Great Understable Disc Golf Fairway Drivers

While the distance drivers tend to be the sports cars of any disc golfer’s bag, getting all the glory and most of the attention, the fairway or “control” drivers are often the actual workhorse discs that are used more often and with more precise results in actual game play.  Fairway drivers may not cover the most real estate in a single throw, but they often cover ground with more accuracy. They are better drivers for newer players, since it is easier to learn technique and guide a disc that isn’t built for maximum speed. With both new players and seasoned players in mind, lets look at some of the most popular understable fairway drivers in the market. But first, let’s take a quick look at the terminology and what it means when a disc is understable.

WHAT DOES UNDERSTABLE MEAN?

For those who are new to the game and unfamiliar with the terminology, “understable” is a word that is used to describe discs that are designed to resist the final fade more of their flight time. Understable discs are often favored by newer players because they can make up for some of the weakness in the throwing technique or lack of speed and stay in the air for longer. For seasoned players, understable discs are very useful for navigating tight fairways where a disc must be thrown more lightly, or for curving on an “anhyzer” flight path away from the disc’s nature fade.

If you are right-handed throwing backhand, then the natural disc fade at the end of flight is to your left. Switch that for left-handed throwers, where the disc’s natural fade is to the right. If you are right-handed throwing forehand (flick or sidearm) then the nature fade at end of flight is to the right. Switch that for left-handed throwers.

So, using the right-handed, backhand example, an understable disc will pull to the right and “away” from the fade for longer before fading at the end of flight. That fade can vary, based on the disc design, ranging from a significant end fade to hardly any fade. If released at an anhyzer angle where the outside edge of the disc is angled upward upon release, the understable disc will turn to the right and then follow a new course without coming back to the left.  (reverse direction for left-hand or forehand)

Though understable discs are helpful for newer players, for achieving easier distance, or for turning away from the fade, they can be “overpowered” if thrown too hard, in which case they can flip or pull to the understable side and go right into the ground before fading back, or before even getting airborne. So, if you find yourself overpowering an understable driver, then it is time to move to a more overstable disc with more fade.

WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN?

Many of the most popular disc brands use a 4-number system to shodw the flight path of their disc models. In very simple terms, these are what those numbers mean:

First number = Speed
Discs with a speed rating between 6 – 9 generally fall into the category of “fairway diver” though speed 9 discs can function as entry level distance drivers, and speed 6 is bordering on the mid-range category.

Second number = Glide
Discs with more glide tend to “float” a bit longer in the air before completing their journey. A disc with low glide simply slices through the air and needs momentum to keep it aloft.

Third number = Turn
This is the key number in determining if a disc is understable or not. If the number is negative, then the disc will pull away from the fade direction. The more negative the number, the more the disc pulls away from the fade direction.

Forth number = Fade
This number will tell you how dramatically or sharply the disc will fade at the end of its flight. The fade will never be negative (that defies the laws of physics) but can range from Zero (no fade) to higher numbers like three or four, which means the disc will want to fade earlier and more dramatically.

So, a typical understable fairway driver might have number like this:  7 / 5 / -3 / 2

If you take the third number (turn) and add it to the forth number (fade) and you come up with a negative total, then the disc is understable. The more negative, the more understable it is. Using the numbers above, you’d get the following: -3 (turn) + 2 (fade) = -1 (understable)

10 POPULAR UNDERSTABLE DISCS

LEOPARD by Innova

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

The Leopard is considered one of the quintessential drivers for beginners. It is slow enough at speed 6 to be handled by about anybody and with the understable turn and minimal fade, it is very easy to control and will help avoid a premature fade for new players.

ROADRUNNER by Innova

  • Speed: 9.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -4.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Roadrunner is one of the drivers that straddles the line between fairway and distance driver. Though it can be released at a higher speed for additional distance, that -4 turn is very understable, making the disc great for newer players, or it can be handy as a roller for experienced players.

SIDEWINDER by Innova

  • Speed: 9.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Sidewinder is a little bit less understable than the Roadrunner, and though the speed is rated similar, I would say that it handles better at a slower speed and fits even better as a driver for beginners, where the Roadrunner might be just a bit too understable.

MAUL by Latitude 64

  • Speed: 7.0
  • Glide: 7.0
  • Turn: -2.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Maul is a very good, general purpose understable fairway driver. At speed 7 it is completely manageable for most players. It has a slightly understable release and minimal fade, thus it can be used with great effect as a precision driver, no matter the skill level.

DIAMOND by Latitude 64

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

The Diamond was designed by Latitude 64 to be an ideal disc for both young players as well as many female disc golfers, not only because they tend to throw with less power, but also because of the smaller rim size which fits smaller hands. The speed and turn are very manageable and the Diamond is also popular as a utility disc for anhyzer throws.  The Diamond always comes in lighter weights as well.

HEAT by Discraft

  • Speed: 9.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

Though Discraft has avoided the use of the 4-number system that Innova introduced and that was adopted by nearly every other brand, the flight path can roughly put this in the border between fairway and distance driver, with an understable release and minimal fade. It is one of the most popular understable drivers by Discraft and comes recommended for players who want to work on their distance.

ARCHER by Discraft

  • Speed: 6.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Archer is one of the newer disc models by Discraft and is a crossover disc that straddles the area between mid-range and fairway driver. It has an understable flight pattern and low enough speed that it works great as a short-range, precision disc and would work well for beginners. It could work quite a bit like the Innova Leopard in terms of giving new players a place to start.

UNDERWORLD by Westside

  • Speed: 7.0
  • Glide: 6.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

The Underworld by Westside discs is yet another serviceable, understable fairway driver that has become a favorite for players who do not have a lot of throwing speed or power. It is one of the best discs from the Westside arsenal for easy throwing and understable flight.

WITNESS by Dynamic Discs

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

The Witness is a very good beginning level driver. At speed 8 it is a great way to work toward faster distance drivers.  It is also popular in Lucid Air plastic which adds bubbles to the rim to lessen the weight, making it great for young players as well.

F7 by Prodigy

  • Speed: 7.0
  • Glide: 5.0
  • Turn: -3.0
  • Fade: 1.0

Prodigy is very cryptic in their naming system for their discs. The “F” series is their lineup of fairway drivers (see where the F comes from?) and the numbers that follow the letter range from the number 1 being the most overstable, and the highest number being the most understable. Thus the F7 is the most understable of the Prodigy fairway drivers and is perfect for beginning to intermediate players.

Hopefully this helps you to understand where understable discs fit in the disc golf game and gives you a few options to get you started with understable fairway drivers. Whether a seasoned player needing a special utility disc, or a new player who wants something easier to throw for longer distances, these discs should fill that spot in your bag.