As many of you are aware, I play a lot of disc golf in the dark. There are many reasons for this, but ultimately it is just a bunch of fun. The main tools for playing disc golf on the night shift are: UV flashlight and glow discs. Not all glow discs are created equal, I know this because I own several.
WHO MAKES THE BEST GLOW DISCS??
I do not even bother to take the Discraft glow discs from my daytime bag – the discs are not up to the task of night time play. Innova makes a ton of glow plastic, it is good enough to throw at night, but it is not excellent. The Innova DX plastic is better than the champion glow I have seen, but my champion glow plastic does see use at night.
For me the standard has been Lightning golf discs glow plastic. Recently a friend introduced me to Gateway superglow plastic and it is impressive. So I did the science thing: I put a Gateway Warlock and a Lightning #3 Hookshot into the bathtub charged them equally with a 9 LED UV flashlight and shut the bathroom door – who would glow the longest? At two hours the Lightning disc was at a feeble glow and the Gateway disc was glowing strong. At five hours the Gateway disc was still glowing while the lightning disc was done. Even though the Gateway disc had the longest glow, the Lightning disc was brighter and charged faster. Ultimately, this experiment means nothing because each run of glow plastic is different in: feel, firmness, glow, etc, AND last time I checked (and I check often), I play very little disc golf in the bathroom!
The best glow disc will depend on where and when you throw. I have played nighttime rounds in the Las Vegas area where there was so much light pollution that you could follow brightly colored non-glow discs at 1 am. I have also played on courses where it is so dark that any charged glow disc can be found easily. In between these extremes is where the glow performance becomes an issue. While the Gateway discs glow longer, I think in real world situations glowing longer than an hour is not helpful. I should have found my disc by then. That said nobody uses a UV reactive foil for stamping discs, but it would make searching for discs much easier. As would top and bottom stamping discs with a UV reactive foil – so regardless of disc orientation it would light up when I hit it with my UV flashlight. Another important issue is disc feel, both Lightning and Gateway discs feel grippy which is important when you are playing on a cold, frosty night (or even 60 degrees and dew). The discs also need a certain amount of durability – you may hit a tree in the dark.
The best glow disc isn’t made yet, but I can strongly recommend Lightning and Gateway glow plastic. I also strongly recommend you go throw some tonight.
During the big November 2013 road trip, I played quite a few rounds at night. Night rounds on unfamiliar courses and in towns I do not know can be an exhilarating experience. I have yet to have a problem, but I still keep my eyes open – I do not want to spend a night in jail (or worse). I wanted to play the Deer Run Park Disc Golf Course in Sidney, NE. As I drove through a really nice neighborhood on my way to the park, I thought this course might not welcome strangers to come in the dead of night and throw plastic. I parked my car a clandestine distance from the park and stealthily crept through the trees to the park to try to figure out how the course was laid out – no one could see me and only the UV light and glow discs would give away my presence.
And then I saw the light(s)!
The baskets and tee pads had solar-battery powered lights installed on them! Sidney, Nebraska had laid out the welcome mat for me and the entire cohort of “disc golfers of the night”! I stood up a little straighter and thoroughly enjoyed a night-time round of disc golf in Sidney, Nebraska, a town that has embraced those of us who prefer to throw glow discs.