Q: Why do heavier discs fly better in hotter weather and lighter discs fly better in the cold?
A: Your question merges two fundamental questions of disc golf. First, how does temperature affect a discs' flight? And second, what difference does the weight of a disc make?
Temperature impacts disc golf in four ways.
1) We wear more clothing in cold weather, which restricts our throwing motion
2) Cold weather, not to mention ice and snow, often makes it harder to get the solid footing we need for optimum throwing power
3) We're not as physically loose in the cold, whereas warm weather improves our range of motion and our "snappiness"
4) Finally, colder temperatures make the air our discs fly through denser air, and hence slows them down
The weight of a disc, on the other hand, impacts how much arm speed we can generate. A lighter disc will go faster, farther and be more understable. In general, it will also be harder to control, and more susceptible to wind, nerves and imperfections in your throwing motion.
But that's just our opinion. Here's what the real experts have to say.
Dave Dunipace of Innova:
I have to assume that "better" means "longer". There is a temperature phenomenon with some discs, which changes their flight characteristics slightly. Most say that their discs get more stable in the colder weather. I have noticed this at times, but it is not consistent.
What is more likely, in my opinion, is that the thrower is throwing harder in warmer weather. In colder weather, the thrower is likely to be more bundled up and not as loose. Additionally, there may be poorer footing in colder weather with damp ground or snow. Also, it is much more difficult to get a real good grip on a cold disc, with cold fingers. All of these things together could take significant speed off a throwers normal velocity and make his discs appear to fly differently.
The discs would appear to tail off more quickly and not go near as far. Throwing lighter weight discs could compensate for this.
Steve Pearson of Quest:
I think he has it backward, air is more dense in the cold and less dense in warm and even less dense in higher altitudes. A light plane will take off at 50 mph on a cold weather day and 70 mph in the summer.
Testing I did in Bowling green with a Ultralight Raging Inferno Dt and a full weight RIDT showed a significant launch speed difference between the two with the same person throwing. The ULRIDT launched up to 15 mph more than the RIDT . The increased speed of the lighter disc should help with the lift needed in the hot weather and in high altitudes.
Dave McCormack of Gateway
Personally I think that the answer applies to all weights of discs rather than lighter versus heavier.
It is also a easier to throw longer when you are warmer for several obvious reasons mostly to do with muscles and tendon bounce.
When it's hotter out, there is a certain amount of thermal updraft coming from the ground which helps keep the discs in the air longer.
There could be something to do with humidity and barometric pressure that could help or restrict the flight of a disc.
Torque Novitski, Marshall Street