A General Guide to Disc Selection
Scan any disc golf related message board and you’ll find it, probably multiple times, the most common questions from beginners and experienced players alike: how many discs is too many? Well, here is the only truly correct answer to that question: I don’t know.
That’s right, there really is no ideal number of discs to carry. There are players who have won world championships with no more that 4-5 discs in their bag, and there are plenty of champion golfers who will carry 20+ discs on a given round. But that’s not to say there isn’t room for advice on how to evaluate your discs and your game to determine what is the ideal number for you.
The first step is to establish some basic categories of discs/shots as they relate to the disc golf course. For the purposes of this article, there will be four basic universal categories to work with: putting, fairway approaches/short drives, control drives, and maximum distance drives. Sub-categorization is certainly acceptable and sometimes necessary, and is really where individual preferences and variations come in to play.
This is a fairly self-explanatory category covering all shots within 50 feet of the basket. Generally only one disc is necessary to cover all the bases in this category, although some players will carry two putters for a variety of reasons. One such reason is to always have a newer, less broken in putter specifically for head-wind putts (added stability) or longer putts (a truer fade for hyzer flight lines). Another reason is to just have a back-up for cases of a lost or broken disc.
Fairway Approaches / Short Drives
This, as with each other category other than putting, is very subjective as far as the distances used to describe it. For any given individual, these distance ranges will vary. For the purposes of this article, we’ll define this category as 50 feet from the basket out to about 200 feet. The types of discs that fit this category will also vary, as some players can and do use a putter to fill this category while most find that a mid-range or multi-purpose disc fits the bill nicely.
Also, in this category and for the others beyond it, sub-categorization can come into play. In general terms, one ideally wants a disc they can throw for shots they need to turn or finish to the left, a disc that flies and finishes relatively straight, and a disc that will turn or finish to the right. How many discs are required to fill all those needs once again depends on the individual player.
For example, if a player has equal confidence in his/her backhand and his/her sidearm shots, then one disc can be enough to cover left and right turning shots simply by switching to the appropriate throwing style. On the other hand, someone who relies pre-dominantly on one particular throwing style may require different discs to accomplish different shots.
For the purposes of this article, this category will be defined as shots ranging from 200 feet to about 300 feet from the basket. And, as in the previous category, the types of discs that can fit this category will vary from player to player. Some will choose a mid-range or multi-purpose disc while most will select a fairway or distance driver.
The important thing to remember for selecting discs in this category is that the discs do not necessarily need to be the longest or fastest flying discs available to be the correct choice. Choosing accuracy and control over speed and distance is the best way not only to put together a balanced bag, but also to play a consistent game on the course. A control driver is a disc you want to go to and know that it will go right where you want it to go in order to set yourself up for a good subsequent shot.
Maximum Distance Drives
In what may be considered by some to be a sacrilegious statement, this category is perhaps the least important and least necessary of the four categories listed here. It encompasses any shots of 300 feet or more, but as always, this number will vary from player to player. This would generally be the spot for the latest and greatest distance driver, especially if you are the type that likes to always have the new big thing in your bag.
More often than not, only one or two discs are necessary to fill this role in a given round, and their use would be limited to the number of relatively open and long (300+) shots there are on the course. Use is limited because generally the longer the shot is, the less precise the final result will be.