How many discs do you need for disc golf?

Piles of hundreds of disc golf discs

Much of a player’s performance in disc golf revolves around the selection of discs, an aspect as crucial as selecting golf clubs in traditional golf. Not only does the number of discs one carries matter, but the types of discs are also vitally important. The variety of discs in a player’s bag can dramatically affect their game, influencing their approach on the course and the strategies they employ. Technically, you can play with just a single disc, but part of what makes disc golf so enjoyable is exploring the flight of different discs and finding those that perform a unique and important role for you.

This post provides tips and insights on determining the appropriate number and types of discs to have in your disc golf bag and collection, emphasizing the importance of personal preference, skill level, and course characteristics, as well as practical tips for other discs you might want in unique circumstances.

Determining the number of discs one needs for disc golf can be influenced by factors such as skill level, the types of courses they commonly play, and their personal throwing style. It’s not about having many discs, but about having the right discs that suit your game style and provide a strategic advantage on the course. For instance, a player with a very big arm might benefit from having a wider selection of distance drivers in their collection. On the other hand, a player who excels in precise, short-range throws may find a greater number of mid-range discs and putters of a variety of stabilities to be more beneficial.

Starting Out: How Many Discs for Beginners

3 disc SetFor beginners starting out in disc golf,  three discs: a driver, a mid-range, and a putter is usually sufficient. These three types of discs are akin to the driver, iron, and putter in traditional golf, each serving a unique purpose on the course. For instance, the driver, designed for maximum distance, is typically used for the initial throw off the tee. The mid-range disc, known for its balance between distance and accuracy, is ideal for intermediate throws and approach shots. Lastly, the putter disc, characterized by its stability and control, is used for finishing the hole and making precise shots close to the target.

For new players, starting with a starter pack can be a great way to familiarize themselves with the sport and its equipment. These packs usually include a variety of discs suitable for beginners, providing a hands-on introduction to the different disc types and their applications. For example, a starter pack might include an understable driver, a stable mid-range, and a reliable putter, offering new players a chance to experiment with different throws and understand the unique flight characteristics of each disc type. As beginners progress in their skills and knowledge of the game, they can then expand their disc collection to include more specialized discs that cater to more distance as well as their play style and preferences.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect is mastering the basic skills and understanding how your discs fly. Until you grasp the flight characteristics of a disc and its behavior when you throw it, there’s little reason to add more discs to your arsenal. It’s essential to first master the ones you already have. Regular practice helps new players gain familiarity with the flight patterns of their chosen discs and develop a consistent throwing technique. A beginner who consistently practices with a specific driver disc will understand how it behaves under different throwing power, angles, and wind conditions, enabling them to learn what additional shot types they need for the shot selections they face on the course.

Once a player has progressed beyond beginner status and understands different disc flight paths, how many discs do intermediate players need?

Number of Discs for Intermediate and Advanced Players

Determining the number of discs to carry in your disc golf bag involves several considerations. One of the most crucial factors is personal preference. For me, I primarily use some discs just for forehand throws and others just for backhand throws which increases the number of discs I “need.” Many players have similar results for all shot types and can use the same discs for both backhand and forehand throws – thus they do not require as many different disc molds. Some players don’t throw forehand at all and so need a bigger selection of “very understable” discs in order to make throws that require a sidearm line.

Some players might prefer having a wide variety of discs to choose from for different shot situations, while others might prefer a more minimalist approach, focusing on mastering a few key discs. For instance, a player who enjoys experimenting with different throwing techniques and strategies might appreciate a larger selection of discs, while a player who values consistency and simplicity might prefer sticking to a few tried-and-true discs.

Another important consideration is the player’s skill level. Beginners might find it beneficial to start with a smaller collection of discs, allowing them to focus on mastering the basics without getting overwhelmed by too many options. As they gain experience and refine their skills, they can then gradually expand their disc collection to include more specialized discs. For instance, a beginner might start with a basic set of a driver, mid-range, and putter. As they progress and develop a reliable forehand throw, they might add a few overstable discs to their collection, which are well-suited for forehand throws due to their predictable fade at the end of the flight.Possible discs to add to the bag

The characteristics of the courses you play are also a significant factor. If you frequently play on long, open courses, you might need a larger number of drivers in your bag to cover the greater distances. Conversely, if the courses you play are densely wooded with many obstacles, you might benefit from having a greater number of mid-range discs and putters, which offer more control and accuracy for navigating tight fairways. For example, a player who often plays on a course with a lot of elevation changes and windy conditions might find it beneficial to carry more overstable discs, which are more resistant to the wind and can handle the downhill throws better.

Lastly, trial and error plays a significant role in determining the right number of discs for an individual’s play style. Every player is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. By testing out different discs and observing how they perform in various conditions, players can gain valuable insights into what works best for them. This process of experimentation and self-discovery is one of the most enjoyable aspects of disc golf, allowing players to continuously learn, grow, and refine their game.

How Many Discs do You Need to Perform Every Shot?

8 Discs.

Okay, it’s not really that simple, but in my “minimal” bag I have eight discs that are able to handle almost every shot I am faced with. Are there other discs that would be better for certain shots, yes, but the discs in my minimalistic bag can “adequately” handle every shot on the course to give me a remote chance of birdie and keep me out of trouble. However, with only eight discs if I lose one, I’m in trouble and there is now a significant hole in my bag.

Eight Essential Disc Types Needed for “Every Shot”

In my opinion, these are the eight essential disc  types needed.Minimalist Disc Golf Bag

  1. Putting Putter – A consistent putting putter that you are confident with is a very important disc for reducing strokes on the course. When using a minimal bag, it’s also nice to have a putting putter that you’re also confident throwing on those straight line glide shots. My personal putter of choice at the moment is the Infinite Discs Alpaca.
  2. Stable/Overstable Approach Disc – Having a consistently stable approach disc is vital for achieving consistency in your game. A disc that performs well for both backhand and forehand shots, exhibiting a controlled slow-speed approach flight without turning over, is crucial for reliably landing near the basket. This strategy ensures you have shorter, more manageable putts for par. My current favorite disc for this slot is the Clash Discs Mint. With a good stable approach disc like the mint, I’m able to get by with only one midrange disc in my minimalist bag.
  3. Straight Flying Neutral Midrange – A midrange disc that maintains a dead straight trajectory when thrown flat, yet possesses the versatility to turn left or right based on the release angle, is essential for shots that fall between putter and driver distances. Currently, my go-to for such straight-flying midrange shots is the Doomsday Discs Flat Earth.
  4. Straight Flying Fairway Driver – For those moments when you require a bit more distance and stability than a midrange can offer, a slow-speed yet straight fairway driver becomes essential. The Infinite Discs Centurion is my favorite for this role. It’s a disc that I’m comfortable using for both forehand and backhand throws. When I keep it low and throw with sufficient spin, it delivers a beautifully straight flight path.
  5. Stable Flying Fairway Driver – When you’re aiming for distance coupled with a consistent and reliable fade, a stable to slightly overstable fairway driver is the go-to choice. In my current lineup, the disc that perfectly fits this role is the Finish Line Era. It offers the ideal balance of distance capability and dependable fading action.
  6. Understable Distance Driver for Maximum Distance -Since I naturally release with a hyzer angle, achieving maximum distance for me necessitates an understable distance driver. This driver must possess sufficient stability to prevent excessive flipping, yet have enough high-speed turn to veer right, allowing a full flight for maximum distance. The disc that fulfills these requirements in my bag is the Divergent Discs Lawin.
  7. Stable Driver for Good Distance and Consistency -When I apply too much power to the Lawin, face a headwind, or release it at an incorrect angle, it tends to be too flippy. This is why I require a distance driver with a tad more stability. For this purpose, I opt for the Infinite Discs Pharaoh. With this disc, I can still achieve impressive distances, particularly when I throw it with substantial force. Unlike the Lawin, the Pharaoh maintains its course without veering off too much, even under intense power.
  8. Overstable Driver – On most disc golf courses, there are shots where a hard fade in one direction or the other is essential. For these scenarios, having a very overstable driver is key to achieving consistent results. Very overstable drivers not only facilitate hard fades but also enable unique flight paths, creating flex angles where the disc turns in one direction initially and then in the opposite direction towards the end of its flight, a maneuver that other discs cannot replicate. For these types of shots, the MVP Tesla stands out as one of my favorite overstable drivers. Others I have used in the past include the Innova Firebird, Discraft Flick, and Infinite Discs Scepter.

When it comes to playing a big tournament or going on a road trip where I will play multiple courses then really I personally prefer to have 30+ discs with even more stability options and backups of the “key discs”.

More Disc Types that everyone NEEDS for Tournament Play

Super Soft Stay Put Disc – Playing on hilly terrains, particularly when baskets are situated on slopes, necessitates an ultra-softFlexible Stay put disc disc that minimizes the risk of skipping or rolling away – a real stroke saver. These discs are also incredibly useful for island holes and greens surrounded by out-of-bounds areas. For such challenging shots, I find myself frequently relying on the Divergent Discs Alpas and Golem, both of which excel in providing the control and stability needed in these situations.

It’s Okay to Lose Discs – Difficult disc golf courses have a variety of different traps including water hazards, ponds, rivers, or even cliffs or ultra thick vegetation where if you have a bad throw, you’re likely to lose your disc. Having good discs that you know and will know how they will fly, but that you can afford to lose is crucial for these type of holes when you have to throw over or near such hazards. Personally, I love Divergent Discs for these shots. These are among the most affordable discs on the market and so are really easy to replace. You don’t feel nearly as bad when you lose an inexpensive disc as your prized go to.  It’s good to have a variety of different throw away discs of various speeds and stabilities for when you’re playing these courses, but it’s most important to have distance drivers you can trust as these are the most likely type you will use. I find that I rarely ever lose my “okay to lose discs” because I have so much confidence with them but no fear of what would happen if I make a bad throw.

Ridiculously Understable Drivers – My proficiency with very understable discs has enabled me to secure numerous birdies that elude other players. These discs are particularly effective in high elevation settings, where discs tend to be more understable, as well as in uphill throws that require a nose-up angle, and in situations with extreme tailwinds. A straightforward strategy to obtain more understable versions of a disc is to opt for a lighter weight, especially when it comes to discs that you already favor. This approach can significantly enhance your ability to maneuver the disc under these specific conditions, giving you a competitive edge in securing those elusive birdies.

Very Overstable Midrange – A very overstable midrange stands as one of the most consistent discs in the game, particularly excelling in approach shots and in playing under high wind conditions. While the market offers a variety of such discs, my personal favorite is the Dynamic Discs Justice. This disc was a game-changer from the first time I tried it, offering a level of control and predictability that significantly enhanced my gameplay in various challenging conditions. Its performance in wind and its reliability for precise approaches make it an indispensable part of my disc golf arsenal.

Very Understable Midrange – A very understable midrange is a disc that may not see frequent use, but in the right circumstances, it becomes an invaluable tool for saving strokes. There are certain shots where a forehand throw isn’t feasible, yet you need the disc to finish to the right. In these specific scenarios, the only viable option is a very understable midrange or putter. Such discs are uniquely capable of achieving this particular flight path, making them essential for navigating these challenging shots effectively.

Distance Drivers of Lots of Different Stabilities – When it comes to distance drivers and power throws, even a slight change in wind conditions can affect whether your disc turns over. In my tournament bag, I carry six different Pharaohs, each with varying stabilities. I select one based on the wind conditions, the elevation of the shot, and the degree of turn I need to achieve.

Straight Flying Approach Discs – Until recently, I couldn’t throw deep rim putters and so needed a different approach disc for my straight line upshots. A lot of the time you have a tree line or other obstacles in your way and your approach shot needs to be dead straight, right up the gut. The Infinite Discs Tomb is my dead straight approach shot for right up the gut. For lower power shots that I don’t want to fade I like the Kon Tiki.

The Importance of Backup Discs

In disc golf, the term “backup discs” refers to duplicates of discs that a player already carries in their bag. Because the disc is both the club and the ball backups are very important for competitive play. These backup discs play a crucial role in maintaining the continuity of a player’s game, serving as replacements for lost or excessively worn discs during a round. For instance, if a player loses their favorite driver in a water hazard, the availability of a backup allows them to continue their game without any major disruptions.

The role of backup discs extends beyond merely replacing lost or damaged discs. They also allow players to practice with their favorite discs without worrying about wearing them out before a tournament or a crucial game and allow them to get more reps in with the same mold. For instance, if a player has a specific putter they rely on for their finishing shots, having a backup allows them to practice extensively with a duplicate, preserving the condition of their game-day disc. This not only ensures that their key discs are in optimal condition for important games but also allows them to gain valuable practice and consistency with their throws.

The number of backup discs a player should have can depend on their frequency of play and how critical certain discs are to their game. For casual players who play less frequently or are still exploring different discs, fewer backup discs are necessary. However, for serious players who go to a multi day tournament with lots of water hazards, having multiple backups is very beneficial.

Disc Golf Basket located in a likely to lose a disc spot

Understanding Different Disc Types and Their Purposes

Disc golf involves a variety of discs, each designed for a specific purpose and possessing unique flight characteristics. Understanding these disc types and their purposes is crucial for any player looking to enhance their game and build a comprehensive disc collection. The three main types of discs are drivers, mid-range discs, and putters, each designed for different shot situations on the course. For example, drivers are designed for maximum distance and are typically used for the initial throw off the tee. Mid-range discs, on the other hand, are designed for control and accuracy, making them ideal for intermediate throws. Lastly, putters are designed for stability and precision, making them perfect for finishing the hole.

In addition to these broad categories, each disc also has specific flight characteristics determined by its design and material. These characteristics are represented by the flight ratings system, which consists of four numbers indicating the disc’s speed, glide, turn, and fade. For instance, a disc with a high speed rating is designed for greater distance, while a disc with a high glide rating is designed to stay in the air longer. The turn and fade ratings indicate the disc’s tendencies to curve left or right at the beginning and end of its flight, respectively. By understanding these ratings and how they influence a disc’s flight, players can make informed decisions about which discs to use for specific shot situations, enhancing their strategic approach to the game.

Furthermore, it’s also important to consider the disc’s stability, which refers to its behavior during flight. Stable discs tend to fly straight, while understable discs turn to the right, and overstable discs fade to the left (for a right-handed, backhand throw). Understanding the stability of different discs can help players select the right disc for different wind conditions and throwing techniques. For instance, overstable discs are generally more resistant to wind and are often used for forehand throws, while understable discs are typically easier to throw for beginners and are ideal for anhyzer throws or long, straight throws.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a limit on the number of discs you can have for PDGA tournaments?

A lot of new disc golfers ask this because in traditional golf, players are limited to fourteen golf clubs in their bag.

In disc golf, the disc is both the ball and the club. In golf there is no limit to the number of balls you can carry because you are bound to lose a few. This case is also true for disc golf. I once went to a disc golf tournament on an ultra windy day at the Mulligans disc golf course (it’s a ball golf disc golf course that was used as part of the 2021 disc golf World Championships). There are tons of water hazards on this course. One kid literally lost every disc in his bag during the round.
Because there is no limit for the number of discs a player can use during tournaments, many disc golfers choose to use disc golf carts with a capacity of holding 40+ discs.

How Many Discs do Pros Carry

Most pros carry between 20-30 discs for every tournament round. Surprisingly, some pros only throw five or six different molds. However, they often have multiples of each mold that are beat into different stabilities to perform a variety of different shots.  Because they are so consistent and can often power their way over obstacles they primarily rely on overstable discs for consistent hyzer shots. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have this kind of power and so must rely on more shot shaping to execute the shots we like.