I used to love throwing my Innova Valkyrie down a right to left demanding fairway. I could throw it on a hyzer angle at full speed up to 350 feet and know that it would turnover with a nice fade at the end of its flight. However, over time I noticed it started to turnover much more than it once did.
In fact, I’ve noticed this with many of my discs over the years. I get used to how a disc flies and then the flight slowly changes on me. It can be frustrating. Especially when it is a disc I’ve begun to rely on for certain shot situations.
After playing with a disc for a certain amount of time, the wear on the plastic begins to change the flight characteristics of the disc. This is what disc golfers have come to know as beating in a golf disc. Or when a golf disc becomes seasoned.
The more beat in and seasoned a golf disc becomes, the more understable the disc will be. The more understable a disc is, the more it will tend to turn to the right at the beginning of its flight when thrown by a right handed backhand player (and reversed for a left headed backhand player).
However, this doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Many disc golfers view a beat in, seasoned golf disc as the best type of disc. Evening go so far as to say it is the only type of disc they will throw.
This is similar to when you get a new pair of shoes. When you first put them on out of the box, they feel stiff and not quite shaped to your feet yet. As you go through hours of walking, hiking, disc golf and other types of activities, they start to feel more comfortable to wear.
A Disc’s Seasoned Life Cycle
When you buy a brand new golf disc and start using it, the clock starts ticking to when it will become an entirely different disc. A disc’s life cycle will vary depending on usage and the types of courses you play on. However, on average players usually find their discs lasting for a very, very long time.
Over the course of 6 months, I tracked the flight changes of 11 discs that I consistently used in that time frame. I tracked the flight path of each disc at three time periods: Day 1, Month 3, and Month 6. I made a note of each change by drawing the new flight path in relation to my day 1 flight path, as well as the expected flight path out of the box. The results were surprising.
Before we review the results, lets go over the factors that contributed to the wear and tear of each disc:
- All discs were used evenly over the course of about 6 months
- Discs were used 1-2 times a week on 9-18 hole courses, and sometimes practice fields
- All discs were used on an assortment of heavily & lightly wooded courses, ball golf courses, desert courses, and public parks
Flight paths are drawn with the following assumptions in mind:
- Calm day, no wind conditions
- Discs are thrown with no angle, on a flat plane
- Discs are thrown by a right handed backhand player
- Open field, not obstacles in the way
Disc #1: Beat In Distance Driver – Destroyer
- Speed: 12
- Glide: 5
- Turn: -1
- Fade: 3
- Plastic type: Champion
Day 1: It takes a powerful arm to throw a Destroyer the potential distance of around 425 feet. When I took this to an open field to throw I was getting the disc just over 300 feet. With -1 turn, the disc should have moved more toward the right at the beginning of the throw.
Month 3: The disc had seen plenty of action over the course of 3 months. Plenty of minor bumps and scraps, but nothing major. I started to see the disc turnover ever so slightly as I threw it at maximum power. There was about 25 extra feet added to the distance from day 1.
Month 6: After 6 months of rough use, this disc was still flying great. I observed that the flight path started to resemble the expected path out of the box, but with much less distance for my arm. Amazingly, the disc was flying almost 50 feet further than day 1. If I put a little more anhyzer angle on the disc, I was able to get a little more distance down the fairway.
Disc #2: Beat In Fairway Driver – Avenger SS
- Speed: 10
- Glide: 5
- Turn: -3
- Fade: 1
- Plastic type: X
Day 1: I was very excited to throw this disc. It is right in my speed zone at a rating of 10, so I felt confident I could get some meaningful distance out of the Avenger SS. Right out of the box, I was able to throw this disc almost exactly as it is expect to fly. My distance was a bit shorter at closer to 375. But still not bad. The high turn was very helpful for getting that extra distance.
Month 3: By the 3rd month of throwing this disc, I had used it extensively since I was getting so much distance out of it. However, I knew it was going to start to become more understable, but this disc was becoming VERY understable.
Almost immediately out of my hand it began to turn hard to the right. Just at the end of flight it faded back. Still pretty good distance at just under 350 feet, but the overall distance has gone down by almost 30 feet. The disc is seasoning and getting beat in much faster than I thought.
Month 6: The disc no longer resembles anything like it was out of the box. When thrown flat, it is turning over completely out to the right. Far, far right. Distance is around 300 feet, but it is way off target and is absolutely unusable for what I liked it for on day 1. If I put the disc on a heavy hyzer angle with less power I can still get it to 350 feet, but the turn is almost too strong to overcome here with any angle. It was too easy to overpower after it was broken in.
Disc #3: Beat In Mid-range – Buzzz
- Speed: 5
- Glide: 4
- Turn: -1
- Fade: 1
- Plastic type: Z
Day 1: The Buzzz mid-range is a fantastic disc. On day 1 it was flying just as expected. Very straight with just a touch of turn and a soft fade at the end, slightly under 300 feet. I’ve had a Buzzz in my bag for years, so this disc was a welcome addition.
Month 3: By month 3 the Buzzz was still performing. I had used it just as much as all the other discs, if not more since it was so reliable. I noticed it had essentially lost all of its fade after 3 months of use, but still not turning to the right as much as I thought it might.
Month 6: Like a fine wine, the Buzzz just gets better with age. All signs of fade were gone by this point and the turn was not overbearing. It certainly was turning over more to the right than on day 1, but only a little bit. In fact, this has helped squeeze out a few extra feet in distance.
Disc #4: Beat In Putt/Approach – Aviar
- Speed: 2
- Glide: 3
- Turn: 0
- Fade: 1
- Plastic type: DX
Day 1: The Aviar had no problem flying straight as an arrow up to 250 feet on day 1. There was more of a fade at the end of the flight than what was expected.
Month 3: Almost no noticeable change to the flight of this disc after 3 months of use. A little added understability, but it continued to fly straight enough.
Month 6: At 6 months the Aviar was slightly beaten in and began pulling more to the right. But still, it wasn’t enough to be concerned with. There was a little lost distance.
The Impact of Plastic Quality
A major factor of beating in a golf disc is the quality of plastic the disc comes in. The lower the quality, the faster the disc will be beaten in. Most players find that plastic quality actually makes a HUGE difference in how long a disc will retain its original flight characteristics.
There are a ton of different plastic names produced by various manufacturers, so it can get confusing to understand what quality level you’re getting with a disc. There’s the C Line, Pro D, Proton, Prime, Retro, Lucid, BioFuzion, Champion… and the list go on and on.
Be sure to take a look at my recommended equipment page where I list the the most popular plastics from the major disc manufacturers, arranged by level of quality, which is the information that truly matters when selecting a which plastic to get your disc in. You can find that listing by clicking through to the link here.
The good news is there are really just four general levels of plastic quality:
- Low Quality – is easier to damage, lower in cost, and easier to grip. Ideal for short range throws like putters and mid-range.
- Medium Quality – a few dollars more expensive than the low quality plastic. Grip is still satisfactory and the extra durability will enable to disc to last longer.
- High Quality – has the most durability, but the least grip due to the plastic being slick.
- Premium Quality – the most expensive plastic type. Offers the best of both worlds. Will last the longest and offer good grip.
Of the discs that were tested over a 6 month time period, here is the list of plastic quality for each:
- Distance Driver: Destroyer, Champion plastic. Champion is a high quality plastic.
- Fairway Driver: Avenger SS, X plastic. X is a medium quality plastic.
- Mid-range: Buzzz, Z plastic. Z is a high quality plastic.
- Putt/Approach: Aviar, DX plastic. DX is a low quality plastic.
Analyzing the Plastic
After analyzing the flight chart progression over 6 months for each of the discs, there are a few lessons to be learned.
The Destroyer in the Champion plastic held up very well. Since this was a distance driver, it was often hitting trees and other objects at very high speeds and the hard impacts did not significantly impact the wear and tear of the disc. After 6 months the disc was beaten in perfectly for a weaker arm. It almost resembled a faster fairway driver after it was seasoned.
The Avenger SS in the X plastic did not hold up well at all. After 6 months of use, there were plenty of dents and deep gashes which really wore the disc down. Lesson to be learned here is to not get an already understable disc in a lower grade plastic.
The Buzzz in the Z plastic held up well. As it was beaten in more, the flight became more predicable and comfortable to throw. There wasn’t much noticeable damage to the disc itself. If the Buzzz was purchased in a lower quality plastic, it would have likely become a -2 or -3 turn disc. If you want to continue to throw the Buzzz straight, get it in the Z plastic or better.
The Aviar in the DX plastic held up well. After the Avenger SS beat in very quickly in the low quality plastic, the expectation for the Aviar in the DX plastic was that it would also become too understable. That was wrong. Since this was a putter, it didn’t see much action over long distances and hard impact shots, so the low quality DX plastic ended up being perfect. It did see more understability at 6 months, but a slight hyzer angle could straighten out the line.
Should You Beat In a Golf Disc?
A beaten in, seasoned golf disc is neither a good or bad thing. It is a personal preference. If you prefer a more understable disc, then you’ll want to beat in your disc sooner rather than later. If you’re like me and you like the way a Destroyer flies after 6 months of normal use, then you’ll want to try to speed up that process and not have to wait 6 months for that extra understability.
There are a number of methods that you can use to wear in your disc sooner. However, one may ask the question, why not just buy an already understable disc in the first place? Why go through the trouble of artificially breaking in your disc if you could just buy one ready to go?
The answer is a little more complicated than that. A player may develop a level of comfort for how a specific disc mold feels in their hand. Simply switching to a disc that is more understable would likely result in using a mold that is not as familiar to the player. It could work, but if it doesn’t you’ll want to go back to what is familiar and already working in your game.
There is a strong argument for not using certain discs in your game if it doesn’t fly how you want right out of the box. As was the case for me with the Destroyer, it certainly didn’t fly well for me out of the box and I likely would not have stuck with it otherwise. Especially since the Avenger SS was doing the trick. Of course, after 6 months, I did really like how it was flying.
The easier and more reliable method will always be to find a disc you like right out of the box.
However, if you have come to like how a beat in disc works in your game, here are some ideas of beating it in sooner:
Things to Do to Beat in Your Disc Faster
As a rough estimate, over a 6 months period of time I probably threw each of those four discs around 500 times each before they were fully broken in.
So, when you are artificially beating in a golf disc, you need to simulate the same damage it would take to throw a disc 500 times. This is a general average. Higher quality plastics will take longer.
- Play an entire round with just the 1 disc you want to beat in. Use it for drivers, upshots, putts, etc. Everything.
- Let someone less experience use it for a while. They’ll likely hit more trees and wear the disc in faster. Once you get it back, it’ll be closer to how you want.
- Throw your disc into a tree repeatedly
- Throw your disc using grenade shots in open field or parking lot
- Use sandpaper around the rim of the disc
- Place the disc in your dryer for a cycle. Turn the heat down or off completely. Throw in a blanket or towel to lessen the noise. Be careful with this one as it could break your appliance.
- With the disc in both hands, repeatedly fold the disc in a U shape. Rotate the disc so there is a even amount of bend applied to the entire disc.
- Throws nothing but rollers in an open field
- Put the disc in a bag or pillow case and swing it repeatedly into the ground
Cycling Through Your Beat in Golf Disc
As was previously mentioned, the best approach is likely to find a disc you like right out of the box, without having to artificially break it in. My Destroyer eventually started to behave like a fast fairway driver for me, but that takes work, whether that be natural wear and tear or artificially breaking in your disc.
The fact of the matter is you can’t avoid your discs getting beaten up over time. Your discs will beat in eventually. Even if you don’t want to use a seasoned disc. And not everyone has enough money to go out and purchase new discs that often.
A useful strategy is to ‘cycle through your discs’. Let me explain.
Once you find a specific disc that you really like to throw ‘as is’ right out of the box, go ahead and buy multiples of it. Buy that disc in the same weight and the same plastic. And if you buy them at the same time, you’ll likely get them from the same manufacturing batch, which is a bonus.
I find 3 or 4 to be a good number.
Use just one of the discs for a week and then put it aside. Take the next one and use it for a week and put it aside. Continue ‘cycling’ through all of the discs in this fashion.
By the end of this process, you will end up with 3 or 4 of the same disc, but each version of the disc will fly slightly differently. The reality is, even if you buy the same disc each one will become unique based on the individualize use of each. All the discs are beat in and seasoned, but in a different way.
The positive to this technique is you’ll have 3 or 4 discs that all feel the same in your hand, but all fly differently when thrown the same way. Imagine being able to throw 4 discs on a flat release, but each one has a different flight shape. This is a huge advantage out on the course. It allows you to play and throw consistently regardless of the situation that is presented to you.
Which Discs Are the Best to Beat In and Cycle
It is advisable to stick with premium quality or high quality plastic for this strategy. The plastic will hold up for a much longer period of time, holding off the next time you have to buy a new batch.
Focus on getting a disc that is overstable as opposed to understable out of the box. As was seen with the Avenger SS at the beginning of this article, that disc started at -3 turn, but ended up being too easy to flip over after 6 months. The low grade plastic was a factor, but the -3 turn was the largest factor.
I typically recommend and like using understable discs that come right out of the box, because they are great to throw for all skill levels immediately. However, I recommend an overstable fairway driver as the best type of disc to cycle through.
I’ve had great results with beating in and cycling through the Innova Champion TeeBird. The Champion plastic and the moderate fade rating makes this disc quite overstable right out of the box. But give it some time and you’ll start to see the understability kick in, which is when you’ll start to squeeze out some more distance
The TeeBird is a disc that can be used by all skill levels with a speed rating of 7 and has the potential to travel up to 350 feet out of the box. There is even more distance to be had after it is worn in and gains a little turn.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this disc was listed on Amazon for a great price and was prime eligible, so I picked up four of them myself to begin a new cycle with and had them in the mail two days later. I like to use the TeeBird at the max weight of 173-175g. You can check out the current price here on Infinite Discs.
Knowing When You Need to Replace a Disc
Eventually, you’ll need to retire some discs. Most players find that it takes a long time to beat in a golf disc to the point that it is unusable for any purpose. I even found a purpose for the Avenger SS X I had tested for 6 months.
After it started to completely flip over on me, I started using it as a roller disc. Now I can throw it on a slight hyzer angle and feel confident that it will flip over on its rim and roll for over 300 feet.
For most recreational players, a disc will likely last for their entire career of playing disc golf given normal wear. However, if your disc gets any major damage that cracks the flight plate or rim, it needs to be retired.
In fact, some discs that are extremely beat up could be considered an illegal disc. I recently wrote an article you can find here on how long a disc golf disc can last where I found out some pretty interesting facts and rules from the PDGA about what is considered an illegal disc that ever player should be aware of.