Disc Golf and the Wind
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Playing in windy conditions can be absolutely terrifying.
You wake up knowing you're playing a round in a couple of hours. You get yourself dressed in your lucky disc golfing apparel, lace up your outdoor shoes, and head out to the vehicle.
You open that front door and
Wind hits you in the face and you instantly lose some of your confidence knowing it's about to be a rough day on the course.
Well, here are some tips to write down/print out/memorize for your next windy outing!
Learning to read the wind, choosing your shot accordingly, and knowing the discs in your bag will come in very handy, especially in high wind.
This also helps to raise your disc golf IQ and not look like so much of a scrub out on the course by selecting appropriate shots versus just throwing your favorite driver on every single tee box.
An important thing to note is that generally speaking, heavier discs will be more resilient to how the wind affects them. So be sure to have some heavy options in your bag as long as you can throw them proficiently.
Righties and Lefties
It's important to note that these rules are written with perspective of a right handed player throwing backhand. For left handed players and forehand throws, simply reverse the left to right and anhyzer/hyzer rules mentioned below.
Reading the Wind
Determining which direction the wind is blowing is your first step. Going based off of feel or using grass, dirt, or sand can all be used to assess the direction. Toss your substance out in front of the tee pad and see which way it travels to the ground.
You can't figure out how to play the wind if you don't know which way the wind is blowing. When you do, you can then decide on your disc choice.
Simply put, throwing into a headwind means that the wind traveling across your thrown disc is going to make your disc react as if it's traveling faster than what it actually is. This is because the speed your disc is traveling will be meeting the head wind going the opposite direction, giving the effect of a higher speed.
This means that your disc will be more likely to become understable and TURN in it's flight faster than it normally would.
Think of a stable disc you own. Throw it conservatively or slowly and it will fade nicely at then end. Throw it with power and you have a good chance of causing it to turn over.
To counter headwinds, it's better to disc up and throw something more stable or overstable than you typically would for that shot.
"Discing up" means if you normally throw a disc that you know will go 300 feet, you'll now want to throw something that you might be able to push 325 feet with no wind, roughly.
Take the distances into account based off of your abilities. Throwing into a headwind will provide the disc more resistance (despite the disc reacting as if its going faster) and this is why discing up is essential to hit your target area.
Using a lower release will also help you maximize distance in a head wind.
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As somewhat expected, throwing with a tailwind is going to have the opposite effect as above.
While the disc is in flight during a tail wind, the air blowing along behind the disc will effectively make the disc "think" its travelling slower than what it is.
This means the disc will lose it's speed sooner and fade quicker during it's flight. In other words, it makes the disc more stable to overstable.
To counter tailwinds, disc down and throw a more understable option than what you typically would.
A disc flying in a tailwind won't need as much power required to make the same distance as if there was no wind or a headwind, but be sure to elevate your release just a bit more than usual.
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Right to Left Wind
With a right to left wind, two things to improve your game play is to remember that:
Wind on the top of your disc will push your disc DOWN and wind on the bottom of your disc will LIFT your disc up.
So, if you're going for massive distance, throwing a stable disc on a hyzer angle in a hyzer arc will have the wind hitting the bottom of your flight plate and essentially push your disc further down the field.
The opposite holds true for an anhyzer angle, where throwing on an anny will help achieve a more accurate placement as the disc carries less and is pushed down more quickly.
Left to Right Wind
Same concept as a Right to Left wind, but simply the opposite.
If you want maximum distance, throw a big anhyzer flex shot.
Looking for an accurate placement shot, throw the hyzer angle on a hyzer line.
If you need to learn more about hyzer and anhyzer, you can check out THIS ARTICLE
It's also worth noting that for crosswinds in general, the wind will tend to push the disc slightly which ever way it is blowing.
The reason this is not emphasized however is that how much the disc is pushed will depend more so on how the crosswind is hitting the disc (top plate or bottom plate) more so than how the wind is blowing.
Experience and practice will be your best friends to determine how varying crosswinds will effect your disc's flight.
For example, when throwing with a tail wind and crosswind that is going left to right, you would expect an overstable disc to become more overstable, and will aim more to the right to compensate for this.
When throwing into a head wind with a right to left crosswind, you would expect an understable disc to perform more understable and will aim more to the left to compensate.
The difference between these two scenarios is that the left to right crosswind is going to affect the overstable disc less than the understable disc in a right to left wind because the left to right will be hitting the top plate whereas the right to left wind will be hitting the disc's bottom plate.
So you may compensate for the left to right/tailwind more than the right to left headwind in these two scenarios.
I know it's confusing but I hope that makes sense!
Important tip to note:
Keep the wind on the top of the flight plate for accuracy!
Practicing both forehand and backhand upshots is essential to help prepare your for windy situations and avoid throwing your disc to where the wind gets under the disc, lifts it, and lands you well away from your target.
Don't Forget About Putting!
Putting in windy situations can be a real game changer.
What's worse than having a 15 footer with wind in either direction, headwind or tailwind, missing your first putt, missing the comeback putt, and then finally making it for the dreaded three-putt?
This can happen because of something like nose angle.
Say your nose angle was up on that first putt and you're putting into a headwind. The wind will lift the disc and now you've sailed up and over the basket.
Now, you've got a tail wind for your second putt. You just threw high, so you aim and adjust your nose angle down a little bit when you throw. We learned above that wind pushing on the bottom of the disc will make the disc rise, which is what the tailwind is about to do because your nose is down, and therefore your disc lifts and you miss high again.
1.) When putting with a tailwind, slightly adjust your nose angle up and aim towards the top of the chains. The wind "should" help push your disc down and into the center of the chains.
2.) When putting into a headwind, it's more difficult to nose angle up and aim low at the same time without accidentally throwing nose down and having your disc pushed into the dirt.
So, dropping to a knee and putting towards the bottom chains or even the basket on a slight nose up angle may help give you a more direct line with little lift into the chains.
1.) Wind on the top of the disc will push it down while wind under then disc will lift it up.
2.) In a headwind tee off, "disc"up and stable up.
3.) Got a tailwind? "Disc" down and stable down.
4.) Putting into a headwind? Try from a knee with slight nose angle up.
5.) Nose angle slightly down for a tailwind putt, but aim higher.
6.) Heavier discs will be less affected by the wind than their lighter counterparts.
While this article doesn't encompass every possible direction of wind, learning these main points are crucial to achieving greater game play and making the most of your discs and keeping you in play for your best score!
It's always best to practice in all types of weather conditions, not just "perfect" days.
Make time for practice sessions in wind, rain, and snow. You never know when these practice sessions will pay off!
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