High Altitude Disc Golf in Tahoe: Tips & Tricks to Playing at Elevation

 These tips and tricks come from Justin Weilacher, a friend of TMS and avid disc golfer (PDGA #41309) residing in Sacramento, CA. With extensive knowledge of the game from years of experience playing in a variety of environments and weather conditions, Justin is a great resource for all sorts of disc golf advice. Read more from Justin at his blog, http://dbfreediscgolf.wordpress.com.

Bijou Disc Golf Course
Bijou Disc Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe

One of the coolest things about disc golf is how the flight characteristics of your discs change as the elevation changes. This facet of disc golf adds an element of challenge to the game that few other sports have. There are many tricks that can help you adapt to this change in flight patterns that you might find useful during your next trip to the Tahoe disc golf courses.


Driving from the tee and the fairway will be where you can sense the most dramatic difference in flight characteristics. At the Tahoe courses, you will quickly see that your driver discs are far more stable than when you are at your home course closer to sea level. There are a couple ways to combat this shift in stability on your drives.

First, you can ‘disc down’ to a less stable disc. If you frequently throw a Destroyer (-1,3) at sea level you might decide to throw a Tern (-2,2) instead. The lower turn will keep your disc straighter and the lower fade will keep the disc dropping to the ground more like you are accustomed. Second, you can throw the same disc but reduce the weight of the disc. The lower weight will allow you to spin the disc faster which will keep the disc closer to its fade and turn numbers.

The third option is the one I prefer; I don’t switch out a lot of discs in my bag. I will replace a Firebird with a FL – Firebird long. Other than that, I keep with the same disc types but pull my beat discs out of storage to replace my existing discs. This accomplishes most of what disc-ing down accomplishes because the beat-up discs are already floppier than their newer counter-parts. It also lowers the weight slightly as they have lost a few grams due to wear. Finally, disc-ing down preserves my current disc’s flight characteristics. I throw almost exclusively Innova Star plastic because I like the way the discs wear out. This allows me to carry discs at multiple states of wear which fills niches in my driving strategy. If you throw some of the softer plastics like I do, your current bag selection will not throw the same after a long weekend of serious Tahoe disc golf. So pull out some of your old plastic or pick up a couple more under-stable options at Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Hole 13 Bijou Disc Golf
Hole 13 and wildflowers at Bijou Disc Golf Course


Changes in your short game are the trickier adjustments to make. It’s easy to see the way your disc flies differently over 300+ feet. Short approaches and putts that you make with straight mid-range discs and putters turn out much differently at higher elevation than your drivers do. The nature of mids and putter discs is that the discs do not fade very hard so you don’t have to make that adjustment. What these discs do, however, is drop to the ground a lot faster than you are accustomed; disc changes don’t combat this difference very well. An older Innova Roc is not going to stay in the air any longer than a newer one, though a far lighter Roc might.

Driving adjustments are usually best made with equipment, but putting adjustments should be made with technique.

I frequently find myself over-correcting my short game, expecting the disc to bite to the left faster like my drives do. Instead, when I over-correct they sail past my target or landing zone toward the right, sometimes leaving me with the same, if not worse, come-back putt. What I need to do is not keep the same line I would normally have chosen, but pick a link or two higher on the basket or increase the nose-angle of my approach. This can sometimes be the most difficult change to make to your game.

Bijou Disc Golf Course
Local artwork at Bijou Disc Golf Course

Fitness and Gear:

The Tahoe area has many quality disc golf courses to choose from, but before you go there are some basic fitness goals you should have in mind before you play. The Tahoe disc golf courses are all in the high desert. Flight characteristics are not the only differences you should keep in mind. The conditions are most frequently very dry and the winds can be quite active. These factors will combine to dehydrate you faster than you may be accustomed to at home. The thinner air will also get you winded faster than usual.

Fitness is always important, but it is most important to keep hydrated throughout your round. I usually bring as much water as I can carry. Try to drink a little water in between each hole rather than fill up a couple times per round. Maintaining hydration will keep your throws strong and consistent. You should prepare for a higher cardio-vascular requirement; that preparation will keep your game consistent so you can hike up and down the many elevation changes that make the Tahoe courses so excellent.

While you may bring towels on your rounds at your home course, they serve a different purpose in Tahoe and you might need more than you think. It can be very dusty in the high desert; there are brooms on every tee pad at the Bijou Disc Golf Course. Your discs will require constant wiping. I also keep one disc golf towel damp because you might need some moisture to get your disc as grippy as you like. In addition to all that, I always have a third towel or handkerchief to get wet and drape over my head and neck on hotter days. This can really help keep you cool. Pack some high altitude sunscreen and maybe even some high socks or gaiters to protect your legs from brambles and keep stones out of your shoes. Prepare properly and there is a good time to be had for all in the high elevation disc golf courses of the Tahoe area.

Click here to read Justin’s detailed blog about playing Tahoe Vista’s Lake Of The Sky disc golf course.

Innova Skillshot Portable Target
MSRP: $148.95

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