I inadvertently threw a disc golf driver into the water at a course near where I work and unsurprisingly it sunk to the bottom. A few weeks later, I saw another player on this same course lose a disc in the water, only this time I noticed the disc was ACTUALLY floating.
So, do disc golf disc float in water? Apparently, they do float in water given the right circumstance and materials.
At the time I didn’t understand why his disc was floating while mine went straight to the bottom of the lake, so I started doing some research to figure out why.
When Do Discs Float on Water?
Discs have the ability to float in water when they are positively buoyant. To be positively buoyant, the disc needs to be lighter than the water it has settled on. If the density of the disc is less than the water, it will float.
For example, imagine a person in a swimming pool floating on their back. The person’s lungs are full of air, which naturally lifts them to the surface. As air leaves the lungs, the person is more likely to sink.
Therefore, a disc golf disc needs to be manufactured with this in mind, adding more air to the structure of the disc or just less overall weight, to decrease the density.
How Do I Tell If My Discs Can Float?
Okay, so do you need to measure the buoyancy of all your discs before you play your next round? I have no idea how to do that other than this simple method.
The easiest way for me to test if my discs could float was to fill up my bathtub and dump my discs in one by one (to be environmentally sound, I did this after my kids took a bath and used the same water in the tub). One by one, my discs floated to the bottom. A bit disappointing.
Of course, when I saw that disc floating on the water at the disc golf course, I didn’t think to ask the person what the disc was called or who created it, so I had nothing to go on.
I went through a number of discs online and when I eventually found some discs that float on water I discovered that there were many which were EXTREMELY light. Pretty much under 140 grams. Which makes sense based on what we previously discussed about the disc needing to be lighter than the water it is displacing to float.
Although, there are also discs that I found that were in the normal weight range around 170 grams, which were also created to float. To achieve this, I fond that sometimes the plastic is specially designed to have little air bubbles dispersed throughout the disc, giving it the necessary buoyancy.
Who Creates Floating Discs?
I found four brands that make disc golf discs that are designed to float on water. Keep in mind that most of these discs are fairly light, which is what allows them to float on water. However, there are a few gems that I’d recommend for anyone’s bag when playing around water. These discs may come in a wide variety of weights, but I’m only listing the weights that will allow it to float in water. I will have each linked to Infinite Discs so you can check on the current price of each:
Innova has some popular floating discs. In particular, they use their Blizzard Champion plastic which has thousands of mini bubbles within to allow the disc to float. Generally, you’re going to need to stay under 140 grams if you want to stop these from sinking. Although I was able to find some heavier R-Pro disc that will also float.
- Hydra – R-Pro – 173-175 grams. Beginner type putter made with plastic that has great grip. Also great to use for approach shots when staring down water.
- Wahoo – R-Pro – 170-172 grams. A fast, stable driver with excellent grip and lots of glide.
- Ape – Blizzard Champion – 130-139 grams. Overstable distance driver that is recommended for an arm that can throw over 300 feet.
- Destroyer – Blizzard Champion – 130-139 grams. Intermediate to advanced players will find this disc to be a useful for sidearms.
AquaFlight makes discs particularly for beginners that ALL float on water. The weights are all pretty low, so these would be perfect for young players starting out:
- Peace Frog – 135-140 grams. This is a putter that is made for slow speed, fade shots.
- DragonFly – 135-140 grams. A mid-range that is designed to be thrown in confined fairways. Requires some touch as it can easily flip at high speeds.
- Pelican – 135-140 grams. Fairway driver produced as a reliable turn over disc.
- Swift – 135-140 grams. Great driver for low power. Doesn’t take much to get this to max speed and will favor a slight turn with a hyzer finish.
I found these to be some of the most affordable disc out there. Lightning has two types of plastics, one of which allows the disc to float. The names are quite on the nose for what you do with them, so I’ll let that speak for itself.
- Driver #1 – Standard – 150 grams
- Hookshot #3 – Standard – 165-169 grams
- Hyzer #1 – Standard – 150 grams
- Flyer #3 – Standard – 165-169 grams
- Putter #2 – Standard – 170-179 grams
A less know disc producer. Millennium uses their Zero-G plastic for floating discs, which deals with injecting some air into the molds.
- Aquarius – Standard – 156-158 grams. Distance driver with strong grip designed for lower power arms.
- Quasar – Zero G – 151-169 grams. High speed maximum distance driver. Needs a strong thrower to get this up to speed. The most overstable disc Millennium delivers.
Do Floating Discs Fly Differently?
Since floating discs are typically lighter, you are going to notice a difference when throwing these. Overall, these types of discs typically turn over on me much more often. Although this is true for most lighter discs. For the heavier discs over 160 grams, I haven’t noticed any differences that are immediately perceptible. I’ve been able to play great round with these discs and I’m more than glad that I got them.
I will say that for me personally I found my distance to be slightly stunted when using these discs, compared to my usual bag of discs. However, when I compare this to the risk of throwing my disc in the water, the trade off is always worth it to me.
There is a certain confidence that I have when throwing these discs around water that I just don’t have with non-floating discs. If I’m throwing over water 90% of the way to the basket, I’ll find myself overcompensating for the waterline and end up pushing my disc too far away from the water and off the fairway to out-of-bounds territory. When the fear of losing my disc forever is taken off the table, It allows me to simply focus on the shot.
How Do I Get My Floating Disc Out of the Water?
Okay, so what do you do when your disc is floating in the water, but its too far from the shoreline to reach it? You could always go trekking through any nearby tress in search of a long stick that you could use to fish it out. Sometimes this works, while other times it won’t. Luckily, there’s a better way.
A popular disc golf accessory that I always carry around is a disc golf retriever. These are devices designed specifically for fishing discs out of the water. There are retrievers that are able to rescue discs from either the bottom of a lake or a floating disc. But let me just tell you, it is SO MUCH easier when the disc is visible and floating on top. One of my favorites is the M-Retriever. Check out my post here to learn more about disc golf retrievers.