“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear a man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” - Bruce Lee
This is something I think about frequently. As new discs are approved by the PDGA it becomes fashionable to have the newest disc in your bag. Everyone wants to know how (insert new disc) is throwing, compared to the flight numbers printed, and what else does it compare to?
But is it better for me to just stick to my Champ Wraith, Meteor, and D-Line P2’s?
These are discs that I’ve been throwing for years. To find out, I think we have to answer a few questions.
First things first though. This really only applies to people who are playing to lower their scores. New discs are fun and I enjoy throwing them when they come out. It helps me to explain to players who want to know if the new disc is worth trying out for their game.
Why are discs created?
To sell, and make money. That’s the primary objective of the manufacturers. If they make a good disc I spend my money on it so I can throw better. They’re always incentivized to put out a great product.
Every company is out there trying to create discs that appeal to the masses, and can be used by plenty of players. Some discs hit it out of the park (Buzzz, Destroyer, Aviar, etc…) and others fail to reach their target audience. Failures end up “OOP” or Out Of Production. Sometimes a disc is successful for years and then it goes OOP when something new is created that performs its intended function better.
There are exceptions to discs being easy to use, sometimes a disc is created that is wildly different, like the Tilt from Discmania. It was a hype machine and everyone wanted to try it. It sold without being able to be used by most people.
Why are new discs being made?
Excellent question! Short answer: There’s money to be made from established companies with a loyal base, and for newer companies who want to hit that home run with their first disc.
We’ve got new companies trying to break into the market every year. When I first started chucking plastic in summer 2010 there were only a handful of disc golf companies to choose from.
Some big names weren’t even around yet.
Prodigy started in 2013.
Dynamic Discs made their first disc in 2012.
Westside Discs made their first disc in Dec 2009.
Those are companies that we couldn’t imagine the sport without right now. You probably throw one of their discs or know someone who does. And you can probably name some big pros who throw for them.
There are 164 companies with disc golf discs approved by the PDGA. By 2023 I bet there’s a handful more. I check Kickstarter regularly for Dungeons & Dragons books, but also for new disc campaigns. It’s a little different, and the risk isn’t as much on the new company. They take your money and then produce the disc(s). I like this strategy for smaller brands. But you’d never catch me giving Innova 50 dollars for a disc they’re producing 6 months from now.
Is there better technology for making discs?
I don’t know about the process developing discs, that’s something guarded secretly by every company. The beveled edge transformed the sport. That was a big innovation back in the 80’s. Now we’re seeing how variances of .1cm affect the stability of discs.
Look at the Bullfrog versus the Invader.
Invader from Innova Champion Discs
The Invader was made a year and a half after the Bullfrog. It’s .1cm taller, .2cm deeper, and the rim depth is .1cm deeper. They’re both flat top, beaded putters. I just held both of them in my hands and swapped them around with my eyes closed. I couldn’t tell which was which.
But, as someone who has thrown both I can say that the Invader is slightly better for me. I imagine that my issue of overpowering the Bullfrog at 225+ feet was a common one for longer arms. The added stability by making it a little bit taller. Now I don’t turn over the Invader when I throw it.
There might be another reason for new discs.
I don’t have any data for the next claim I’m going to make, which is something I try to stay away from. But here goes.
Maybe disc golf companies haven't realized that men and women have different hand sizes. Disc golf is a sport that doesn’t list physical stats of players. Even though I think it would be kind of cool to know wingspan, height, and hand size.
One thing I encourage in my lessons is to find a disc golfer who looks like you on the DGPT. Watch how they throw and see if you can learn something.
I’m 5’11” and 218 pounds. I shouldn’t try to throw like Big Jerm who is lankier and taller than me by 6+ inches. That’s why I’m a big fan of watching someone with a more compact frame like Avery Jenkins or Nate Doss.
Back to hand size. If the average male hand is 12% larger it’s going to lead to different needs from players. Imagine making the rim on your putter 12% thicker, it would be super weird! I often hear or read “it feels good in the hand” about discs.
My hands are 7.75” and slightly larger than average but 0.15 inches different isn’t much. My coworker's hand size is 5.75”! Her hands are 35% shorter in length than mine. How are we supposed to use the same discs? I then measured the rest of the office, the other two people were 7” and 7.75”. Different hand sizes mean we all grip differently.
Now we know why companies make new discs. Money, make discs for the masses, and with increased interest in the sport from women hopefully discs with them in mind.
Back to using new discs vs. your trusted molds.
*Spoiler alert, it’s going to come down to practice*
If you play 4 rounds per week (208 rounds per year, which would put you in the top 16% of disc golfers) and throw your driver off the tee, then your upshot with your mid, then putt with your putter you’re making about 11,232 throws per year. If you make 3,744 throws with your driver each year how much practice would you need to be as good with a new driver?
When I do driver practice it’s not for very long. I throw maybe 40-50 throws, and certainly not at full power. Let’s say 50 throws, and say I practice once per week on my field work. That’s 2,600 throws with my new driver. Or I’d throw 3,744 with my new disc.
What if you only play 3 days per week? Suddenly you’re down to 2,808 throws with your current driver.
The more molds you throw, the more work you have to put into practicing them.
If you’re throwing 10 different molds, say 4 drivers, 2 fairway drivers, 3 mids, and 1 putter. You’re going to have lots of different things to practice. That’s a lot to learn and master, and we all know that your two distance drivers of the same mold throw slightly differently.
If you throw 2 drivers, 2 fairways, 2 mids and 1 putter, you’re throwing 30% fewer molds and can spend more time on those discs. You can get a little bit better with your putter or your distance driver.
What’s the verdict?
If you’re throwing regularly with your discs then to achieve a lower score it’s probably better to stick with them. If you’re doing field work, putting practice, and warming up. Working new discs into your bag will benefit you. Don’t get stuck with bag stagnation.
I don’t like to take out newer discs for rated rounds. I want something I’m confident in when it comes to that. But if I’m playing a casual round and I’ve been working on a new disc in my field work, I’ll definitely bring it.
If you’re not doing any field work, you’re going to struggle with a new disc and score worse.
If you do field work, it will probably improve your game to include a new mold in your bag as long as you’re working on it.
Do you carry many molds or just a few? Pros tend to carry at least 8 molds (from their in the bag videos). How many are in your bag that you can name without looking?
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397