There’s so many great fairway drivers out there. It’s not like in 2000 when you had three choices, Eagle, Leopard, or Teebird. Those three discs all came out in ‘99 by the way. That might have to be dubbed the year of the fairway driver.
The fairway driver game is pretty important to how you play if you’re looking to improve your scores on your favorite courses. Throwing a distance driver 225 feet is easy (for me), but it’s not very consistent. You have to flex it on a big anhyzer angle to keep it straight when it lands, and thrown flat it’s not going to get up to speed so you may have a long fade and when it lands on the side it’s going to roll.
Those 250-350 foot shots are perfect for a fairway driver.
I ignored that part of my game for a long time and tries to muscle up on mids and putters. It’s doable, but then I was throwing my Sky God quite hard and occasionally I would have really bad (but powerful) throws.
Fairway drivers are typically described as speed 6-8. Once you get to 9 speed discs I think you’re starting to see more utility than anything else. But I am going to include one 9 speed disc, because I think it doesn’t require a 9 speed arm to get the job done. These are fairway drivers I’m using to get accurate distance with, and looking for a specific shot shape.
I’ve had experience with all of these discs. As you progress through the sport of disc golf you go from disc to disc looking for new things. There’s a garage full of overstable discs that I was trying when I was in my early 20’s. I didn’t fully appreciate throwing things that didn’t hyzer.
Let’s start with understable discs, since many folks are looking for a little extra flip. The first thing I look for in a fairway driver that turns is for it to have some glide. I want to throw them flat and have them flip over for me, then ride that anhyzer line for a majority of the flight. Most of these discs do that. The Leopard, IT, and Cheetah are always going to do that for me. It’s what I enjoy about throwing them. If you want something that you don’t have to throw hard these are great choices to get turn in a driver.
The Leopard3 is a special case for me. I grabbed it initially because it fit my hand very well. You know the second you grab a disc off the rack and you know that you’re going to like it?
I hated it.
I threw it in DX, Star, and Champion blend plastic. None of them worked for me because they were all too understable. But then I saw a 2021 Ohn Scoggins Halo Leopard3 and the stamp was too cool not to buy. So I got it and threw it and was instantly locked in. It had all of that turn but I could put a move on it and it wouldn’t flip at 350 feet.
The Archangel and Mantra are very unique discs for understable fairways. These two are probably the most understable you can throw. Before I developed a forehand I was throwing the Archangel because it would go hard right. I was throwing it nose up and still getting turn out of it. At this time it only comes in DX plastic, so if that’s not your thing I get it. It’s still a great disc that I like to fool around with on big sky anhyzers or for very low but fast hyzer flips that end up turning.
The Mantra has become my hyzer flip in the woods disc the last few weeks. It’s very easy to flip up and over at 200 feet. The Mantra is the 9 speed that I think is very throwable by newer players and is a great way to get your feet wet in the ThoughtSpace Athletics lineup if you haven’t tried their discs yet. I thought they were initially too flippy for me, but after hyzer flipping them in the woods a few times I’m very sold on this disc.
Understable Fairway Drivers
Stable Fairways are discs that fly like longer stable mids. That’s how I almost always refer to them when I write up the descriptions on the Sabattus website. I put value in these discs because they hold and hold and hold that power without flipping over. Thrown at the same speed they offer more distance without the possibility of cranking a disc over
The TL3 is the straightest far flying disc I’ve ever thrown. I often compare it to a Mako3 but flying further and with less glide. The Hawkeye is relatively new to the disc golf world, it came out this year. I like it because it’s a high glide disc, so I get more fade than I would out of a TL3 with a similar flight. It’s much better when I’m looking for something to keep fading at the end of the flight.
The FD kind of falls under that straight flying far disc. I immediately snagged two of the retooled ones the day they came out. I like how much air they have under them, which feels weird to say until you throw one. They have a little lift to them. I think the TL3 is point, shoot, hit the target. The FD is more point, shoot, glide through the target. It’s great at getting somewhere as long as you account for the extra glide and fade. It’s more of a distance disc than the TL3 is.
The Essence is still stable despite the early turn, and sometimes that’s what I’m looking for to get around a tree. I don’t have to put any anhyzer on it to do it like I would with the rest of these discs.
The TL is a classic. It’s point and shoot straight and it has a bit more glide than the TL3. I like flatter top discs which is why I prefer the TL3 to the TL, but if you want something with a little dome it’s an excellent straight shot disc.
Stable Fairway Drivers
Overstable discs are perfect for when I want the flight of a distance driver but I don’t want the distance. I can throw a long shot with my Synapse, but sometimes I don’t want to throw as hard as I can for a 330 foot shot. Then there’s the overstable approach disc which has taken over the game in a great way. You see players of all skill levels throwing Zones, Pigs, Harps, Caimans, Gators, and anything that kind of dumps with no glide. But they only go so far. There’s a middle ground, and it’s the overstable fairway driver. You can throw it flat, and not have to kill the disc to get it not to dump. That’s why I love the overstable fairway driver. It’s going to have that same dump but with more glide than the approach.
Give me a Votum for those 300 foot shots when I want a stock hyzer. It’s one of those discs that I threw and instantly loved. Flat shots, lots of glide, and it always hooks at the end of my throw. It’s a backhand disc for me.
The Eagle is a disc that took me a long time to figure out. I was getting away with bad backhand form because I could throw far. But this disc would pop up on me and I was skying it. Then I saw Gregg Barsby throw it and I realized I was trying to kill this disc and throw it as hard as possible. Throwing the disc smooth was more important than trying to outmuscle an overstable disc. So I stopped trying to kill it and threw it on gentle forehands. I passed it on to my brother because he was better than me with it, but it’s a great forehand players disc.
The Teebird has the dome that the other two discs here do not. I think of it as a much longer Roc3/MD3/Pathfinder. The Teebird is one of the first discs I encourage people to throw after they outgrow their starter pack. It’s straight with a lot of fade at the end and glide. So it’s a great way to get that long distance driver flight path but shorter.
You do need a fairway driver in the bag, whether you play in the woods or wide open fields. Just like a golfer has different clubs in their bag for different lengths, we have different discs in our bags for lengths.
These are some of my favorite discs. When I’m on an unfamiliar course and I need something that travels 303 feet I’m very happy to pick up my Leopard3 and throw it down the tunnel with confidence. On hole 4 of the Hawk course I’m happy throwing my Votum right out over that rock because I know it’s going to fly 335 for me and hook left at the end. Take the frustration out of trying to throw soft distance shots or over exerting yourself with midrange discs.
I hope that this comparison blog can give you a little insight into some discs if you haven’t had the chance to throw them yet. If you’re in the area come into the shop and I’d love to talk Fairways with you. And let me know what fairway discs should exist, I’m always looking for new and fun shot shapes to try in the woods.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397