It can be frustrating to play disc golf in the wind. Especially when you’re putting. Its hard enough to sink a putt in a basket from any distance outside the circle. And adding wind to the equation introduces multiple variables that just makes everything harder.
Take a moment to watch the below clip to know that you’re not alone in your annoyance of the wind while putting:
This putting clip certainly shows an extreme end of the wind spectrum, but it is easy for disc golfers to empathize with this situation because most have had similar experiences. You release your disc dead center at the basket and instead of being greeted by the satisfying sound of chains jigging, your disc is sent sailing in the wrong direction. Not fun at all.
However, in spite of the wind there are plenty of disc golfers out there that are still able to make their putts consistently from long distances. This is because they understand HOW to play in the wind.
Your putting technique or routine doesn’t need to necessarily change when you’re in windy conditions. Rather, you need to adjust the release angle, trajectory, and spin speed to match the conditions.
Anytime you step out on to a windy disc golf course, it will be completely unique from any situation you’ve ever encountered. There may be similarities to your past experiences, but it’ll be different all the same. Because of this, you can’t use the same approach each time. There is not a step-by-step template that you can follow.
Instead you’ll need to understand the general principles of putting in the wind. Once you understand these fundamentals, you’ll be able to easily and quickly adapt to any potential circumstance.
Different Types of Wind
The are four general types of wind conditions that you can encounter: tailwind, headwind, crosswind from left to right, and crosswind from right to left.
It is going to be important that you understand each type, so you can know exactly what adjustments you need to make for your putts:
- Tailwind – this is a wind that is blowing in the direction you are throwing your disc. It will come from your back.
- Headwind – this is a wind that is blowing in the opposite direction you are throwing your disc. It will inhibit forward movement.
- Crosswind: Left to Right – this is a wind that is blowing from your left side, perpendicular to the disc.
- Crosswind: Right to Left – this is wind that is blowing from your right side, perpendicular to the disc.
These terms are from the branch of science known as aeronautics, or the science of flight. Mostly, this science applies to airplanes, so the terms are befitting of that circumstance.
For instance, imagine an airplane from the side. Whenever wind is hitting the tail of the plane, that is a tailwind. Whenever wind is hitting the head of the plane, that is a headwind.
And then of course, anything that is crossing horizontal to the airplane, or directly against the wings, would be called a crosswind.
Now, would it surprise you to learn that pilots actually prefer to take off in a headwind as opposed to a tailwind? Let’s take at why that is and how that information can help you while putting in the wind with your golf discs.
Putting in a Tailwind
To understand how a tailwind will impact the flight of your golf disc, I want you to imagine that airplane again.
Pilots taking off with an airplane in a tailwind require more runway to do so. This is because the wind is pushing the wings down as the airplane tries to takeoff. As the wings are tipped up, the wind from behind is flowing over the top.
While this may increase the forward momentum, it is also pushing the aircraft down toward the ground. This makes takeoff more difficult:
When you are putting in a tailwind, you need to anticipate the same thing happening to your golf disc. The tailwind is going flow over the top of your disc and push it into the ground faster than you’d expect in normal conditions. Instead of hitting chains, you’ll be hitting the basket. Or worse, the ground.
In response, you should aim your disc higher than you would in calm conditions. Also, since the wind is increasing the disc’s velocity in a tailwind, you may tend to think you need to putt with less speed. It seems counter intuitive, but don’t take your foot off the throttle here. If anything, you will want to give the disc a bit more power and spin to fight dropping to the ground.
Lastly, you really need to get the nose angle correct on these putts. If you’re still having trouble making contact with the chains, you can tilt the nose of the disc up. This will allow your disc to fight dropping too fast. If the nose of your disc is pointed at the ground, the tailwind will knock it down much quicker.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for the top of the basket. You should practice this before starting your round to get a feel for the tailwind from various distances, so you know how high you need to go.
The further the distance from the basket, the higher you should aim your putt. Similarly, the stronger the tailwind, the higher you should aim your putt.
Putting in a Headwind
To review a headwind, let’s go back to that airplane. An airplane pilot requires less runway to takeoff in this type of wind. This is because the wind is producing more lift against the wings.
However, this will also decrease forward momentum.
When you are putting in a headwind, you need to anticipate the same thing happening to your golf disc. The headwind is going flow underneath the bottom of your disc and push it into the air faster than you’d expect in normal conditions.
In response, you should aim your disc lower than you would in calm conditions. Focus on snapping your wrist more than usual to generate extra spin on the disc, but decrease the your release power from normal conditions. It can seem counter intuitive, but this will allow it to gently glide into the basket. If you try to power the disc into the basket without enough spin, it has a higher chance of flying over the basket.
Again, nose angle is very key to putting into a headwind. Keep the nose of your disc down to prevent it from lifting. Nothing too extreme. Just enough to keep the bottom of the disc from being exposed directly to the wind.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for the top of the bottom of the basket. You should practice this before starting your round to get a feel for the headwind from various distances, so you know how low you need to go.
The further the distance from the basket, the lower you should aim your putt. Similarly, the stronger the headwind, the lower you should aim your putt.
Putting in a Crosswind
The number one thing you need to remember when putting into a crosswind is to keep the disc low and flat. Take care not to expose the bottom or top of the disc while putting. You’ll need to hold off on any hyzer or anhyzer putts.
Let’s go back to our airplane one last time. If an airplane were to expose the right wing (bank left) in a right to left crosswind, the wind would lift the plane even more.
Conversely, if the airplane were to expose the right wind in a left to right crosswind, the wind would push the plane down even more.
If you keep your disc flat, you won’t have to worry about it lifting or being pushed down as much. You can negate the vertical movement with a flat release. However, your disc is still going to be pushed horizontally in the direction of the cross wind.
Left to Right Crosswind
In a left to right crosswind, you can focus on throwing your putter at the left side of the chains. As the disc travels toward the basket, the wind will push it toward the center.
Right to Left Crosswind
In a right to left crosswind, you can focus on throwing your putter at the right side of the chains. As the disc travels toward the basket, the wind will push it toward the center.
Focus on keeping the disc low and snapping your wrist more than you typically would to generate additional spin. This will help it slice through the air more quickly toward the target.
Best Discs for Putting in the Wind
The best discs for putting in the wind are disc that are overstable, heavy (preferably max weight), and thin. Overstable discs will provide the most consistent and predictable flight, which is going to be your best friend in windy conditions.
I’ve used and experimented with many different disc golf putters and I’ve settled on a few that I really like.
However, let me preface my disc recommendations with this; there is no disc out that that will compensate for bad technique or a misunderstanding of how the wind will impact your disc. Review the information above a few times and make sure you practice. Understanding what the wind will do to your disc is more important than the disc itself.
That being said, there are definitely discs that are going to be better in the wind for the majority of players out there. And you want ever edge you can get out there.
Now, I don’t like to have a ‘wind only’ putter in my bag. In fact, I would discourage you from this. I’ve found that I’m more consistent in the wind when I’m throwing a putter that I use all the time. And many disc golfers would agree with that.
Instead, I recommend using a putter that is ideal for windy conditions AND ideal for non-windy conditions.
My top pick for this is the Innova Pig. This is a disc that is very overstable. I like to use it mostly for approach shots and long putts in normal conditions. When it is very windy, this is the first disc I reach for to make a putt. Read more about the Pig here at Infinite Discs to see what others are saying about it and pick one up for yourself. Get this disc at the maximum weight of 175 grams for best results.
My main putter is the Discraft Challenger. This disc can do it all, but mostly I use it for putts inside the circle. When it is slightly windy, I’ll use the Challenger over the Pig since this is a little less overstable. It has some pretty good reviews over here on Infinite Discs that you can read through. I definitely recommend getting this disc in the highest weight you can find it in on Infinite Discs.
What Golf Disc To Use In Extreme Wind
If you find yourself in extremely windy conditions, I have a tip for you that may seem ridiculous, but it can actually really help. Don’t use a putter…
Remember back to the clip I showed at the beginning of this article. That man was using a putter in extreme wind with absolutely no success. When you’re in this situation, lay your putter down and pick up an overstable distance driver.
Drivers are more aerodynamic than putters and can slice through the wind much easier.
I always carry around a Nuke OS for shots where I need to get left quickly and other utility throws. I rarely use this disc off the tee pad because it has such a high speed. It has to be the most overstable disc I’ve every used.
However, when it is extremely windy (hurricane status) I’ll pull this out and slice through the wind with no problem. Check it out over here on Infinite Discs to get one.
Key Takeaways for Putting in the Wind
There’s no way that we can control the wind, so we need to plan the flight path of our discs accordingly. Remember these key takeaways for the next time you are playing in windy conditions:
- Will drop your golf disc putts
- Aim higher than your target (ex. top of the basket)
- Keep the nose of the disc slightly up to prevent it from dropping
- Increase your release power
- Will lift your golf disc putts
- Aim lower than your target (ex. bottom of the basket)
- Keep the nose of the disc slightly down to prevent it from lift
- Decrease your release power
- If you expose the top of the disc to a crosswind, it will drop
- If you expose the bottom of the disc to a crosswind, it will lift
- Aim to the left or right of your target depending on the type of crosswind (ex. left or right side of the chains.
- Keep the nose of the disc level