There are primarily four different types of golf discs: distance drivers, fairway drivers, midrange discs, and putters. For new disc golfers, it’s the distance the disc provides that matters most.
While any disc can be used for most shots (some better than others), discs are primarily classified by how fast they “fly” – or cut through the air.
Discs are classified as distant, or maximum distance drivers when they are able to cut through the air at very high speeds. These discs have the potential to go very far — in excess of 400 feet, when thrown with the right power and technique. When not thrown properly, these discs lack control, get less distance, and lead to frustration. Maximum distance drivers have thick rims (2.1cm or greater) and a speed rating of 10 or higher.
Control or fairway drivers are discs that just don’t travel as fast as distance drivers potentially can. In general, fairway drivers have thinner rims, are more stable, can fly straighter, and are easier to control. Many of the discs currently classified as “fairway drivers” are the power discs of the past. As disc golf technology and innovation continues to improve, the distance these older discs can fly is less impressive. With that said, for beginning disc golfers, fairway drivers will usually perform better than the max distance drivers.
Midrange discs are slower flying and have rounded, less aerodynamic edges. Some midrange discs can fly almost perfectly straight. Like fairway drivers, many midrange discs are just older discs that used to be considered distance drivers. Midrange discs are designed to give maximum control and accuracy without sailing past the target. It’s not uncommon for experienced disc golfers to tee off with midrange drivers, or even putters.
Putters are the slowest flying disc golf discs. They are usually easy to control and won’t go too far. Compared with drivers, putters almost always fly very straight. They are good for not just landing in the basket, but also for approach shots– landing close to the basket to set up easy putts. If you’re looking for a disc that will fly straight without a big end of flight fade, you may want to consider throwing a putter.