Now, it’s time to look at terms for the discs themselves. What are the different types of disc golf discs out there to throw and what are the different plastics produced by Innova? These are the questions we are answering in this installment of our “Disc Golf Disc-tionary.”
When you boil it all down, Innova categorizes all disc golf discs into four primary categories: distance drivers, fairway drivers, mid-ranges and putt and approach discs. Then, there are a few subsets and other terms you may want to know.
Distance Drivers—These are the fastest discs with low profiles and sharp-edged, wide rims. They are designed to spin faster and fly farther when thrown at full power. Typically used on a hole when you are furthest away from the disc golf basket. When looking at speed ratings that Innova originally created, these are typically discs that are rated with a speed of 9 or higher—meaning everything from a 9-speed Thunderbird to a 14-speed Corvette are in our distance driver lineup.
Fairway Drivers—These discs still have sharper-edged rims, but not nearly as wide or low-profile. Innova typically categorizes discs in the 6-8 speed range as “fairway drivers.” Fairway drivers will still provide great distance if thrown well, but they are designed for more control and accuracy than distance drivers. Some beginner players may find they can throw a fairway driver or mid-range disc further than they can throw a high-speed distance driver. That’s because slower-speed discs can produce full flights with less effort. Innova’s most popular fairway driver molds include the Leopard3, TeeBird3 and Eagle X.
Mid-Range Discs—Mid-ranges are slower-speed discs in the 4-5 speed rating range. They are primarily used for approach shots (upshots) and controlled tee shots on shorter disc golf holes. Mid-range discs provide excellent accuracy and control when your throw needs it most. Disc golfers usually feel quite confident in their next shot with a Roc3 or Mako3 in their hand!
Putt & Approach Discs—Lastly, the slowest discs (speeds 1-3) are considered “putt and approach” discs. In general, they are just considered “putters.” These discs resemble more of a classic Frisbee style with deep rims and blunt edges designed to ride the air and catch the chains. Putters are easy to control and that’s why they are used for putting and short approach shots near the basket, though skilled players will also throw putters at full power for ultra-controlled tee shots and longer upshots. In addition to a putt, they are extremely versatile. The Innova Aviar is the most popular putter in disc golf, and Innova makes a number of different Aviar molds to suit everyone’s game.
Mold—This refers to the specific design of any given disc. The plastic is molded into shape in the factory, hence this term you might commonly hear when talking about different types of discs available.
Weight—All discs are marked with a weight measured in grams. Lighter-weight discs require less power to get up to speed, but can also be harder to control. Heavier discs will fight the wind better and offer more control, but take a little more effort to throw for max distance. Read our previous article all about disc weight selection here.
Max Weight—Per PDGA rules, disc golf discs are required to conform to maximum weights (measured in grams) based on the diameter of the disc mold. This is why bigger discs like Roc3s can have a max weight of 180g while distance drivers max out at 175g. All Innova discs are hand-weighed and marked with the weight (or weight range) before leaving the factory.
Ultimate Discs—Not a disc designed for disc golf, but rather for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. These are larger discs (more like oversized beach Frisbees) designed for maximum glide and catchability.
Super Class—Innova produces a lineup of “super class” discs (as categorized by the PDGA) like the Zephyr, Condor and Makani. These can be used for disc golf and some players love bagging them, or they also make good catch discs for practice, warm-up or just fun on the beach.
Overmold—Innova currently produces three overmolded discs: Nova, Atlas and Avatar. They are made with two pieces of plastic fused together to provide different grip on the rim compared to the inner flight plate material.
Innova produces disc golf discs in a wide variety of plastics and rubber-blend materials. Which plastics you like best for each type of disc may come down to personal preference (what feels best in your hand or provides the most comfortable grip), but different plastics can also produce different flight characteristics, or be more durable when throws come in contact with the basket. It helps to understand the differences when shopping for discs and building your bag.
Star—Typically considered Innova’s highest class of plastic, Star discs are strong, durable and dependable. They are made with a heavier, firmer gauge of plastic with a solid color appearance.
Swirled Star (or Swirly Star)—Some discs naturally come out of the mold a bit swirly and are often more desirable to throwers and collectors. Some Innova Star discs (especially several Tour Series lines) are intentionally made super swirly for a cool-looking appearance that can provide slightly different flight characteristics than standard Star plastic.
Splattered Star—Innova also makes Splattered Star discs that feature splatters of different colors throughout the plastic.
StarLite—This is special Star plastic with tiny microbubbles incorporated to produce much lighter-weight discs that retain the Star plastic feel that players like.
Halo—In 2020, Innova began producing a line of Halo Star discs with a beautiful plastic design that features a splattered halo of a secondary color around the rim. These have been highly popular and most will agree that Halo discs provide a more stable flight path than their counterparts in standard Star plastic.
Echo Star—Echo Star discs are made from a special blend of recycled plastic. These discs not only feel and fly great, but are also more environmentally friendly.
Champion—Champion is Innova’s other premium plastic material. It has a more translucent (see-through) quality compared to the solid Star plastics. Champion discs are also extremely durable and tend to offer a more stable flight. Over time, they beat in nicely and will usually lose a little stability.
Metal Flake—Metal Flake discs are a special type of Champion discs that are literally infused with metal flakes to create a glittery look. These tend to be even more stable than standard Champion discs.
Blizzard Champion—Basically the opposite of Metal Flake, Blizzard Champion discs are produced in much lighter weights with air bubbles in the plastic. Some players like these for max distance bombs because the lower weights and decreased stability can produce some massive flights when thrown properly.
I-Dye—Some clear Innova Champion discs are dyed in fun and colorful patterns using our unique I-Dye process.
GStar—This plastic has a nice pearlescent sheen. The plastic is more flexible and grippy, making GStar discs great for cold weather. GStar plastic generally offers a bit more glide and understability compared to Champion or Star discs.
DX—DX is Innova’s baseline plastic. It has a grippy feel and uses a softer type of plastic. DX discs aren’t as durable as other plastics, but they are great for beginners and most experienced players will still prefer DX plastic on their putt and approach discs because they have great grip and will catch the chains better than slicker plastics.
XT—XT is a tough and super-grippy plastic blend that was originally designed for overmolded discs like the Nova and Atlas. It has also been used on other molds like the Aviar because it was such a popular material.
Pro—Innova offers a number of different pro plastics, from the standard Pro blend they use for drivers to specialized putter plastic blends developed for multi-time world champs like Ken Climo (KC Pro) and Juliana Korver (JK Pro).
R-Pro—R-Pro plastic is a unique rubber blend that offers a very soft feel and flexibility. Players love the all-condition grip that’s excellent for cold weather.
Glow—For night golf, Innova has many different molds produced in a special glow-in-the-dark plastic that will help illuminate the disc. We have standard glow discs that are more of an off-white base color, and then we have colored glow plastics. The most famous color glow disc in the world is the Sexton Firebird!
Galactic—Galactic plastic is a super-swirly with an extra-firm feel. Innova uses it on some Tour Series putters.
Nexus—This is another relatively new putter plastic blend with a firm feel, but grippy texture that is great for putting in all conditions.
INNfuse—Innova has a lineup of beautiful INNfuse color stamps. These are full-color designs available for certain molds and plastics.