Disc golf jargon can often be confusing, especially if you’re new to the sport. Almost every week someone will ask me what a hyzer means, or what makes a disc “flippy.” This week I was asked by a player what I meant when I wrote “Utility disc” in the blog last week when describing a Discmania Tilt.
I use the phrase “Utility disc” pretty regularly, and I don’t know if I’ve explained what a “Utility disc” actually is or why I use/recommend them to players. So this week I figured we’d do a little dive into what it means, and what they are.
The first thing I think of when I hear the word “Utility” is of the belt worn by Batman. I think of those batarangs, the grappling gun, and a little green kryptonite. How he had something for every occasion in his belt. And that’s what you need for disc golf! You already have a putter for your 5-50 foot shots, but almost everything else is for a unique part of your game.
Utility discs are discs used for specific moments in the game. They’re not ones you’d generally use in a wide open field, or for putting, they’re discs that have a very explicit purpose.
For me, those discs are the ESP Meteor and the Star XCalibur. A very understable disc, and an incredibly overstable disc. They’re not pulled out on every shot, but when they are it’s because nothing else can do what they do.
The ESP Meteor is useful on holes where I turn over a shot and have it glide out. I can also throw very slow forehands with it and the disc will hyzer the whole way. This is the second longest tenured disc in my bag at around 8ish years. I’ve thrown it hundreds, maybe thousands of times. It’s not super straight anymore like it was when I first bought it.
My XCalibur came into my bag serendipitously. I really liked the Knight cartoon on the front of the Ellen Widboom signature disc. And in 2019 we had a lot of discs and not much space. It was the last of her signature discs so in order to free up the rack space I bought the last one. I threw it and was hooked instantly.
The disc became my headwind thrower, my reliable flex shot choice, and probably the best skip disc I can think of. It’s what I give people in lessons who tell me that they have arms that are too powerful and they flip everything.
How often do I throw these discs?
They’re not usually discs I throw if I can help it. I’m pretty proficient with them from years of practice. Make sure you’re throwing these when you do field work, just to remember their flight path. These are my go to discs to get out of trouble. Offering different flight paths than many of my usual discs.
Since we’re playing in the woods up in Maine, the Meteor gets a lot more play. I often find myself pinched off, throwing something high with glide on an impossible angle at a slow speed. That is the meteor special, it’s saved me dozens of strokes.
The XCalibur gets a lot less use, but anytime there’s a strong wind I reach for it without a second thought. It’s also my favorite skip disc, and if you play on our courses you know how we have chips around the basket. There’s nothing quite like skipping a high speed driver into the chains.
How can I find my own Utility discs? XCaliburs are hard to find right now.
Here’s the beauty of it, you may already own a utility disc and be ignoring it right now.
If you didn’t read the blog about bag stagnation that I wrote in 2020 it’s a good time to brush up. When you first started playing disc golf, did you by chance purchase a disc that was much too fast for you? Maybe a max weight champion destroyer?
That’s going to be your overstable get out of trouble, disc. I also recommend Innova Firebirds or another overstable high speed driver with a wide rim if you don’t have a Firebird.
For an understable disc you can always go down to a putter. James Conrad made unbelievable with the JK Aviar for a number of years before moving to MVP. Find a disc that’s understable and you can throw softly and still get it to turn. It could be your old starter set Shark, or something else that has some glide.
Utility discs are for those moments when you’re trapped. Your regular driver doesn’t make sense, your upshot disc won’t hit the gap or get the distance. When you’re off the fairway and scratching your head about how you’re going to save bogey. That’s when you pull out these discs to make weird and miraculous shots.
I keep the Tilt in the bag as well. Right now it’s too overstable for me to find a reliable use for, but I’m keeping it around to stop my discs from rocking back and forth in my bag every step. So I guess, even that disc is filling a utility position at the moment.
Do you have utility discs? Drop them in the comments below and let me know what you’re throwing. If you’re looking for utility discs you can always check out the links above. And don’t give up on a disc the first time you throw it because it has a wonky flight. It might just save your par one day.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397