Today, we begin the first round in our final quadrant of the bracket–the Aviar region. This is the Disc Golf Reviewer World Series of Putters, which is a project where every day I test two putter molds against each other on the putting green in a head-to-head competition and then post about my experience and the results. Today’s match is super juicy as we are featuring the 1 seed Innova Aviar going up against the 16 seed DGA Steady.
The Aviar is the flagship putter of the Innova Champion Discs’ lineup. It is consistently one of the top sellers every year, and due to Innova’s popularity and distribution channels, it is often one of the very first discs that beginner disc golfers purchase as they are getting into the sport (The first putter I ever purchased was a DX Aviar from a local sporting goods store).
The Aviar is a moderately tall putter with a beadless rim. It flies straight and stable with a very soft fade at the end of the flight. The Aviar was first PDGA approved almost 40 years ago. It was a revolutionary disc that to this day is the standard when it comes to modern disc golf putter design.
For today’s match I used the most common Aviar in the world–the DX Aviar Putt and Approach. DX is the least expensive plastic blend Innova offers, and it is a traditional putter blend that is grippy and moderately soft.
Disc Golf Association (DGA) has been molding discs since the sport began, and in 2015 they released a putter named after their founder and the father of disc golf, “Steady” Ed Headrick.
The Steady is a tall putter with a big bead around the bottom of the rim. It features a straight and “steady” flight path that is slightly overstable at the end of the flight. The disc’s shape and bead are reminiscent of the Gateway Wizard or even the Innova Big Bead Aviar.
The DGA D-Line Steady is what I used for today’s testing and match. DGA’s D-Line is also a more affordable base traditional putter plastic blend. It is a touch softer and more flexible than Innova’s DX, but other than that, they feel quite similar to each other.
Specifications and Flight Numbers
Let’s take a look at some of the specs courtesy of the PDGA and break down some of the similarities and differences between these two putter molds.
Flight Numbers: 2/3/0/1
Flight Numbers: 2/3/0/2
Max Weight: 176.0gr
Rim Depth: 1.5cm
Rim Thickness: 0.9cm
Inside Rim Diameter: 19.4cm
Rim Depth / Diameter Ratio: 7.1%
Rim Configuration: 55.75
Max Weight: 176.0gr
Rim Depth: 1.4cm
Rim Thickness: 1.0cm
Inside Rim Diameter: 19.3cm
Rim Depth / Diameter Ratio: 6.6%
Rim Configuration: 56.00
What makes this match so intriguing to me is the history wrapped up in it. “Steady” Ed Headrick and Innova founder and CEO Dave Dunipace were longtime competitors on the disc golf course as well as in business. Their two companies don’t get a chance to go head-to-head that often these days, but this putter matchup today echoes back into disc golf history in a small way.
As for the actual discs, they are quite similar across the board on the specs. They are also similar in shape and feel except for the Steady having a bead and the Aviar not having one.
The Steady’s bead is pretty big as well. I’m not sure if it technically is the biggest bead we will be testing in the World Series of Putters, but it has to be close. While there might be concern about how a big bead might feel when gripping the putter, I actually thought it felt very comfortable in the hand. In fact, an opinion I’ve surprisingly developed during this project is that a big bead is preferable to a smaller bead or a microbead. The smaller beads I think are more prone to get caught on the fingertip or to feel a little sharp or uncomfortable while gripping.
The bead is also what give the Steady a stronger fade, at the end of the flight. I noticed this a bit on the longer putts, but I thought that both of these discs flew with pretty much the same stability on the putting green. For the most part, this was one of those matches where I was able to throw the discs exactly the same as I switched between them during the match.
I conducted today’s match on a beautiful morning at a local disc golf course on a permanent Innova Discatcher basket. After warming up with both discs, a coin flip determined that the DGA Steady would go first on the first set of putts. Here is how it all played out:
(1) Aviar Scorecard
(16) Steady Scorecard
20ft: Y Y Y Y N Y Y N Y Y (8/10 putts made)=24 points
20ft: N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y (9/10)=27 points
30ft: N Y N Y Y N N N N N (3/10)=12 points
30ft: N Y Y N Y N N N Y N (4/10)=16 points
40ft: Y Y Y N N N N N Y N (4/10)=20 points
40ft: N N N Y N N N N Y Y (3/10)=15 points
Total: 56 points
Total: 58 points
Apparently, we saved the biggest upset for last as the only 16 seed to make it out of the first round does so today on the last putt of the match. The 16 seed DGA Steady eliminates the 1 seed Innova Aviar with a score of 58-56.
Notes from the Match
This is exactly the kind of upset I said to expect at the beginning of this project, as it is an exact example of the difference between our seeding system and a sports playoff seeding system. Top seeds aren’t inherently better putters than the lower seeds in the Disc Golf Reviewer World Series of Putters, they are just better sellers and more popular. There are fantastic putters on the market that often get overlooked, and the DGA Steady is one of those discs.
That being said, the Steady had to hit 5 out of its 6 final putts to pull off the win, and the Aviar just barely missed its final putt to seal the loss.
As I mentioned above, I was able to throw these two discs very similarly throughout the match. And while the difference on the scoreboard was just one additional made 20ft putt by the DGA Steady, I do think I found myself preferring the Steady as the match unfolded. I think it had a touch more glide, and I liked the feel of the beaded rim more than the beadless rim on the Aviar. I think the bead matched up with the height and thickness of the rim just right in my hand.
However, I also preferred the Innova DX plastic blend over the DGA D-Line plastic because it’s not quite as flexible. The DGA D-Line isn’t gummy at all, but just a bit too flexy for my preferences. I don’t have much experience with DGA’s plastic blends, but I’d imagine I’d prefer a ProSeries or a Stone Steady.
This is a match that definitely could have gone either way, but I was also won over by the Steady, and I think it has a decent chance to have a decent run in the rest of the tournament.
Like I mentioned above, I found myself preferring the DGA Steady as the match went on, but I also would not hesitate to recommend the Aviar. It has dominated the putting putter market for 30 years for a good reason. But also, don’t overlook the DGA Steady just because it doesn’t have the big-name recognition or sales numbers of other putters.
Though the Steady hasn’t garnered that much traction since its release in 2015, it is a great putter, and it will be moving on to the second round. The Steady will face the winner of tomorrow’s match in the Aviar Region between the 8 seed Penny Putter and the 9 seed Discmania Link. Be sure to come back tomorrow to get those results!