If we were to ask any disc golf related company what their company objectives are, we would get a variety of answers. Some examples would include…
- Growing the sport
- Making the best equipment
- Helping people improve
- Legitimizing the game
- Making disc golf more enjoyable
The objectives would vary from company to company. Some would be focused on players. Some would be focused on technology. Some would be focused on being innovative and unique. The lists would be of varying lengths and content. As different as each list would be, they would also have one outstanding commonality.
They would all have the exact same priority listed in the number one spot. Without exception, every company out there in the business of disc golf has the same primary goal. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist. If they didn’t they couldn’t exist. By the simple definition of being a company and being in business, they are required to be alike in this respect. Whether we like and agree with it or not, every disc golf related company in the world has one primary objective…
To make a profit.
First, let’s set a few things straight. I am not saying that the ONLY thing disc golf companies want is to make a profit. Even the briefest glance at many of them show they care deeply about our sport, the players, and the world of disc golf in general. What I am saying is that even the best intentioned and noble companies in the world MUST concern themselves with profit first. Without profit, it is literally impossible to achieve any of their other goals.
So what the heck does this have to do with building the perfect bag??? A lot.
You see, a key component of making a profit is sales and marketing. If no one knows about or wants a company’s products, no one buys them. If there are no customers buying things, companies cease to be. It’s a very simple and undeniable fact of business.
And that brings us to the point of this article. Companies must make a profit to exist. To make a profit, they have to sell stuff. To sell stuff, they have to make us think we need things….
Even when most of the time, we don’t!
Right now on infinitediscs.com there are 113 different Innova molds for sale. Does Innova have to have 113 molds to cover all the possible needs of disc golfers out there? NO. We could get rid of 50 of those tomorrow and every player could still fill their bag with Innova discs and play no worse because of it. Let’s be real. Innova has 113 different discs because people buy those 113 discs. The same can be said for the line ups of ALL the disc manufacturers. They produce a multitude of discs because that’s what sells. The more discs they make, the more they sell. The more they sell, the more successful they are.
Just look at the descriptions of each of those discs. You would think by reading them that no other disc in the world could do what that disc is described as doing. The descriptions are designed to make you think you need each and every one of them. That’s how people end up believing that they need to lug around an obscene amount plastic on every round.
To reinforce this, look at the bags these companies make. One of the first features they call out is carrying capacity. Every single company out there makes a bag (or bags) that carries 20-30 discs or more. That, combined with the sheer number of discs they make, just reinforces their hopes that you carry a lot of plastic. Every part of their merchandising and sales effort is designed to increase the number of discs you own.
This is called marketing. This is the lifeblood of any profitable company. Disc golf companies are no exception. They are really, really good at it. That’s why every time a new disc comes out, the marketing machine revs up. It’s time to convince you that you either have a hole in your line up, or that something much better than what you already have has just been released.
Look, I’m not saying it should work any differently. I wouldn’t get to play disc golf if it wasn’t for these companies making a profit. What I am saying is that if we are going to be able to build the best possible bag, we need to understand this process. We need to see that more and new doesn’t equal better. We need to understand that 90% of the time, buying or adding a new disc is not the answer. The answer lies in truly learning the discs we already have.
Having too many discs significantly limits the time spent with each disc. Always putting in new plastic makes learning each disc take a lot longer. The constant turnover of discs and molds never allows players to become exceptional with any particular disc. At best these overloaded and consistently changing bags lead to mediocrity. At worst they do actual harm to player improvement.
True mastery of any particular disc is impossible when the approach to disc selection is governed by quantity and novelty. When a player’s efforts are spread thin over a multitude of ever changing molds and discs, they rob themselves of the ability to reap the benefits of gaining a deep knowledge of any one disc.
It takes years of play with any particular mold to really get to know it. And once you put in those years, it’s very hard to replace that hard fought relationship with a new piece of plastic. I think it’s helpful to illustrate the importance of this with an example or two.
Head over to our Pro In The Bag section. Now pick any pro that has been with their sponsor for more than a few years (I would recommend checking out Ken Climo, Barry Schultz, and Steve Brinster to start). Now watch their in the bag video. Count how many newer molds are in those bags vs. molds that pro has carried forever. What you will find is that almost all of these pros play with the same molds and discs they have played with for years. They rarely add new ones. They have a long standing relationship with over 90% of the discs in their bags.
When they do add a new disc, they add ONE. And they work with that ONE for a long time. The majority of their bag stays unchanged for years. And these are players that get to try out EVERY new disc for free. They do that and they still stick with their long standing line up. That should tell you a few things:
- Most new discs don’t actually fly or work any better than a multitude of discs that have been around for years. Despite what the ads and fan boys say.
- Any new discs that are marginally better won’t result in enough improvement to warrant replacing the years of work already put into an existing mold.
- There are extremely few “game changing” discs that come out. These are discs that are truly breakthroughs and have characteristics not found in any previous offering.
And that brings us to the title of this article. Disc golf companies are not our friends. They are companies. Do they want you to improve and play better disc golf? Sure. But they want you to buy their products more than they want you to play better. And you have to remember that a big part of why they want you to play better is so that you keep playing and therefore keep buying more of their products.
Should you buy stuff from them? YES. Should you hold their need to make a profit against them? NO. The point is to become a smart consumer. The point is to only buy when you know it will help you. The point is not to buy just because something is shiny and new and is promised to “take your game to the next level”.
I want to make sure everyone understands that I love disc golf companies. I give a few of them a considerable portion of my disposable income every month. I buy their discs and their bags and their clothing and their everything else. I never feel bad that I support any of them. I WANT THEM TO MAKE A PROFIT FROM ME! I also think that almost all of them do great things for our sport. From Innova’s EDGE program to DD’s tournament sponsorships to MVP’s pushing of the technological envelope, these folks are all out there moving this great sport forward.
I don’t want to take any of that away from them. I also didn’t write this post to convince you to never buy any new discs. It’s quite the opposite. Over the coming series of articles, you may discover that you don’t, in fact, have the right discs for you in your bag. When that happens, I’m going to try to walk you through how to buy the best possible replacement.
The reason just can’t be because of hype over a new disc. It can’t be because you saw your buddy throwing a new piece of plastic well. It can’t be because you got a disc at a tournament and feel like putting it in your bag. It has to be because you have a true need for a new or different disc in your line up.
What we need to realize is that maybe the disc we need came out 20 years ago. Maybe the best driver for us is 10 years old. Maybe the putter that will be our best choice is one that’s been sitting in our garage neglected for months. Remember, new does not equal better. Slightly different also does not equal better.
All disc golf companies make products that can improve your game. You should be on the lookout for those. You should spend time figuring out when they are needed. You should spend even more time figuring out which specific products are best for you and your game. And that’s what this series of posts is for. With hundreds of discs to choose from, how can we make smart decisions? How can we not waste money? And most importantly how can we end up with discs that we can use and grow with over the many years we will play this great sport?
In other words, how do we find a way to wade through all the marketing and hype to find what will be truly beneficial to us and our enjoyment of the game?
The first steps on that journey start with figuring out what type of player we are and what our approach to building the perfect bag is based on. We take those first steps in our next article where we learn what the ancient Druids have to teach us about how we should start to decide what discs we might need in our bags. (That should leave your curiosity sufficiently piqued for next time!)
Until then, make sure you are subscribed to the blog by entering your email below. In an effort to make sure each of these posts is as good as possible, we have strayed from a regular posting schedule to one that is dictated only by when we have something quality to bring you. Make sure you don’t miss anything!
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
25 thoughts on “Building the Perfect Bag | Disc Golf Companies Are Not Your Friends”
Great article!! Very well written and so true. I see this same concern in my own situation with buying discs I don’t really need or constantly changing up my bag. However I will say that the changing of the setup in your bag is also necessary as your still learning as it will help to ensure you do find the right discs for your bag.
Wow! Great write up! I myself have been guilty of the “buy more will make you better” thought. Over the last couple of months I’ve been heavily listening to your podcasts (which are extremely helpful and fantastic by the way), looking at the discs in my bag, and focusing on my form. I became so overwhelmed that I had to step back a bit. Then you started the “building the perfect bag” series. Absolutely amazing! It opened my eyes to look deep into my discs and really choose the ones that work for me, not the ones the companies say will make me better. I can’t wait to read the next segment! Thanks again! Your posts, blogs and podcasts have been an absolute help!
Thanks James! I’m glad you are enjoying everything! I appreciate the comment and that you are keeping up with the blog!
Full disclosure: I am sponsored by Innova and a bag company (Pound Disc Golf), and I was previously sponsored by Mystery Ranch (the bag you’ve got in the picture). That said, these are my own opinions, not those of any of my sponsors.
I think the premise of your article–that the “primary objective” of companies in disc golf is to make a profit–is dead wrong. I think making a profit is likely the second or third or fourth most important reason why most folks who are in the disc golf “business” do what they do. The love of the game is the real reason–really, almost the only reason. They want to devote their lives to growing the sport, and to do that (and do it full-time, so they don’t have a day job), they also need to be able to at least make enough money to put bread on the table. And shoot, a large percentage of disc golf businesses don’t even really do that–they truly are side hobbies. Most disc golf companies have much more in common with nonprofit organizations (generating enough to pay small salaries and that’s about it) than they do with big business where profit is king. Saying a disc golf company’s main objective is to make a profit because they charge for discs and promote new discs is like saying the a museum’s main objective is to make a profit because it charges a small admission fee and advertises new exhibits. Neither the museum’s director nor the disc golf company’s owner is getting rich.
I don’t disagree that it’s better to learn with one disc, or that there are more molds out there than any one individual could ever use. But this isn’t some big secret, and the manufacturers readily admit in all of their instructional articles and videos that it’s best to start with a (very) limited bag while you’re getting into the sport. Literally the FIRST Q&A answer on Innova’s website says, if you’re a beginner: “Resist the temptation to try lots of different discs, especially high speed discs. Concentrate on learning to throw two or three lighter weight discs until you develop a feel for throwing golf discs.”
The huge variety in molds is due to different discs just working better for different players, and if the players are demanding more options, they need to be accommodated. And once you’ve been in the game for a few years, you’re going to have a “starting lineup” that is 15-30 discs deep, and you want backups for all of those that can fill in right away, when the lake on your course claims another victim. And for that you need a bag that handles that amount of weight well, like the Mystery Ranch bag you said “but seriously?!” about. This is especially true if you live in a region with any elevation gain or loss, where you really do need a backpack with some structural integrity in order to take care of your back. And I don’t know about you, but I practice with 5-10 more discs in my bag than I carry for tournament play–making a spacious, high-quality bag all the more important.
In sum: I completely agree that beginners shouldn’t go out and buy a full bag. I also agree that even when you start having lots of discs in your bag, they should mostly be different versions of the same mold, rather than a bunch of different molds. But there is no way anyone’s “in it for the money” in disc golf as their “primary objective”–they’re in it for the love of the sport.
Thanks for the very well thought out response. I love having differing opinions voiced when there is actually some thought behind them. I bet we could have a really great conversation over a beer or two!
My only comment would be to note that profit is the vehicle with which companies can pursue their passions. Yes, these companies are in the disc golf business because they love the sport. Who wants to start a company doing something they hate?! But the more profit they make, the more they can do all the other good things they want to. That means, by definition, that if they want to do as many of those other good things as possible, they have to concern themselves with profit first.
I think the trouble comes in because today’s society often deems the term “profit” to be negative. Somewhere along the line it became something bad.
I look at it differently. If you want to go out into the world and grow this great sport, help players, change the world, etc., it is your RESPONSIBILITY to earn as much profit as possible. That is the single tool that will make the most impact in your ability to do all those other things. Innova couldn’t sponsor you if they weren’t profitable. They couldn’t run the EDGE program if they weren’t profitable. They couldn’t develop courses if they weren’t profitable. While it would be nice to be able to change the world with good intentions alone, it’s simply not realistic or possible.
Thanks again for the comment and the time it took you to put it together. I really do appreciate it!
Keep ’em in the fairway,
I’m in agreement with CD here.
These companies MAY concern themselves with profit first. But they don’t “by definition” HAVE TO concern themselves with profit first as your article states.
It’s illogical to say that, because a company needs profit to prosper, it must put profit first. A company needs amazing employees to prosper. So it must put employees first. A company needs values to prosper, whatever they may be. So it must put values first. A company needs creativity to prosper. So it must put creativity first. Etc.
But a company can’t put four things first.
That said: this is hands down the best disc golf article I’ve ever read. And I think I’m just arguing semantics because I agree with 98% of what you said.
Hey Pat. I actually agree with you. It’s the old input vs output thing. The profit is the output. The things you list are the inputs that create the output. Can’t have one without the other.
Thanks for the comment and the kind words, I appreciate it!
A while ago i made a rule.
1)Stick to the putter i picked. Even if i think others might be better. Just accept that that was the putter I was “born with” and I’m have to learn to love it.
2) every time I buy a bunch of plastic, it has to include another copy of the same putter.
More of the same disc does help your game a little. It lets you get more reps in in practice. And it let’s you fuel your plastic addiction without slowing down your development too much.
….More thunderbirds please!
I’m with you Noah! If people only spent more of their dg money on duplicates of discs that already work for them (and then, of course, spend time practicing with them), they would advance much faster!
What is your putter of choice? I hear great things about the Thunderbird, but I’ve never tried it.
It’s an interesting perspective, and something I’ve heard many pros say, “simplify”, but I never see the top players actually have a simplified bag. The in-the-bag by those pros mentioned, show them to carry several identical molds that fly differently, due to wear, or slight inconsistancies in production. McBeth’s 2015 in the bag had him carying 12 unique molds, with multiples of each totaling 25 discs in all. Even Climo (who you’ve mentioned as an example has said not to change form, but change the disc for a particular shot.
An Am player like myself, doesn’t get enough time with my discs to have 5 identical midranges beat to certain degrees of wear. Especially if I’m throwing premium plastic. What I can do is instantly fill the spots with, for example, a Buzzz, Buzzz OS, and a Buzzz SS. (and multiples of those for practice) If anything, I think an AM player who goes out a couple times a week to throw, can play better with more molds. It’s enough time to figure out what they do. If you only make it out every one or two weeks then I can see where limiting a bag might be beneficial.
Hey fahoorest. I would actually argue that the pro’s bags are very simplified. Look at what they actually throw. They have a core group of about 10 lines they cover. The additional discs in their bags are either back ups or for course specific shots. I would also say that top pros have the skills to make carrying more plastic an advantage. 99% of disc golfers out there don’t. A few putters, a few mids, and a few drivers are all most players need to play quality golf. As an ex Buzzz thrower, I can tell you my game only got better when I got rid of the Wasp (the Buzzz OS of the day) and the Pro D Buzzz (the Buzzz SS of the day) and went to just a seasoned Z Buzzz. I found I could still throw all the needed shots and since I was using that one disc three times as often, I became very proficient with it. Something that never happened when I was carrying 4 different Buzzz’s.
I also want to thank you for bringing up a very important point. If you are a casual player who only gets out once every week or two, you should do whatever helps you have the most fun when you are out. At that point it’s about wringing every bit of fun out of that rare round. All bets are off at that point. Fun trumps everything else!
Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate you reading the blog!
Great article! I’ve been saying the same thing for years, I can’t believe people flock to the latest new thing and lose their mind and a First Run. For many of the discs out there only the elite player will notice the differences and be able to take advantage of them. For the rest of us our releases and arm speeds are so inconsistent any differences are due to those inconsistencies rather than the discs.
I wonder if the 113 Innova models included OOP items because those add another layer not to mention the various “runs” that people are addicted to.
One other point I’m sure you will touch on in future articles is how evolving your skills will sometimes require you to change the discs in your bag.
Thanks Frank! Yeah, it’s a scary rabbit hole to go down when you start going after certain runs, stamps, colors, and combinations of all that. You make a great point about top pros being able to use more discs than we mere mortals. I think a lot of people lose sight of that. When you are Paul McBeth and reach for a mid range on a 400′ shot, you have much different needs for plastic than the rest of us. But even then, if you look at what he actually throws, it’s a core group of about 10 discs and that’s it. The rest of his bag is mostly backups and very situational stuff based on the course he is playing.
I appreciate the comment, take care!
Spot on Subject , not often mentioned. I would qualify for having more than needed say’s the wife. Truth be told at 52 what I could not throw 6 years ago when I started now works well. The point would be as we improve our form and learn the right approach to playing the course the consistent result becomes simplicity not overwhelming choices. Overstable, understable , stable.
Living in Michigan does mean plastic does react different with temp. changes as seasons change, this is where bag changes are neccessary.
Keep up the good work fellas, my game could use all the help you can give.
Thanks Don. I would agree that we definitely grow into some discs. Or that they change the roles they play for us. Thanks for the comment!
Great Blog!!! It’s funny I found myself finally at a spot where I love my bag and feel it is finally what I need for MY game, but it is SO true that they are marketing geniuses and make you feel that you need the next great disc. So shiny so new and with a great name that resonates, especially the names Westside and MVP use. haha Keep up the great writing and I will do my part in eating everything up!
Thanks risshan! It takes a lot of self control for sure! What have you found yourself carrying lately?
OK I bought in. The title was interesting . . . but . . .this article is pure click bait (HYPE).
I have to say this is the most useless bunch of nonsense I’ve seen written about disc golf. If you have to backtrack 4 or 5 times in an article to make sure people know you really don’t believe the bull you’re writing then you probably shouldn’t write it. I never comment on articles but I had to because I felt like you wasted my time and attention.
Compared to regular golf disc golf is nowhere near the number of brands that make golf clubs or apparel. Variety is good. No shit you want to make a profit. That is inherent in every business–even a non-profit business. But anyone starting a business in disc golf does not do it for the money. They do it because they have a particular interest or skill set and love the sport. I can’t believe anyone is thinking they are going to get rich off of disc golf product.
Rather than complaining about the abundance of discs we should be grateful that someone out there is tinkering with plastic molds to create a disc that does x or y. Without a constant stream of innovation we would not have Prodigy or Legacy discs or the Justice, Thunderbird or Leopard3…and on and on.
I say “Cheers!” to the next 20 people who want to create a disc golf company that sells anything and everything. Make it better, make me better as a disc golfer, and contribute to the growth of the sport. The more businesses and brands we have will only legitimize the sport to a higher level and bring it into the fold of mainstream competitive sports. The more the better.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kris. Especially when you don’t normally do that. I always appreciate differing points of view.
I see this as the same as golf. Over the years companies had to make clubs capable of more distance, to sell products. But to do so, they made shafts longer, and reduced the loft on the club face. What did this do for the average golfer? It made mid irons as hard to hit as long irons, and made long irons unhittable! This led to a whole new category of club, the hybrid club. Meanwhile my 30 year old, higher lofted set still works fine!
Oooohh….look, a new “Warp Drive” 14 speed driver! I need one of those!
As a ball golfer who plays with 20 year old Titleist irons, I couldn’t agree more! It took me about 3 new drivers to learn my lesson there, though.
Love seeing fellow ball golfers who also love disc! Thanks for the comment!
I feel this is way too obvious to post and you may be lacking content and just whipped this up. Any 16 yr old still in high school could look at any company and come to the conclusion that they want to make a Profit. I’m sure when you go to work you the main reason is because you want money. I think this is a good article if you are writing this for your freshman business economics class.
Thanks for your comment CC.
Great article. I’m new enough at disc golf that I haven’t collected 10 more bags’ worth of discs yet. I have about 5 extra in a box, plus some practice putters, and I’ve given about 6 or 7 to my son as a starter set. But my bag is definitely a hodgepodge. I think I carry a third of my discs just because my bag can fit them. On a practice round, I’ll get some of them out for a 2nd or 3rd throw, but I don’t really need to carry them everywhere all the time.
I’m starting to settle on molds I like. I’ve bought multiple Destroyers and Firebirds because I throw those on almost every hole, and I’m going through them pretty steadily. I need to get a backup for my absolute favorite disc, my GStar Roc3 (owner of the only ace I’ve ever gotten). I’m going to need a newer Predator soon. I’m beating in the one I bought on a whim because I get it out so often. Same with my Thunderbird.
However, one of the funnest things is getting a new disc to try out. For that I am grateful that there are a ton of companies and molds to choose from. I should be more disciplined and just ask for another Roc3 (my son wants to get me a disc for Christmas) but I’ve always got a small list of discs I want to get my hands on. Because who knows? Maybe I’ll find the one that finally puts that 300 foot soft hyzer upshot within my wheelhouse. Still looking for the perfect disc for that. 🙂
Thanks for the comment. I agree, getting new discs if fun. For me it’s almost too fun! I am just finishing up selling almost all of my discs on Ebay and it’s been hard to get rid of some of them.
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