The EVOLUTION of DISC GOLF DISCS
By : Tom Monroe
Edited by : Doug Carder
When disc golf began in the early 70s, everyone used Wham-O Frisbees. The Pro and the All American were the top Wham-O flyers. But by 1974, almost all the players used the CPI All Star Saucer Tosser Disc. In fact, a player named Dave Johnson set a distance record with the CPI that year. He borrowed his friend Victor Malafronte’s CPI to do it. Victor was mad because he planned on setting the distance record with his CPI first. The initials CPI stood for Continental Promotions Inc. Wham-O’s answer to this disc was to buy the company and then cease production.
Sometime after this, a disc golf course wanted to order some Glow In the Dark Frisbees. Ed Headrick, the inventor of the disc golf pole hole, came up with some glow material and when he added it to a 40 mold Frisbee, it not only made the disc glow in the dark, but it also made it heavier. Players soon realized they could throw these heavier discs farther and with more power than before. From this point on, discs were steadily made heavier and heavier with companies trying to better the competition.
Ed first called his glow disc a “ Night Flyer ”. This name was later changed to a “ Midnite Flyer ” due to a copyright issue. Different molds came out in the effort to compete with the heavier discs.
In 1981 Jan Sobel came in with the Puppy. Jan basically took a 40 Mold Midnite Flyer, downsized it to 21 cm and pumped it up to 200 grams. This disc could really be chucked. One of the heaviest discs he came out with topped out at over 250 grams. Jan was also ahead of his time when he created the Bullet, a 20 centimeter sharp edged driver that inspired the 21 centimeter rule.
There were some Puppy Want-A-Bee's, like the AMF 21 and 23 Cm golf discs. The bowling ball company thought they could just jump right into the golfers' bags with these two new heavyweights. They could be found in very heavy weights, some upwards of 200 gm. They were only produced from 81-83. The 21cm was like a Puppy and the 23 was like a bigger flatter Puppy.
1982 The Puppy man came out with the infamous Whizback. It looked like
a Fastback and came in weights over 200 gm's.
Around 1983, Dave Dunipace brought a Puppy to San Diego’s Morley field that was modified with a plastic ring around the edge to form a wedge shape. The result was the groundbreaking Eagle, the first disc made specifically for golf, not throw and catch. This disc significantly reduced the weight necessary to get distance and high performance from a disc.
The first mold for the Eagle was not run quite identical to Dunipace’s specifications. So the mold was changed and the new one was called the Aero. The Aero was more stable than the Eagle and replaced the Puppy as the Golf Disc to throw for distance. It also caused some controversy at the 1983 Worlds in Huntsville. The disc had just come out and was more available in some parts of the country than others. You could purchase the disc at the Worlds but may not have much time to practice with it. It was decided to let players use the new Aero but the next year a new rule was in place that required new discs to be out for over 30 days to be used.
Founded in 1978 in London Ontario, Jim Kenner later moved the company
to Michigan. Most golfers don't know that Jim Kenner is the inventor of Frisbee Freestyle. He and his partner Ken Westerfield were sponsored by Molson's Beer
and toured Canada performing. They held a Frisbee tournament in Toronto in 74'
and introduced the exciting new event of Freestyle. This event basically has a
two person team performing tricks with a disc, usually set to music. The event
is judged much like gymnastics.
Discraft was known as the maker of the official Ultimate disc, the Ultra-Star, which came out in 1981. They had also produced the Sky-Styler for Freestyle competition in 1980. Disc golfers had been known to use the Sky Star (1981) and the Sky Streak (1983), but the first Discraft disc made specifically for disc golf was the Phantom, released in 1983. It came in what was called the first candy or durable plastic. Their first disc, in 78, was the Sky Pro, a 125gm. utility disc.
The Aviar was Innova’s third disc. It was special in its accuracy and overstability. It allowed you to make a faster run at your target. Over the years it has been debated to be the best overall and most popular disc golf disc ever.
The next disc that Innova came out with was the XD. It was a low profile version of the Aviar. It is less stable and flies longer than the Aviar. It has a very thin rim. It was the distance champ right out of the box.
In 1984, Frank Aquilera had used an Aero to break the distance record. It was not until 1987 that Michael Canci broke it throwing a Lightning P-38 disc. Steve Howle had formed Lightning Discs in the emerging days of golf discs and scored a hit with the P-38. It had an extremely low profile and was very fast. His father helped in the initial designs and Steve named all his discs after great American fighter planes.
Apple – the initial mold on this one did not turn out the way Innova wanted. It was basically a play catch Frisbee. It even had
"flight rings" or "Rings of Headrick"
Coupe - this disc was great for beginners. I was easy to throw and turned over with enough thrust.
85 was the year of two Disc Golf World Championship. The PDGA event was
in Tulsa and the World Flying disc Federation's was in Sweden. Those who
went to both really like the one in Sweden.
Ace - was a low profile XD with a rounded edge. This was a longer turnover driver.
The original Roc came out in 1987 and it was unique because it was the first attempt to put a bead on the rim in an attempt to stabilize the disc. All the pros loved it because it was stable for them into the wind. They didn’t like it when it was changed the first time. The Roc went through many revisions through the years bringing it to what it is today. The Roc along with Aviar are still today two of the most prized discs in the sport.
1987 also saw the release of the Hammer and Stingray from Innova.
The Hammer flies like an understable Roc. It’s got a rounded edge and a very low inner rim. the original "flat top" hammer was by far the best ever. A good example of the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".!
The original Stingrays were stable for players with fairly good power. They would go straight and far. They had a lower wedge design and sharpness. Strong arms could throw a very long turnover. It was the new distance champ.
Cruiser - the first low profile, overstable disc with a wide rim. Years ahead of it's time See today's wide rimmed discs.
A year after the Lightning P-38 broke the distance record, Innova came out with the Phenix and Sam Ferrans used it to set a new record. The Phenix was considered the top distance disc of its day and would reign until the Viper came out a few years later. The Phenix had a unique hollow sound when it smashed into a tree.
Also, in 1988, Innova came out with the Cobra, a very good straight shooter and approach disc. It was basically a Stingray with a lip on the rim.
Innova released the Shark this year. It was a good overstable approach disc, similar to the Roc but faster. It broke in quickly and becam a great disc for straight layup's and turnover's in the woods.
This was also the year that Discraft became a big time player in the disc golf world. This was the year Discraft introduced the Eclipse. This disc became the most important to the average player. It was understable with a very sharp edge. The low and sharp profile of the disc caused a rule that restricted how sharp the discs could be. Eclipse set the limit with its’ Rim configuration ratio. People loved them but they would tend to get beat up pretty quickly and turn over. Then it became a good roller disc.
Other discs by Discraft this year include :
Windstar - this was a retooled Cruiser with a small bead for more stability.
The Phantom was retooled to become the Phantom Plus and then later the Deuce still in the first of the super durable plastic.
The Scorpion was a driver with a very good glide. It had a bigger diameter than most modern golf discs.
The Barracuda was a more understable version of a Scorpion. It beat up real fast.
The Lynx was also a large diameter approach disc that many players used for Self Caught Flight in
the lighter weights.
Tracer - fast straight driver, good glide.
Vortex - smaller version of the Tracer. Excellent midrange disc. Later retooled for more glide.
Shadow - more domed version of the Tracer. Long distance flyer.
The Viper was a very overstable disc that beat the distance record set by the Phenix.
It was the distance disc for a few years in the 90s.
The Hammerhead was a bad version of the original Hammer. It had a larger diameter than the
The Condor was very similar to the Lynx.
Jaguar - large diameter disc.
Birdie - putter with a Thumbtrac (very high rim) which makes it easy to grip.
Zephyr - is a Lynx sized disc with a flat edge. Its one of the favorite discs for the Discathon and
The Whippet was even more overstable and smaller than the Viper. The Whippet was the most
overstable disc since the short lived Bullet.
Marauder - a sharp edged domed driver. It was very controllable.
Piranha - looks like a Zephyr with a smaller diameter. It’s a very overstable approach and
Griffin - is a Whippet with a round edge. It does not fly as far as a Whippet but is more
Panther - this disc was a sleeper from Innova. It had a thick rim and was great for turnovers in the
Hawk - A slightly overstable mid range.
Magnet - Discraft’s version of the Aviar.
Cyclone - perhaps the best selling disc ever made. Discraft’s change in plastic instantly made this
disc more grip friendly. Players were able to hang on to the disc longer resulting in more
snap and longer distances.
Gazelle - same size as a Whippet but flies straighter.
Ram - when it came out, was the most overstable disc in the sport.
Python - in its initial release, was very understable and fast. Could be used as a roller
brand new. Later releases were not as understable.
Polecat - similar to the Birdie with a lower rim. Straight flying putt and approach disc.
Gopher - a round edged approach putter.
Dolphin - 150 gram driver that floats in water.
Raven - Innova’s longest range large diameter driver. Easy to throw.
Typhoon - a more overstable version of the Cyclone with a slightly bigger diameter and a somewhat
lower inner rim. Nice long glide and flight.
Rattler - Discraft’s version of the Puppy. A slow, flat flyer.
Cheetah - like a Gazelle with a lower rim and more understable. Nice straight flyer. Easy to control.
Super Nova - this was Innova’s first attempt at an Ultimate disc.
X-Clone - was a world record holder for distance for a time. It was very fast and overstable.
Comet - a slightly understable, mid range driver.
Moray - a turnover driver that was based on the Stingray. It was a little more overstable than a
Stingray, and flew like a cross between a Roc and a Cobra.
Polaris LS 1.1
Millenium pushed the envelope in every single parameter for a disc while still having a legal product. It had minimum size with maximum sharpness on the rim, plus the best grippy material. When this disc hit, the players couldn’t believe it.
Pegasus - a less overstable Whippet. It has more glide than a Whippet.
Stratus - easy to use turnover driver.
Rhyno - based on the Aviar with the Thumb Trac on the top. A lot more overstable than the Aviar.
Banshee - very overstable driver that works well into a head wind.
XL - is probably the most user friendly long distance disc ever made. It holds a line very well.
Scott Stokely used the XL to break the distance record.
X2 - the overstable version of the XL.
MRX - moderately overstable mid range driver.
Teebird - overstable disc that is easy to control with very good glide. Straight and fast flyer.
Wolf - is a turnover version of the Roc.
Eagle - a very long, fast flyer.
Leopard - understable with a nice glide.
Puma - mid range turnover disc.
APX - a high profile beveled edge putter. Made in the durable Elite plastic.
Valkyrie - has a sharp edge, low profile, and is a fast turnover driver with good glide.
Gator - similar to a Roc with the Thumb Trac on the top.
Firebird - very overstable
XS - a long driver that was great for the S curve. Former World Record holder
Xpress - long turn over disc. Good roller.
MRV - understable mid range.
Xtra - a tamed down version of the Xtreme. Not quite as overstable.
Xtreme - extremely overstable driver
Archangel - slightly understable driver with a good glide
Dragon - an Archangel in the 150 class floats, in water
Spider - small diameter, straight line mid range.
Reaper - last of the small rimmed discs. Very fast and overstable.
Beast - very fast stable driver. Low and flat profile.
Wildcat - a super fast low profile long driver.
Talon - the lowest profile disc from Discraft. Very fast.
Wasp - overstable mid range driver.
Predator - overstable driver.
Storm - faster and more overstable version of the Comet.
Putt’r - similar to the Rattler, but more understable.
Monster - very overstable driver.
Viking - When the Champion line Teebirds came out so overstable, the Champion Viking
was created to give less fade. It is a straight flyer with great glide.
Starfire - This one was held back from normal production for a few years as a fund raiser only. By
the time it was released to the general public, it was old news. Very fast with good glide.
Crush - long fast driver that is easy to control. Has a wide rim, flat top and excellent glide.
Buzz - one of the straightest mid ranges ever made.
Breeze - understable mid range driver.
Challenger - similar to the Magnet, but more overstable.
Squall - DGA’s fast midrange in a candy blend.
Riptide - the Squall’s bigger brother, a fast long driver.
Orc - slightly overstable driver similar to the Beast. Very wide rim and extremely fast.
Bulldog - a firm and overstable putt and approach disc with a very tall rim. Good fit for players with
Hydra – grippy disc that feels like the Bulldog and floats in water. Originally released in 170 grams.
Flash – one of the fastest drivers with a long glide.
Flick – superfast overstable driver..
Glide - a long midrange with a slow turn. Very user friendly.
Tsunami - the overstable version of drivers that rounded out DGA’s proline.
Sidewinder - a long turnover disc. Great roller.
Coyote - a larger diameter approach disc with good glide.
Avenger - easy to throw long distance disc.
Venom - very fast and very overstable driver.
Roadrunner- quicker turning version of the Sidewinder.
Wraith - easy to throw very far.
TeeRex - more overstable Wraith
MAX - even more overstable.
Skeeter - fast mid range.
Pulse - easy to throw long driver from Discraft
Surge - small groove on top makes it a bit faster and more overstable than the Pulse.
GT Banger- Groove Top thumb indention, putter feels great in many hands.
Tourque - overstable mid range that was recalled because it was not overstable enough.
Inferno - could be the longest disc out there, depends on the run as to how
overstable it is.