Disc Golf Course Review optimal launch trajectory
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#1
07-11-2013, 10:24 AM
 DG_player Birdie Member Join Date: Apr 2013 Posts: 377 Niced 50 Times in 40 Posts
optimal launch trajectory

I always find the physics of disc golf be very interesting and I was pondering this question while playing the other day:

What is the optimum launch angle to achieve max distance?

For any object thrown in a vacuum, this angle is 45 degrees. When you throw in the effects the air, like lift and drag, this changes immensely. For a golf ball drive it's around 15 degrees. I'm guessing for a golf disc since it flies like a wing and thus presumably generates more lift than a golf ball, that there is a lower optimal trajectory.

So from your experience, what have you found to be the optimal launch trajectory for max distance (assuming adequate power and technique to properly throw a driver)?

Feel free to specify lines and discs as well.
#2
07-11-2013, 10:34 AM
 bradharris Team Borderland Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Loudoun County Years Playing: 14.5 Courses Played: 87 Posts: 5,219 Niced 38 Times in 25 Posts

Trajectory is the wrong way to think about it.

The disc is a wing, airflow is what keeps it aloft and thus, keeps it flying forward. As long as there is enough airflow, the disc will produce enough lift to stay aloft.

Of course, the disc also has to stay stable which is where spin and release angle come into play as well.

The short answer, throw it level with the correct release angle and the disc will take care of the rest.
#3
07-11-2013, 10:48 AM
 knettles Double Eagle Member Join Date: Nov 2011 Location: Portland, OR Years Playing: 7.2 Courses Played: 112 Throwing Style: RHBH Posts: 1,227 Niced 53 Times in 33 Posts

Well, the optimal throw for maximum distance is a high s-curve. Any pro will tell you that. Throw an understable disc high, it'll turn and glide a long way before starting to eventually fade. However, I'm not sure about the actual angle. I'd say the golf angle of 15 degrees is pretty close. Could possibly be a bit higher. Some of the videos of the distance comps show them launching the discs way high. Throwing level is definitely not the optimal angle tho. Having that been said, most of my throws in a round are level (golf shot) and not high (max d) to preserve accuracy.

And I agree, the physics of disc golf are alot of fun.
#4
07-11-2013, 11:18 AM
 garublador * Ace Member * Join Date: Mar 2008 Location: Urbandale, IA Years Playing: 13.6 Courses Played: 7 Posts: 5,081 Niced 33 Times in 19 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by knettles Well, the optimal throw for maximum distance is a high s-curve. Any pro will tell you that. Throw an understable disc high, it'll turn and glide a long way before starting to eventually fade. However, I'm not sure about the actual angle. I'd say the golf angle of 15 degrees is pretty close. Could possibly be a bit higher. Some of the videos of the distance comps show them launching the discs way high. Throwing level is definitely not the optimal angle tho. Having that been said, most of my throws in a round are level (golf shot) and not high (max d) to preserve accuracy. And I agree, the physics of disc golf are alot of fun.
I'll agree that checking out some videos of distance competitions would be the best way to check. You have to make sure to check the initial trajectory because the disc will rise after that. Looking at the video in this thread:

It seems as if the 15 degree number isn't too far off. Though I suspect it will depend heavily on the disc. Slower discs have less lift and will probably require a higher initial trajectory.
#5
07-11-2013, 09:07 PM
 sidewinder22 * Ace Member * Join Date: Nov 2008 Location: Creeping Creek DGC Years Playing: 11.2 Courses Played: 185 Posts: 11,679 Niced 544 Times in 410 Posts

A lot will depend on the thrower, the wind, and the disc. There's a vid of Katchz throwing something like 45 degrees in a monster tailwind and going like 700'. For me it probably is closer to 15-20 degrees. For players with less power the trajectory will be lower as it's harder to keep the nose down. Most torque monkeys/strong armers and air bouncers are throwing with a negative trajectory and nose up, not good for distance.
#6
07-14-2013, 11:58 PM
 Nasty Nate Double Eagle Member Join Date: Jun 2013 Location: Columbus, OH Years Playing: 14.6 Courses Played: 12 Throwing Style: RHBH Posts: 1,393 Niced 21 Times in 16 Posts

I was actually just wondering about this because I have trouble getting max distance out of my drives and when considering trajectory I often end up floating it and losing distance. When I throw flat I still get about the same distance, if not less, as if I had thrown a bit higher. Granted, my form is not perfect but I can't quite figure out the optimal way to launch a disc. A good drive for me ends up right around 300 feet but I frequently land near 260. I guess some things come more easily to other people.
#7
07-15-2013, 12:10 AM
 DiscinFiend * Ace Member * Join Date: May 2013 Location: Milwaukee, WI Years Playing: 18.4 Courses Played: 70 Throwing Style: RHBH Posts: 3,482 Niced 97 Times in 64 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by sidewinder22 A lot will depend on the thrower, the wind, and the disc. There's a vid of Katchz throwing something like 45 degrees in a monster tailwind and going like 700'. For me it probably is closer to 15-20 degrees. For players with less power the trajectory will be lower as it's harder to keep the nose down. Most torque monkeys/strong armers and air bouncers are throwing with a negative trajectory and nose up, not good for distance.
#8
07-15-2013, 08:35 AM
 ChrisWoj Eagle Member Join Date: Nov 2008 Location: Toledo, Ohio Years Playing: 12.6 Courses Played: 128 Posts: 599 Niced 44 Times in 32 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by DG_player I always find the physics of disc golf be very interesting and I was pondering this question while playing the other day: What is the optimum launch angle to achieve max distance? For any object thrown in a vacuum, this angle is 45 degrees. When you throw in the effects the air, like lift and drag, this changes immensely. For a golf ball drive it's around 15 degrees. I'm guessing for a golf disc since it flies like a wing and thus presumably generates more lift than a golf ball, that there is a lower optimal trajectory. So from your experience, what have you found to be the optimal launch trajectory for max distance (assuming adequate power and technique to properly throw a driver)? Feel free to specify lines and discs as well.
This has less to do with the specific question you had than it does disc physics... Check out the stuff by the DiscWing guys. Their masters thesis was on disc flight physics. Its over at their company website. I used their research to do a 15 minute presentation on the physics of disc flight last fall for a physics of everyday things course, and their research was tremendously useful. I also feel like I "understand" my plastic a lot more as a result.
#9
07-15-2013, 08:44 AM
 Uncle Dougie Double Eagle Member Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Rockford, IL Years Playing: 7.5 Courses Played: 28 Throwing Style: RHBH Posts: 1,383 Niced 0 Times in 0 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by sidewinder22 A lot will depend on the thrower, the wind, and the disc. There's a vid of Katchz throwing something like 45 degrees in a monster tailwind and going like 700'. For me it probably is closer to 15-20 degrees. For players with less power the trajectory will be lower as it's harder to keep the nose down. Most torque monkeys/strong armers and air bouncers are throwing with a negative trajectory and nose up, not good for distance.
SW,

Would throwing out to the left with a high hyzer-flip to get a big turnover be considered a negative trajectory? Or the same shot but with an anny orientation be the negative trajectory?

#10
07-15-2013, 09:10 AM
 BogeyNoMore * Ace Member * Join Date: Jul 2009 Location: Walled Lake, MI Years Playing: 13.4 Courses Played: 242 Throwing Style: RHBH Posts: 8,304 Niced 450 Times in 281 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by ChrisWoj This has less to do with the specific question you had than it does disc physics... Check out the stuff by the DiscWing guys. Their masters thesis was on disc flight physics. Its over at their company website. I used their research to do a 15 minute presentation on the physics of disc flight last fall for a physics of everyday things course, and their research was tremendously useful. I also feel like I "understand" my plastic a lot more as a result.
I really enjoy disc physics, but that's some dry reading.
Here's the link to Disc Wing's Research if anyone has oodles of time to kill.