It’s cold in Michigan, 24 degrees as I write this article. Yet Rodney and I still find ourselves out on the course and putting in our yards. Crazy? Maybe. Die hard disc golfers? Yes.
We’ve had a few readers recently ask us questions about disc golfing in the winter so we decided to write a short series of articles about disc golfing in the cold.
One of the first things you may notice is your average distance decreasing as the temperature drops. In fact, in the past I’ve charted out the effect temperature has on my drives and I typically see a decrease of about 5-7 feet for every temperature drop of 10 degrees. Don’t worry though, this is normal!
Edit: Bart from Best Disc Golf Discs pointed out that cold winter air is actually more dense than warm air and thus produces more lift (thanks Bart!). The decrease in distance is due to the additional drag created by the cold air and probably further hampered by additional layers of clothes and loss of grip.
Pretty unfair right? You’ve put all that hard work and time into adding those 10 extra feet just before the winter hit! So you don’t let the cold stop you and you just throw harder, right?
There are adjustments you can make to help compensate for the loss of distance but just throwing harder is rarely the answer. Above all, throwing harder will decrease your accuracy and consistency so the distance you gain back may very well be off of the fairway. Throwing harder can also lead to injuries as you put more strain on your body. Beyond that, there’s a chance it simply won’t work and you’ll be stuck with poor lies and no extra distance at all.
So what can you do to compensate for the loss of distance?
Most importantly, plan for shorter drives. Knowing that your throws will be shorter, you can focus on placement so as to minimize the damage done by the lost distance. This alone will help dramatically.
Switch to a disc with more turn and higher glide. Discs often become more overstable in the cold and this may be a viable option if you have trouble turning your driver over for that hyzer flip. My go to driver, Discraft’s Crush, becomes extremely overstable in the cold and I’ll often switch to a Discraft XL which is less stable and also has incredible glide. Just remember that switching discs can also result in decreased consistency, so just use with caution.
Throw a lighter disc. I don’t typically advocate this option since lighter discs are also more difficult to control and are more susceptible to wind which can be wicked in the winter. However, if you are confident with light weight discs then you may be able to get an extra 15 or 20 feet with something like Blizzard, Z-Lite, or Opto Air plastics.
Use more rollers. The ground becomes more firm in colder temperatures meaning a roller wont sink in as much and has a chance to roll further. Plus, rollers don’t rely on air conditions for glide. Obviously this won’t help with snow on the ground though.
I usually employ a mix of shorter strategy along with less overstable discs. This allows me to recover some of the lost distance but keeps my game relatively consistent. This year I have a Z-lite Nuke to try out and Rodney picked up an Opto Air Ballista, we’ll report back on how those work.
Just remember that even though it’s cold, the important thing is to keep playing! Get out to a course with ribbons on your disc if it’s snowy or just set up a basket in your yard and throw a few cold putts. But always remember:
Check out other winter content here:
- Just Throw Podcast, Episode 5 – Cold
- Winter Disc Golf – Discs and Plastic
- Winter Disc Golf – Putting
- Winter Disc Golf – Benefits and Goals
Need some winter reading? Patrick McCormick’s new book, Discs and Zen, is now available on Amazon!
If you need a new winter disc, here is the Discraft XL on Amazon or Z-Lite Nukes are currently on sale.
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Great article. I might add that cold hands takes away distance as well. Hand warmers are the answer for me but they keep splitting open and making a mess in my pocket. Any recommendations on quality hand warmers?
You must have gotten in our heads 😉 We have another article in the winter series coming out in a week or two that will talk about preparing yourself for the cold. Hand warmers and Friction Gloves will both make an appearance. I like the idea of comparing hand warmers, I’ll try to pick up a few different kind and make a mention. What brand break open on you?
I use Yaktrax hand warmers. I get them at Dunham’s usually. They are cheaper than other brands, I think. I’m not entirely sure why they bust open … they may be more likely to break as they age. But when they do bust, it’s a nasty mess of black powder. Not good if you’re a putter who licks his finger tip before a putt … yuk, and very likely poisonous. I once grabbed a pair of pricey ones from a Walgreen’s and had better luck. I also tried a pair of reusable hard warmers … not sure of the name … had a bunch of blue goo inside them and a little piece of metal that you bend for them to get warm. Pretty cool, and super warm at first, but they didn’t last long. Got weaker and weaker over time. You can get gas fired ones and I’m sure electric ones as well. I might look into an electric one. I play a lot in winter, dislike gloves, but play miserably when my hands are cold. If you guys test out an electric hand warmer, I’d like to hear about your results.
This might be the ticket: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-hand-warmer/