Is Light Plastic for Me?

by RJ

     Let me start this article by stating I am not a professional disc golfer.  I have 0 career wins, my highest rated round is just over 800 (unofficially, because I don’t even have a PDGA number), in fact I typically compete in MA 3 when I do play in tournaments.  Furthermore I’ve only been playing consistently for about 2 years and consider it a good day when I’m only a couple over par.  So after this intro you might ask “Why are you of all people writing a disc golf article and why should I care what you say?”  Let me answer the first question simply by saying because I’m a beginner, I love disc golf, I have a platform, and I want to share my experiences and opinions. As to why you should care what I have to say, you’ll just have to read on and decide if my opinion is applicable to you.  If your name is Paul McBeth or Ricky Wysocki or Paige Pierce or really any pro or high level amateur, this article might not be for you. But, if you’re a beginner or someone with a slow arm speed, maybe you’ll find something useful in this article.

      Now that you know my credentials let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this article.  Mainly, should you consider throwing lighter weight plastics?  The short answer is “maybe”.  There’s a couple of pros that I’ll start by talking about.  Then we’ll get into a couple of negatives of lightweight discs.  Finally I’ll discuss my own experience with light weight discs.

Let’s start with the good things.  For slower arm speeds light weight discs can help a disc golfer get the disc to behave properly.  Additionally the lighter weight can help achieve further distance due to proper flight path.  Finally lighter weight discs can be used to throw a disc at a speed that a person might not have the arm for typically.  I’ll discuss an example of this later in the article.

     So if you can get more distance and some better flight paths why wouldn’t everyone that plays throw 155g plastic. The short answer is there are two big drawbacks.  First, bigger arm speeds will find that lighter discs may become too understable.  Additionally light discs are especially susceptible to getting blown around in the wind.  An example of this is when strong winds kept me from throwing my favorite disc in my first ever tournament. Finally for faster arms heavy and light weight discs have negligible effect on distance unless perfect conditions are present.

     If you want more of the physics and science behind light discs I’d recommend the video at the bottom of the article put out by Dynamic Discs. If you want more anecdotal evidence let’s talk about my real life experience.  My very first discs were a classic soft Judge and a Lucid Air Escape from a Dynamic Discs two-disc challenge.  When I first started throwing that Escape I found that I could get more distance because it wasn’t hyzering out on me as quickly. As I acquired more discs and practiced more I found that I was able to better control it and keep it in a straighter path.  Now as I’ve thrown it more and expanded my disc selection I still find myself using it as my favorite fairway driver.  As my understanding and ability to throw it has grown I’ve found it is my go to in light wind to shred courses. I’m able to control it to hit any number of lines in a way that I can’t even for my normal Lucid Escape.

     Since I’ve become such a big fan of the Lucid Air Escape I’ve recently started to look for a replacement when it invariably ends up in a pond.  A disc I’ve found quite similar to it is the standard Jade by Latitude 64. This is in my bag as a 157 g disc, about the weight of my Air Escape.  It has a similar flight pattern and because it is in a “standard” plastic is easier to find in stores.  I haven’t thrown it enough or gotten it beat in enough to feel as comfortable throwing it as my Air Escape but I’m certainly looking forward to throwing it as the weather warms up.

     Another disc I’ve found in Lucid Air Plastic is the Dynamic Discs Trespass.  I typically feel comfortable throwing a 9 speed disc while the Trespass is a 12 Speed.  I started throwing a Trespass when it came in one of my wife’s starter sets and I liked the feel but wanted to try something a little more my speed.  When I found the Air version I jumped on it.  While it’s still a little fast for my arm, the lighter weight allows me to throw it with more control. These are the main light weight discs that I have in my bag however I’d love to get my hands on a lighter weight Emac Truth.  My friends with higher speeds love it for its straight flight but I typically use it more for its overstable finish.  Perhaps I’d like it even more in a light weight plastic?

     Lightweight plastics aren’t for everyone.  Big arm speeds and people who play on windy courses may find the discs aren’t stable enough for them.  But for beginners the light weight discs can help increase control and distance. So the next time you see a lightweight disc consider giving it a try.  It might just be the workhorse disc to do the heavy lifting in your bag.

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