for a disc that was the biggest bomber I could spot on the chart. I picked up a Nuke disc and thought my game would jump to a whole new level because I finally had a long-distance driver. However, once I threw that disc, I found that it fell over much faster, and at a much shorter distance than the other discs I’d been throwing. I figured I must have purchased a dud. I achieved less distance than before! The disc wasn’t a dud. Nukes are great, but not for somebody who hasn’t yet learned how to throw, and who doesn’t have the technique or experience to really sling it as fast as is must travel to stay airborne.
New players often select discs which are the “prettiest” on the shelf. Yes, there is something to be said for very attractive plastics and shiny, unique stamp designs. But that doesn’t make the disc necessarily a good choice for a beginner. Another deciding factor for many new players is the disc price. If you’re the type of person who looks for the highest price so that you’ll own “only the best”, then it might actually work against you. The high price (just like the pretty artwork) isn’t going to make it fly right if you don’t yet have the proper technique. However, if you’re somebody who likes saving money, then your choice in picking up the less expensive plastics, like the Pro-D discs by Discraft, may just work in your favor.
Why start with Pro-D, or Elite X plastics when buying Discraft?
Just a quick note– these are plastic types, not disc types. Each disc is made in more than one kind of plastic, and those plastics vary in price and in their flight tendencies. Pro-D is the cheapest, and least durable, while Elite X is a step up, and other plastics like Elite Z or Titanium represent the most expensive, durable side of the spectrum. Why would I ask you to start with the cheap stuff? Well, quite frankly, you’re going to beat these things up, and often the cheaper plastics fly a little easier with weaker, less experienced arms. Think of it as that $150 guitar, made-in-China, that you buy when you’re learning to play, before you drop $1200 on a really nice instrument. Think of it as that old pick-up truck you learn to drive before you spend the big bucks on a real nice machine. Trust me…you are going to love these things, and then you’re going to leave them.
The very first disc that I purchased was a Discraft XL in Pro-D plastic, and I threw it for the first time on a very rugged course. It flew only a short distance and crashed into the rocks of a dry creek bed. When I picked it up, I noticed that it already had a prominent gash on the edge. “What a cheap, worthless frisbee,” I complained. But I kept throwing it. At least it hadn’t cost me $18 like some of the pretty ones I’d looked at. I still own that disc today as a keepsake.
So, don’t worry about the cheap price. I’m not trying to lead you astray. You can move on to the pretty stuff later. Some of Discraft’s Pro-D plastic discs actually have a different, straighter flight path rating than their more durable, expensive counterparts. I was attracted to the Pro-D XL not only because it was cheap, but because it has a Discraft stability rating of “0”. That means that it is not designed to fade quickly. I throw with my right arm, almost entirely backhand. That means that as a beginner, pretty much everything I threw fell quickly to my left. A left-handed player throwing backhand would see a fade to the right. Those directions switch for forehand throwers. So, a stability rating of zero means that the disc is intended and designed to fly straight.
Of course, the disc will still drop to one side or the other depending on your release. One of the first things you must learn is how to release the disc flat so that the disc flies as intended. If you release it with your wrist cocked one direction or the other, then your release will change the flight path. But how will you know if it is your release, or the disc that is causing the resulting turns, unless you throw a disc that is not meant to turn? That is why I recommend a zero, or a disc with a very slight turn rating. Get that thing to fly straight for a while before you start worrying about which discs will do which tricks. If you were to start with something like a Flick, a Drone, or a Predator, then you will not know when you’ve learned to throw straight because you’ll be fighting against the disc’s designed tendency to turn sharply. You shouldn’t have to fight the disc as you’re learning to throw correctly.
A Pro-D XL is a good starter as far as distance drivers are concerned. Others would include the Pro-D Avenger SS, or in Elite X plastic you could do well with an XPress or Status which are both understable and will resist that natural fade (a real plus for beginners). Also, an XS in Elite X will give you a little fade after allowing some nice distance first. All of those are good drivers to get you going, though none of them are designed for maximum distance– a good thing when you’re a beginner. In fact, many players argue that the best discs for beginners are actually midrange discs rather than distance drivers.
Discraft Midrange Discs
Discraft is very well known for their midrange discs. These are discs that are designed for shorter drives, or for approaches to the basket. They are not built for distance, but for predictable, shorter flight paths. The edge grip also feels more natural to early players who may only be accustomed to traditional frisbees. One of the best-selling midrange discs for several years is the Buzzz. Even better for beginners is the Buzzz SS which again has a stability rating of zero. The Comet is also a good one, and in the harder plastic still has a stability rating of zero. The Meteor is understable which again helps compensate for the natural turn tendencies in newer players. Picking up one or two of any of those three midrange discs will do wonders in developing your short game, which is much more important in the initial learning stages than throwing the length of a football field. What good is a long throw if it is headed in the wrong direction?
Once you’ve developed your throwing technique enough to be the master of the cheap, straight-flying discs that I’ve recommended here, then you can graduate into discs that have highter turn/stability ratings that will help you steer around obstacles and fly in beautiful S-curves. For example, the Pro-D XL has a turn rating of zero, but once you get that thing to fly right, you’ll be ready to graduate to an Elite Z XL which actually has a stability rating of 1.5. The Avenger SS will move from a .5 rating up to 1.0 and higher as you move to more durable plastics. But by then, you’ll be able to keep those discs flying longer before they finally fade, because you’ll have the release and the experience to do so. I still use discs like the XL, XS, and Buzzz in my bag, but all in durable Elite Z plastic. I also have other great Discraft discs like a Nuke, Nuke SS, Predator, Drone, and Surge. I know exactly when to use them, because I know how they’ll fly if I set them free with just the right touch. I’ve graduated to the more expensive discs, because now they work with me, instead of making things seem more difficult.
In conclusion, when starting your game, don’t be tricked into thinking you can buy some high-priced, high-rated secret weapon that will take away the learning curve. Go ahead and get the cheap stuff so you can work out the basics. The learning curve for disc golf is very short anyway, so within a few games, you’ll be controlling those cheap discs and you’ll be able to enjoy each game until those discs are dented, dirtied, and loved. Then retire them and move on. Other manufacturers have similar, less expensive plastics that are also great for beginners. Innova has DX plastic that is great for a starter. My focus here has been on Discraft, but we can look at other brands in the future and learn which discs are best for the beginning player.