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Disc Review

Universal Disc Flight Ratings System

Update 5-06-02
Version: 0.11 Beta

The preliminary ratings have been posted. These values are not the final version of the ratings system. Please check back for updates.
Disc Ratings

I am currently working on a Universal Disc Flight Ratings System in an effort to be able to make uniform comparisons between all types of discs regardless of make or mold. These will remain as objective as possible with the goal of finding numerical values that accurately represent the flight characteristics of a given disc. The main objective of this system will be to act as a means of true product comparison and differentiation for disc golfers looking to find the right disc to fit their style and desired flight characteristics. In the long-run this may prove as a useful tool for disc selection and purchases without having to perpetuate the costly "trial and error" method of selecting a golf disc. I find the current ratings system by the manufacturers to be wholy inadequate and lacking uniformity, consistency, and relativity amongst their discs as a whole.

Since everyone's throw is different, this system will try to transcend those differences through a system of relative values. Being that there is no current method of uniform disc launching, hopfully with enough effort and collection of data, human trials will have to make do.

The intial development of this system is based on a number benchmarks I developed based on surveys for some of the most popular golf discs that were completed by various golfers. The initial assumption was based on mathematics. As the number of observations approach infinity, the average of the values relative to one another should approach a specific value. Values lying outside 2 standard deviations of the mean (the 95% confidence interval) were to be thrown out and the average recalculated. Unfortunately, the number of surveys completed pulled up well short of my hopes and with several values skewing the data set I am working from a set of benchmarks that are from a much lesser confidence interval. I would consider re-opening the benchmarking process if there were to be significant demand for it to be redone. This would require a minimum of 30 observations for each disc involved. If you believe this should be done, please email me and I will add you to the list. You do not have to be of any specific level of experience or skill but hopefully you will be fairly experienced with a variety of different discs although this is not mandatory by any means. The benchmark discs were as follows: Innova DX Eagle, Innova DX Roc, Innova DX Aviar.

The Ratings Guide

Disc Flight Characteristics - Quantitative Analysis

I have broken down the flight of a disc into 6 parts. Each value is a relative value, and thus holds zero significant value except in comparison to other discs. This part of the ratings system extends from 1.0 to 10.0 in increments of 0.5. In order to keep it uniform, the highest values will represent the highest magnitudes of each category. This system is also not bound by the values 1 to 10 in the long run. The longest disc on the market as of now will be the measure of 10 for distance. If a disc comes out next year that is longer, it will simply be a 10.5 or 11.0. This will solve the problem of having to adjust all the other discs in order to maintain the current 1 to 10 scale limits. Another importance of this system is that it is not compensated for speed. Most manufacturers list their overstable midrange and approach discs with the same system as their drivers. An overstable midrange rarely comes close to an overstable driver when it comes to turnover resistance and fade so I do not feel this is not a very beneficial method of rating. Most stable to understable drivers will be more overstable than most midranges. I believe that this comparison should be preserved by the system. The categories are as follows:

  • Maximum Flight Speed (SPD)
    This is a measure of how fast the disc flies through the air.
  • Resistance to High Speed Turn (R TRN)
    This is a measure of the discs tendency to fight turning over, whether by power, wind, or angle of release. As a general rule (although there are more and more expeptions arising with newer discs) shorter range and understable discs will have relatively low values for this category while very overstable drivers will rank high.
  • Amount of Low Speed Fade (FADE)
    This is a measure of the relative distance covered by a disc during the fade portion of its flight. Theoretically, if all discs were thrown flat at a fixed height of say 15', the measure of distance to the left of the throw line would determine the order of this category.
  • Propensity to Fade (P FD)
    This is a measure of the overstable 'bite' of the disc. This is in reference to how hard a disc fights to fade. Discs with a high Propensity to Fade will flex out/fade earlier in their flight path than those with lower values. I find this distinction between P FD and FADE to be very important with the recent trend of drivers that have very low P FD values but very high FADE values.
  • Glide (GLD)
    This is a measure of the disc's tendency to continue forwards in the air while it slows down.
  • Relative Distance (DIST)
    This is a measure of a disc's length of flight. It is categorized as 'Relative' due to the fact that everyone will have a different maximum distance. In theory, for all players of the intermediate level and above, a disc that the top pros throw 600' vs. discs that they only throw 500' should maintain that distance heirarchy down the line. Keep in mind that this category is for golf shots and not in reference to distance competition style throws.

    Physical Disc Characteristics - Qualitative Analysis

    These categories cover more of the qualitative differences of golf discs. I do feel they are of importance when comparing discs as well as a helpful reference for comparison beyond the flight itself. Certain disc designs will be more conducive to players of a certain level not to mention their variety of durability. These categories are less sophisticated and the values range from 1.0 to 5.0 in increments of 0.5.

  • Recommended Skill Level (SKIL)
    This category refers to the relative ability level required to throw the disc with its intended flight path. Many "straight" drivers for experienced players will be very overstable for newer players.
  • Predictability of Flight (PRDC)
    This category is a measure of the disc's likliness to fly a consistent flight path throw after throw. Some discs will excel in this category while others will have a greater margin of error.
  • Uniformity of Break In Period (WEAR)
    This category measures the consistency and smoothness of a disc's process of wear. The distinction is made between durability as some discs are quite durable to normal abuse but do not hold up well at all under hard tree hits, etc. Discs that break in very slowly will have a high rating while those that have a tendency to taco after coming into contact with an obstacle will rank lower.
  • Overall Durability (DUR)
    This category is a measure of overall resiliance. Plastic is the main factor here especially with the launch of the newer plastics that are nearly indestructable. In the standard line of plastics, some molds will also show greater resiliance to abuse and that should play a small part in this category as well.

    Putting Characteristics - Quantitative Analysis

    Putting form is generally quite different from a normal throwing form and the flight of the disc will differ as well. This set of categories represent the flight characteristics as well as the disc characteristics that are involved with putting. This set of ratings will be to help separate the true putters from the approach discs. The values represented here will range from 1.0 to 5.0 in increments of 0.5. These ratings will probably be put off until the majority of the other ratings are completed.
  • Disc Speed (SPD)
    The relative speed the disc travels with on a putt line.
  • Tightness of Line (LINE)
    This category measure the ability of a disc to hold the flight path and angle it was released with.
  • Fade During Drop (FADE)
    This measures the amount the disc tails off as it falls from the air.
  • Disc Stiffness (STIF)
    This measures the rigidity of the disc. With the variety of soft, gummy putters out there this category should be an important one when choosing a putter. Less stiffness will absorb more shock as the disc hits the chains but also often leads to a less consistent flight path and bounce-outs from certain angles.
  • Propensity to Grip Chain (GRIP)
    This category measures the tackiness of the putter and its likliness to slow itself down when it comes in contact with the chains.
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