Updated: Jun 24
Flight Ratings mean diddly squat. Yes, I know I just covered the subject in depth last week - but it's true! The variance between manufacturers, and reviewers, and the effect of different weights and plastics makes Flight Ratings only a general guide as to how any disc will fly.
How a disc flies for you right now, at this point in time is the only thing with meaning. This week Vortica addresses the tricky subject of DISCrimination, and how we sometimes get stuck thinking in ways we perhaps shouldn’t.
Case in point, just last week, my very good and old friend Greg Marter (because he’s good, and we’re old :P) who is now Mr. Innova in Berlin, came to visit for the first time in many years.
Greg and I played a lot of disc golf back before NZ’s first official course in Queenstown Gardens got a full set of baskets. Both of us were seriously hooked on the game, him in ‘87 and me two years later. That’s a quite lot of water and many burned bridges ago!
Anyway, as he was going through my pile of backups and odds and ends, he pulled out a disc, and said, “Wow, you’re lucky!” Quite sometime before, I'd found a disc in a swamp. It was, I thought, “some insanely flippy, super-fast, not very pretty, blizzardy Innova thing”. I didn’t bother to throw it, because it was filthy. I took it home, cleaned it, and chucked it in a box, thinking I’d give it to any local lady who started throwing long. One day. sigh
Anyway, it turns out what I found was a bright yellow blank Bubble Top Boss, at 154 grams. I’d never bothered to weigh it either. :P
He couldn’t believe I hadn’t thrown it and found it to be the longest disc I’d ever thrown. Because I’m not an Innova Guy, I just wasn’t interested in this inkless blank blizzard. I had my 155 gram VIP Air King, straight from Feldberg’s hands to mine – what else did I need?
Anyway, I did take this Bubble Top thing out, and gave it a good old thrashing, and found it to be utterly superb, and it’s going in the bag. It’ll join my other Innova discs; a bright yellow BIG\*JERM stamped 170 gram 12x Champion TeeBird, and sometimes a bright pink 167 gram First Run Champion Mamba.
It’s not even like I avoid Innova or anything – hell, I even sing the praises of many of their moulds. So, why didn’t I pick up this disc and give it a few throws? I always say that I am a disc golf slut and that I will throw anyone’s discs – so what was the problem?
Prejudice I guess, and precious little else.
I thought that lightweight blizzard discs were all ultra-flippy, and only suitable for people with 60 metres of power, or 200 metres of power. Or for 50-kilogram weaklings. But that disc flies so far it’s crazy. It’ll have to be pried from my cold, dead hands.
Jumping to conclusions and leaping to assumptions is a poor way to exercise.
I was wrong. Stupid and wrong. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last, I’m sure.
BUT – in this area I have now thoroughly learned my lesson: I will throw any disc anyone ever puts in my hands, and throw it a few times before I pass any kind of judgement.
I am a slow learner it seems because this is now the third time I’ve done something similar. When the Lat64 Saint first came out, I grabbed a gorgeous deep red Gold Line Saint at 173 grams, and for me at the time it was actually pretty stable and would barely ever turn over. The way it shone purest gold in the sun, was stunning, and the way it glided on a hyzer line was amazing. (See below. Isn't she a beauty?)
Gradually it beat in just a little, but as a Gold Line disc this took about 2 years, and I retired it from my bag as I do when discs age. The Saint had been getting hard to control as my arm speed improved. But I didn’t get a new one, and disced up a bit.
Earlier this year I pulled it out, and thought, “You know what? I reckon I’ve got a ton more airspeed and nose angle control than when I was flying this last time – I think this might be a good disc again.” And sure enough – it is. It flies totally different for me now – and although I wouldn’t use it into a headwind, it’s an understable fairway driver with awesome glide.
And, late last year I pulled out a lovely, brand new swirly green FAF Gold Line Jesper Lundmark Halo at 170 grams, which had been sold to me at the Nationals in 2013 as an “Overstable High-Speed Driver” which is what it says on the tin. Well, I guess 3 out of 4 words isn’t too bad. :P The Halo was a flippy piece of crap, and no WAY could it be thrown into a headwind. It went straight into the box when I got home and got replaced with a Champion Ape... which is now also in the box...
Anyway, after marinating for 2 years in the box, I ripped it out for a bit of a throw and the Halo turned out to be a fantastic no wind, low ceiling, distance machine, with a touch more turn than either of my 172gm Gold Line Ballistas.
So, what was the point of this article – apart from formally announcing myself as a fool? Um – yeah – and uh – a bit… forgetful...
...Well, it was to encourage you not to get hung up on whether a disc is good or bad in your mind, merely whether you could use it to perform some shot more reliably than you can right now.
It was to demonstrate that Flight Ratings are notoriously unreliable and inconsistent, and you shouldn’t take them too seriously. Besides, the numbers for a disc change radically if they are not thrown at their target speed, on flat ground, in calm air, with no hyzer release angle.
It’s to show that disc weights are important and that the weights you throw are probably too high right now because we men (if you are a man!) tend to think it very manly to throw heavy discs.
Also, it’s to encourage you to revisit discs you’ve taken from your bag some time ago, for whatever reason, and reacquaint yourself with them. You may find that as your game advances, discs you once thought no good may suddenly be very appealing.
And finally, do not avoid throwing discs for any reason. A disc must be evaluated based on how it flies for you! Not on who made it. Not on what weight it is. Not how it looks. And speaking of ugly…
… despite Greg throwing an ace both times we played my Jellie Park course (#12 short and #18 long), I still got him by two strokes each round. Cheers, Greg. It’ll be in Berlin next time. You can wreak your horrible revenge there, and I will throw the aces. :)