Knowing the performance of different discs depending on their characteristics will help you to play at your best. One of those characteristics is the weight of the disc, and each weight class has it’s pros and cons. If you’re trying to get more distance, it’s important to know if heavier or lighter discs fly farther. Let’s answer that now.
Do Heavier or Lighter Discs Fly Farther?
It depends on the situation. In general, lighter discs fly farther than heavier discs, but heavier discs may fly farther in a headwind due to their greater stability. A safe bet for the average player is to throw discs weighing around 160-165 grams for best distance.
In the Wind?
While it is true that lighter discs tend to fly farther than heavier discs, you need to be cautious on windy days. The lighter you go, the more understable the disc becomes. So if you’re throwing on a windy day, a heavier disc will most likely be a better disc for a distance shot because it’s less likely a heavier, more stable disc will be blown off course.
Heavier discs are more stable and so they can take higher speeds and still retain their stability. This means that a heavier disc will be better than its lighter counterpart in a headwind (when on high speed). Because of this, they can achieve more distance when the wind is coming at you due to their stability.
In a tailwind situation, lighter discs will always prevail over heavier discs due to their susceptibility to being affected by the wind. The wind will actually push a lighter disc down the course farther than it would a heavier disc. It implies that it’s better to use a lighter disc in tailwind situations.
However, this is all based on the average player and how much power they can put into their throw. A professional player with a lot of power may need the extra weight and stability of a heavier disc in order to handle the amount of speed they can produce.
In contrast, the average recreational player can’t bring as much power into their throw. Given that a lighter disc does not need much power to attain an adequate launch speed, players with lower arm speed and shorter arms will achieve farther distance with lighter discs.
This is why I recommend a mid weight disc for most average players who want to throw for max distance. The weight is high enough to retain much of the stability of the disc, while also light enough to benefit from higher glide potential.
When to throw a Lighter Disc
Beginners should almost always use light to mid weight drivers when throwing for distance. As a beginner, you’ll get better glide out a lighter disc because you aren’t able to put as much arm speed into the throw as someone with more experience.
In situations where the wind is not coming towards you but from behind you, you may want to consider a lighter disc. The wind will help push the disc along down the course, adding extra distance.
Throwing a shot uphill (an upshot) is quite different from throwing on flat grounds. Upshots can be a great time to use a lighter disc as tend to stay aloft longer than heavier discs. The exception here is if it’s a windy day. Because you’re throwing up hill, the nose of the disc is up, and will more easily catch the wind. If it’s windy, you’ll want to throw a heavier disc in this situation.
When to throw a Heavier Disc
The last thing you want to throw when the wind is coming directly at you is a lightweight disc. You need a stable disc in situations like this to ensure your throws are accurate. Whenever the wind is coming towards you, heavy discs are the more stable choice. They can resist, to a large extent, the force of the wind, which makes them a much better selection in a headwind.
If you’re very skilled, and you can throw at high speeds, consider a heavier disc which can handle that sort of power.
Throwing a heavy putter in the range of 173 to 175 grams is favorable. Heavy putters usually have an excellent fade and tend to have very reliable glide.
What are the Best Disc Weights for Starters?
Most beginner to intermediate level players are advised to start playing disc golf with mid weight drivers that weigh around 160-170 grams. Professional players can make use of both lightweight and heavyweight drivers and tailor their selection to the situation at hand.
In most cases, mid-range discs weigh beyond 175 grams. The difference is basically due to the nature of their rims. Lightweight (<175g) mid-range discs are a perfect option for beginners. Experts can use mid-range discs weighing up to 180g.
Like drivers and mid-ranges, there are also lightweight and heavyweight putters.
Light putters weigh around 170 grams on average, and heavyweight putters usually range from 173 to 175 grams on average.
It is important to note that players have their unique arm speeds.
Guidelines For Disc Weights and Throwing Farther
Here are some general guidelines when it comes to disc weights for different types of discs. Keep in mind that as a general rule of thumb, lighter discs appear to be slightly more understable and heavier discs are usually slightly more overstable. So if you love one of your discs, but you wish it were just slightly more overstable. Go get one that’s a little bit heavier. And vice versa for understable.
The distance that a disc golfer can cover with his throws depends primarily on three things.
- The weight of the disc
- The direction of the wind
- The golfer’s level of skill (good form, power, speed, etc)
Beginners can make use of lighter discs to achieve longer glide time and thus more distance.
Although disc manufacturers make heavier disc weights, the PDGA technical standard is a maximum of 200 grams.
Most discs you’ll find in stores weigh in the range of 160 and 175 grams.
Disc weights that weigh more than 200 grams can only be used in events that are not PGDA related.
Drivers under 170 grams are perfect for beginners. We recommend 160-165 for best glide time.
How to Determine Disc Weights?
It is no news that the weight of the disc you use will affect your golfing experience. Whether as a beginner or an expert, you should check for a disc’s weight before making a buying decision.
In most cases, you should always be able to find the weight of a given disc on it’s bottom side.
It is possible to see some disc manufacturers indicating the disc weight on the disc mold. I tend to trust those written underneath because manufacturers who indicate the disc weight in written format give more accuracy in disc weight figures than the others, from my experience.
Lighter Discs are Faster in Air than Heavier Discs
One of the most important factors in a long distance throw is the speed of the disc as it flight through the air. One of the key factors to good speed is how fast the disc is spinning.
From experience, heavier discs require more power to keep them spinning. It’s challenging to maintain the desired speed using a heavy disc. Doing this will require an extra bit of skill. If you’ve thrown heavier discs before, this will be familiar to you.
All of that just means that it’s easier to put spin on a lighter disc. This spin will help to keep the disc aloft and give it longer glide.
In most cases, achieving a more extended flight will automatically add up to a farther throw. Disc flight, disc speed (and distance coverage) are mainly dependent on disc spin. More extended flight and farther distance are what you get using a lighter disc weight.
The bottom line is that for all levels of skill, light discs are easy to use and easier to achieve high spin for greater distance. This may also mean that those who benefit the most from using lighter discs are beginners who may not have the best technique yet.
Heavier Discs are More Stable in Air Than Lighter Discs
Take, for example, throwing up dust particles and throwing up a heavy stone. You might notice that the dust sits in the air longer and may sway back and forth due to changes in the wind. The wind in this example has a much greater impact on the movement of the suspended dust particles than the heavy stone. You could say that the heavy stone is more stable in air than the dust particles.
The same rules apply for discs and their corresponding weights. Like the stone, a heavier disc will be less affected by the wind while a lighter disc will act more like the dust particles and be more easily affected by the wind.
This is one reason why professional golfers with high arm speed will always benefit from the use of heavier discs that can handle higher air speeds.
What Weight Disc Golf Discs Should I Throw for Distance?
Beginners should consider lighter to mid weight discs, while more skilled players should consider mid weight to heavy discs.
The best advice I can give however is to play what works for you. Everything listed above is only my experience and what I’ve learned along the way. These are good guidelines but rules are meant to be broken. Grab a few different weights and throw them around. See what works for you and what you like.
It’s best to have a range of different weights in different discs. The best case scenario is to try throwing the same disc in two different weights and feel the difference. You’ll probably find that one weight flies better for you than the other.
This is one of those situations where you just have to throw it and see if it flies =)