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Throwback to the Future with Super Class Discs

Super Class is a newly defined category of super-sized golf discs that may weigh up to 200 grams, have bigger rim heights more like catch discs

, and a minimum diameter over an inch larger than our long distance drivers.

Photo shows the rims and size of a regular white hi-tech driver compared with an orange Zephyr at the smaller end of Super Class sizes and a white Ultra-Star at the larger end.

Throwback to the Future with Super ClassTM
by Chuck Kennedy

OK, some of you have heard rumblings regarding the new option for PDGA sanctioned events coming in 2009 called Super Class. Super Class is a newly defined category of super-sized golf discs that may weigh up to 200 grams, have bigger rim heights more like catch discs, and a minimum diameter over an inch larger than our long distance drivers. Super Class will add something new to the existing mix of the almost 1000 disc golf events TDs have been sanctioning. In fact, PDGA members can earn a whole new Super Class rating separate from their regular PDGA rating.

Yes, it's truly a throwback to the future. Super Class discs will initially be based on the larger diameter Frisbee®  discs we've all played catch with, but molded in much heftier golf weights to work well in the wind and penetrate chain baskets. Presto! By throwing a variety of Super Class discs that don't fly as far as typical golf discs, many of our shorter par 3 courses now turn into true golf challenges with everything from par 3s, 4s, 5s and even some 6s. Using Super Class discs, the winning balance tilts more toward touch and accuracy versus technology and power.

Mostly Par 3 Courses
We keep hearing that the future of this sport is the installation of more courses that have more par 4s and 5s like ball golf. However, we're still only adding a small percentage of longer courses each year. The average course SSA (Scratch Scoring Average) in 1999 was 49.5 for all PDGA events. It only increased by 2 throws to 51.5 in 2007 after 9 years of new course development. Will it take another 10 years just to move up to a 54 SSA average on tour? Even then, that still means par 3 golf for most players.

There's no question the popularity of par 3 disc golf has fueled a 25-year boom in this sport that's been growing at an annual clip over 15%. However, the game being played today is mostly a limited version of real golf with a relatively small percentage of courses with true par 4s and 5s, especially for mid-amateur and better players. It's closer to disc darts or bowling. Locals can dial in a specific disc in their bag to park each hole. Throw it properly and they score a 2. If they're slightly off, they score a 3. Doinking a putt results in some 4s. True par 4 holes are mainly found on some wooded courses. Of course, I'm talking about par for those who have been playing a while. Many par 3 courses can still be challenging for beginners and rec players no matter how short.

With perhaps 80% of our existing courses not able to expand and offer more par 4s and 5s, many of them have become outdated for higher level golf disc competition. Many are bypassed by TDs for leagues and events. Their potential to attract outside revenue into the community is reduced. These lesser used courses may progressively become wasted assets for our sport let alone their potential to fall into disrepair and possible removal by parks departments.

Super Class competitions are a way to reinvigorate these courses and reestablish the original version of our game that's a little more golf-like and more accessible to a much wider population. New players used to playing catch can easily throw these heavier frisbee-like Super Class discs without any pressure to learn regular golf discs right away. In fact, some of their catch discs may already be legal for Super Class events. With the PDGA governing body sanctioning Super Class events, it not only helps legitimate the use of catch discs on our existing courses, but will hopefully encourage play from the shorter sets of tees which can be challenging for even our best players using Super Class plastic.

Players skilled with discs approved by the UPA for ultimate will be very competitive in Super Class events. Ultimate players can become immediately successful without learning new plastic. Super Class provides the ideal scenario for ultimate players to cross-train where they can practice several of their throwing skills using the same disc they use for ultimate. With much higher numbers of women playing ultimate than disc golf, the crossover potential to Super Class could really boost the number of women who also play disc golf even if they mostly play Super Class events.

Super Class Events
Our exploratory group - Pete May (#12700), David Greenwell (#962), Barrett White (#16737), Dan Doyle (#310), Dan Roddick (#003) and Chuck Kennedy (#4949) has been developing this concept for the PDGA. We already ran the Kenwood Klassic in early September as our first Super Class test event. Timmy Gill won it throwing an Ultra-Star and putting with 125g Sky Pro. Many other players used Zephyrs and 50 molds from the player packs. Here are the results with unofficial Super Class ratings:  

The Sanctioning fee for Super Class events in 2009 will be just $25 regardless of tier. In addition, there is no $10 non-member fee! Non-members pay the same player fees as members which will be the same as the equivalent tier level for regular events ($2-$3-$4, C-B-A). The fees and requirements have been set lower than regular events in 2009 to encourage TDs and clubs to give these events a try.

We will be running a sanctioned Super Class league in the Twin Cities starting January 11th. Super Class discs make a lot of sense in the winter with shorter distances and (non-white) SC discs being much easier to find in the snow.

Super Class Discs
Disc models that meet the proposed Super Class guidelines are shown in the table below. Manufacturers will soon be reviewing the proposed Tech Specs for Super Class with the goal to have them approved by the Board for implementation by this January 1.

MANUFACTURER DISC MODEL Outside Diam (cm) Rim Depth (cm) Rim Depth / O.D. Rim Config. Rim Thick (cm) Max. Wt. (g)
Innova-Champion Super Nova 27.5 2.2 8.00% 112.5 0.6 200
Dynamic Discs Floater 27.5 2 7.30% 106.5 0.6 200
Innova-Champion Pulsar 27.5 2 7.30% 93.5 0.8 200
Wham-O / DTW Master 27.5         200
Disc Golf Aotearoa The New Zealand 175 gram Ultimate Disc 27.3 1.9 7.00% 94.25 0.7 200
Discraft Ultra-Star 27.3 2 7.30% 88.25 0.7 200
Wham-O / DTW The Tool (T501 Mold)  27.1 2.1 7.70% 96.75 0.7 200
Daredevil Discs Gamedisc 27.1 2 7.40% 94.5 0.7 200
Wham-O / DTW 90 Mold 27 1.8 6.70% 94.75 0.5 200
Wham-O / DTW 165g (80 Mold, High Rigidity) 26.9 1.9 7.10% 94.75 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Midnight Flyer (80 mold series) 26.9 1.9 7.10% 94.75 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Midnight Flyer (80 mold) 26.9 1.9 7.10% 94.75 0.6 200
Discraft Sky-Styler 26.7 2.1 7.90% 109.25 0.6 200
Innova-Champion Apple 26.4 2 7.60% 93.25 0.7 200
Wham-O / DTW 141g (50 Mold) 25.9 1.8 6.90% 101.5 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Midnight Flyer (50 Mold series) 25.9 1.8 6.90% 101.5 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Super Pro (60 Mold) 25.5 1.8 7.10% 86 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Midnight Flyer (100 mold) 24.9 1.8 7.20% 97.25 0.6 200
Wham-O / DTW Olympic/Collegiate (100 Mold series) 24.9 1.8 7.20% 97.25 0.6 200
Discraft Sky Pro 24.1 1.6 6.60% 89 0.5 200
Discraft Skystar 24.1 1.6 6.60% 89 0.5 200
Innova-Champion Zephyr 24.1 1.7 7.10% 83 0.7 200
Wham-O / DTW Professional (all molds) 23.9 1.7 7.10% 89 0.6 198.4
Wham-O / DTW Fastback (all molds) 23.7 1.7 7.20% 79.5 0.6 196.7
Wham-O / DTW Midnight Flyer (Fast Back) 23.7 1.7 7.20% 79.5 0.6 196.7
Innova-Champion Hero Disc Type 235 23.7 2.8 11.80% 77.75 0.6 196.7
Disc Golf Aotearoa Te Moko 23.7 2.3 9.70% 74.5 0.7 196.7