As the temperature drops (I’m getting tired of this phrase, especially since it’s not even officially winter yet!), the disc golfer needs to make up for the difficulties that the cold weather and elements can cause. The cold air can do a number on your hands, your discs and your body. The actual snow makes it difficult to find your discs, walk, as well as throw. It’s almost a whole different game.
Ribbons: It’s not a bad idea; taping ribbons to your discs. Of course you always need to apply the tape and ribbon indoors, where it’s warm- so the tape sticks properly. If you’re playing in really deep, and especially powdery snow, the ribbons can be the only thing preventing you from losing your discs. I’ve heard many first hand stories of discs being two feet deep in snow, and the bright pink ribbon is the only thing visible from the surface. I personally can’t stand having to coil up the ribbon carefully and gently place the disc back into the bag- making sure not to let the tape come off the flight plate. When it comes down to it, I will probably resist the whole ribbon craze until I lose one too many discs in the powder. Until then, I’ll just keep my eyes peeled.
Hand Warmers: Pretty simple step. In my opinion they’re mandatory. The cold air is harsh on your fingers- especially at that moment of ‘snap’ when you throw a big drive. It can sting like crazy. The hand warmers are better than a plain ol’ mitten or glove.
Boots and Gators: Also very simple. Dry is warm, so you need waterproof winter boots with quality gators. As an aside: I recommend using waterproofing leather spray, even if your boots are “gore-tex.” Typically Gore-Tex is a layer of the boot, and if there is a leather portion, it can still get wet. This won’t necessarily let your feet get wet, but it will hold that moisture and basically make your feet a moving refrigerator. The waterproofing spray keeps the leather dry. I’ve even stepped in a stream (up to an inch or two deep) and pulled my boot out dry after an instant to see the water all bead up and slide off. Dry is warm.
Disc Selection: Rule number one; don’t throw white discs. Even putters. Just resist the urge and do all your friends a favor. Most normal people won’t even help look for a white disc… Also, Discraft has a lot of discs available in FLX plastics. I’m not sure if they’re truly “grippier” or if it’s just the feel of the gummy plastic, but when the cold air makes discs stiffer, the FLX and soft blends of plastic are a welcome element. Innova has a blend called “XG” (short for X-tra Gummy), but hasn’t released many discs with it. For the most part, I carry a couple midrange discs that are tackier as well as a couple of “soft” wizards. The wizards aren’t that soft, but they are definitely tackier. I also mentioned in a previous article, that I enjoy carrying a wider selection of under-stable plastic. With the lack of a run up, and less power on more throws and drives, the less stable discs are more appealing.
Mental Game: Really it’s just slower. The walking is slower and harder. There is more time between throws. It can even be quieter. Do you putt better in the winter? This might because you’re slowing down more, breathing deeper and concentrating more on each shot. Is the opposite true? Maybe the winter is a good time to develop a slower putting routine. The ability to lower the heart rate, and repeat the same motions over and over for putting is key when it comes to being consistent.
No matter how you look at it, you’re forced to tweak your game. The quality of play, as well as the amount of fun you have out on the course in the winter months- it all centers around being prepared. If you’re ready for the wind, and the snow, and the temperatures- then there’s nothing left to do but play quality disc golf.