In the late fall and early winter, as daylight gets shorter and evenings grow chillier, many disc golfers retreat into their homes to hibernate for the off-season. This article is a guide to finding glimmers of light during those dark days with glow disc golf tips.
An enjoyable glow round is all about preparation. Many dangers lurk in the darkness. Phantom roots and debris can reach up and grab an ankle, invisible branches can poke an eye, and black depths of bushes can swallow up poorly lit discs. You need to acquire the right gear to stay safe and have fun during a night round.
Follow these tips, and rather than dreading a dormant off-season, you'll look forward to an active glow season.
Shop for Glow Plastic
There is something magical about a glowing disc streaking like a comet through the night sky. While other options below offer functionally the same experience, nothing beats the pure fun of a fully lit disc.
So which plastic burns brightest and stays charged longest? Kastaplast's K1 Glow and MVP's Eclipse 2.0 are the strongest glow blends on the market, and it's not close. These beacons of light will stay glowing for several holes of play.
Glow plastics from other manufacturers are not necessarily bad choices. They will just need more frequent rechargings. For a side-by-side comparison of glow plastic performance across various companies, check out this video:
Grab a UV Flashlight
A quality UV flashlight is essential if you go the glow plastic route. Any version will get the job done, but in my personal experience, MVP's Eclipse UV Flashlight is the best option. A quick blast from this extra-large flashlight will illuminate the disc for several minutes, or at least long enough to catch up to it on the fairway.
While it is possible to use a standard flashlight, it will not light up the disc nearly as quickly or strongly as the instant glow imbued by the UV light. A regular flashlight can also be distracting. Its brilliance will force the eyes to constantly re-adjust to the surrounding darkness.
Roll With Glow Tape
A roll of glow tape is a solid option for your first night round. Quality tapes will stay lit for hours and allow you to carry your regular disc lineup. Glow tape is the cheapest and easiest option for a spur-of-the-moment night round.
There are a few drawbacks to glow tape. Unless you mummify the disc, the tape will light up only a small surface area. The disc will be harder to find and, unless it is flying at a severe angle, will be difficult to track for portions of its flight. Cleaning off the sticky residue can also be a pain.
Attach a Mini LED Light
Another option is to grab a small LED light and tape it to the disc. These are about the size of a Christmas tree light and will have minimal effect on flight characteristics. They pair best with translucent plastic like Innova's Champion blend, where a well-placed LED under the flight plate will illuminate the disc.
The primary benefit of LEDs is they do not require repeated charging. The obvious downside is it can fly off the disc during flight or upon contact. Several vendors sell these lights specifically for disc golf.
Light up the Basket
The best tool for this job is a flashlight with a magnet, such as this one. Attach it to the inside of the top band and light up the basket like a Christmas tree. It will make upshots and putts much easier, and the ambient glow of the target will add to the experience. It's also easy to carry from hole to hole.
Other options include hanging a glow stick or LED keychain in the chains, balancing a standard flashlight on top of the basket, or simply using your phone's flashlight tool. These all work, but the light is going to be faint. Nothing beats the ease of use and eye-popping illumination a pocket-sized magnet flashlight offers.
Light Up the Bag
On more than a few occasions, I've dropped my bag and walked to my lie, only to turn around and suddenly realize my bag has disappeared in the darkness. Attach a glow stick, keychain light, or a strip of glow tape to the bag and never suffer the embarrassment of fumbling around in the dark, desperately searching for a bag 20 feet away.
Minimize Your Disc Selection
During our first glow rounds, we all become disc golf minimalists. You likely won't have a full arsenal of glow discs, so you'll want to grab just a few versatile discs to use on every hole.
Leave the ultra-long-range speed demons at home on a wooded course with lots of underbrush. Faster discs are more challenging to track, and an errant kick off an invisible tree can send your max distance driver off into a black void from which it will never return.
It is also practical to go super old school and carry just a midrange and a putter. The slower discs will not only make finding your throws easier to track in the dark, but they are also more likely to stay in the fairway. When they inevitably ricochet off a tree, they won't kick quite as far away. It helps your score and sanity to dial it back, keep it smooth, and slowly glide down the center fairway.
Choose the Right Course
If you're unfamiliar with a course, blindly hucking discs into a black abyss can be more frustrating than fun. Tunnel shots on heavily wooded courses can also be a nightmare, especially if you happen to kick off the fairway.
The ideal course for a glow round is a relatively wide open course with a short layout. If there isn't a course nearby that fits the bill, choose a track with familiar flight lines and fairway shapes.
Some lone wolves may play solo night rounds, but glow golf is best as a communal experience. Not only does an extra pair of eyes come in handy for tracking throws and searching for discs, but a group member can also run ahead and light up the basket. A pre-lit target improves the glow experience exponentially.
Focus on Safety
“Throwing blind” takes on another level of meaning during night rounds. Always ensure the area ahead is clear before taking a shot (this is particularly important if the course is in a mixed-use park where non-disc golfers may be present). If the course is busy, it's also a good idea to wear a glow stick or LED keychain light on your clothes.