The RPM Open, held on the 1st of June at the Lille Leland course in southern Norway, proved to be a remarkable showcase of skill, teamwork, and passion. The event brought together players from all over, creating an electric atmosphere. Stian Johnsen, Elvis Sveiven, and Paul Black from Team RPM, all enjoyed the event and shared their thoughts with us.
Stian Johnsen, the driving force behind the event and Lille Leland property owner (with his wife Lene), expressed his gratitude for the collective effort that went into preparing the course. He acknowledged the valuable assistance of Paul Black and the local volunteers, as well as the volunteers who traveled all the way from El Paso, Texas. Stian credited them for making the event truly special and unique. He remarked, “The local volunteers and the volunteers coming all the way from El Paso Texas were the heart of this year’s event.”
Lene Løvsland Johnsen, Stian’s wife, played a pivotal role in managing the spotters and volunteers, ensuring the smooth execution of the event. Stian reflected on her contributions, saying, “Lene managed all the spotters and volunteers and pretty much ran the whole event.” Her dedication and organizational skills were instrumental in creating an awesome experience for players and spectators alike.
Elvis Sveiven, one of our Crown players, shared his journey leading up to the event. Despite his initial nervousness, he found his stride during the practice rounds, ultimately delivering an impressive performance on the challenging Lille Leland course. Going into the second day, he was tied for first in the MPO division. Reflecting on his experience, Elvis stated, “The second practice day, I played under par, which is really something special to do on the Lille Leland course.” His exceptional gameplay during the tournament placed him on the lead card, joining the prestigious Gold Club. Elvis’s resilience and consistent performance throughout the event showcased his potential as a rising disc golf star. His gameplay can be viewed on the Gatekeeper Media coverage of the event.
Paul Black’s enthusiasm for the event was adamant as he relayed his excitement in his response: “I knew I would do everything I could to return.” His commitment extended beyond his role as a player, as he actively assisted Stian in the preparations a week before the tournament. He emphasized the profound impact of the event, saying, “Lille Leland is heaven… The buzz being generated around this event and the course at Lille Leland is warranted.”
The RPM Open garnered high praise from players and spectators alike. The challenging course design, combined with the picturesque setting, captivated participants. Commentators Thomas Gilbert and Eric Oakley hailed the Lille Leland course as the future of disc golf, emphasizing its uniqueness and the need for versatile skills. Stian’s vision to enhance players’ abilities with the course is evident. He shared the feedback received, stating, “Many said that they learned so much about their game from playing here… Some said it is the best competition course in Europe.”
The RPM Open proved to be a resounding success, leaving a lasting impression on the players and the disc golf community. Stian’s commitment to course improvement and his collaboration with top players and tournament directors showcases his passion for the sport. With each edition, the RPM Open promises to deliver a great experience for all involved. Be sure to watch the RPM Open coverage on Gatekeeper Media. Video provided below.
Stian Johnsen's Full Recount of the RPM Open
We worked hard to prepare the course for this year’s RPM Open, with valuable help from Paul Black, who arrived a week early. The local volunteers and those coming all the way from El Paso, Texas, were the heart of this year’s event, making it truly special and unique for the players. My wife, Lene Løvsland Johnsen, managed all the spotters and volunteers, practically running the whole event, while I ensured the players were properly sent off from the tee. To make this one of the greatest events, we enlisted the best Tournament Director in Europe, Timo Juursalu, who came from Estonia.
The Halfway Café, located between holes 9 and 10, was a huge success. Players could grab drinks, snacks, cakes, or similar treats while taking a short break before tackling the rest of the course. Players were extremely happy and praised the course, considering it was only two years in the making. Many mentioned how much they learned about their game from playing here, with some even calling it the best competition course in Europe. PDGA Europe even described it as potentially the toughest pro-level course on the continent.
Commentators Thomas Gilbert and Eric Oakley mentioned in the coverage that the course represents the future of disc golf, where you never throw the same shot twice. It requires every skill of a disc golfer to come out on top. My wife Lene, our kids Kasper and Felix, and I are thrilled with how the event turned out. We didn’t receive a single complaint from the players. We had a chef on-site every day, providing free meals for the players. RPM has been amazing in supplying the best baskets we’ve ever encountered, along with other small things that supported our course and vision. The players’ feedback on the baskets was that they were probably the best they had ever played on.
Elvis Sveiven's Full Recount of the RPM Open
Monday afternoon, my trip started by taking the train to Gothenburg, where I would be spending half the night before being picked up at 3 in the morning. From there, a 9-hour car ride awaited us, which led to the nerves building up and my confidence starting to wane. Considering I had just finished fifth at the Lundbyparken Open, another A-tier event, and averaging 1000+ on that event, I had high expectations for myself. But I also knew I was going to play this event on the feature card.
After the first practice day, I lost 3 discs and played the course well over par. On the second practice day, I got revenge and played under par, which is really something special to do on the Lille Leland course.
On the first day of the tournament, the cameras were rolling. I played together with Hjalte Jensen, Morten Brenna, and fellow RPM teammate Paul Black. The last time I was filmed, I completely crumbled, so the nerves kicked in quickly. I started the round by barely saving a bogey on the first hole, a 260-meter par 3, with a ridiculous height drop. On the second hole, I got a birdie from 15 meters, which gave me all the confidence in the world, and I knew I came to play. With little to no mistakes on the drives, my round began to feel like something special, and the highlights kept rolling in. I finished the round at -1, joining the Gold Club, and being tied for the lead with Josef Berg, Roni Rönkkanen, and Fritiof Fagergren.
Sleeping on a lead at an A-tier was rough, which became obvious with me taking a triple bogey on the first hole. I was almost completely out of the discussion for the win and started fighting to remain on the lead card for the last round. My putts were hitting the basket on almost every attempt, but unfortunately, the most important ones did not stick. I finished the round tied for fourth but would play the last round on the chase card.
In the last round, I once again played with my good friend Fritiof Fagergren. I also had my travel buddy Gustav Dahlén on the card, together with Hjalte Jensen, so I knew it would be a fun one. I had a rough start to the round, but the lighthearted mood and constant humor from one another kept my spirits high. I began a birdie streak on the last few holes, fighting my way up to fifth place and a 1002 average.
This makes it back-to-back 1000+ rated events and back-to-back 5th place finishes in A-tier tournaments. Now the Swedish Open awaits me at the end of the month, where I am fighting for a spot at the European Open.
Paul Black's Full Recount of the RPM Open
RPM Open 2023: A Big Success
Ever since playing in the first-ever RPM Open at Lille Leland in southern Norway last year, I knew I would do everything I could to return. So this year, I booked my flight to arrive a week early to assist Stian Johnsen in preparing for the event. After two long days of travel, Stian met me at the train station, and after some pizza and a quick look at the RPM plastic in the barn, he and his wife Lene, who runs horse camps on the farm, arranged for me to stay in their son Kasper’s room. Even at midnight, the twilight persisted at the 58th parallel, one month away from the summer solstice. The birds began chirping at 3:30 a.m., followed by the rooster at 4:00. Despite the early wake-up call, I managed to get some quality sleep, and in the morning, I enjoyed fresh eggs from the hens and freshly ground coffee, surrounded by the cheerful Norwegian family. Lille Leland truly felt like heaven.
While savoring the aromatic coffee, I had the chance to catch up with Lene and Stian. I informed them that I was ready to contribute and open to any job offers. Stian half-jokingly mentioned that he knew people and could probably find me a job, but felt it was a little early for a full-time farm manager. Surprisingly, just two weeks later, I became the “course manager,” and shortly after that, the “course pro.” The next day, I found myself guiding Dutch tourists and offering pro-tips for a small fee. Things moved swiftly here, but there was never a sense of rush or stress.
The preparation for the tournament followed a similar pattern. The first day was packed with activities. After breakfast with the family and presenting gifts to Felix and Kasper (ages 6 and almost 8) — dyed discs, a Tui, and a Takapu — we began constructing two large warm-up nets for the players (a proper driving range is planned for next year). Following that, Stian instructed me to get into the tractor.
“Do you know how to drive a tractor?” he asked.
“Uh, no,” I sheepishly replied. Nevertheless, I found myself at the controls, lifting and maneuvering, and after not damaging anything and successfully turning off the intimidating beast, I proudly declared, “I’m a man now!”
Stian burst into hearty laughter, and I felt a sense of admiration.
Later that evening, Lene, his wife, shared with me, “When I met Stian, he couldn’t build anything. He didn’t know how to drive a tractor.” I found this revelation surprising. Prior to becoming a homesteader and a disc golf course designer, he worked as a D.O.P.
“What’s a D-O-P?” I inquired.
“Director of Photography,” she replied, referring to his involvement in the film industry. Currently, Stian films and edits commercials for clients, and he is the creator and director of the new show “Magic of Disc Golf,” which recently premiered on Disc Golf Network. With eight episodes already released and season two in the works, he predicts that Discovery Network will pick it up, given the viewership and the leverage he needs to pitch and fund the second season. I have no doubt that “Magic of Disc Golf” will provide the resources to support other endeavors at Lille Leland, such as additional courses, cabins, kids’ camps, and more high-level events. This is just the beginning.
After trimming landing zones, printing caddy books, filming hole previews, and tackling a dozen other tasks over the next few days, the course and the tournament were ready to go.
As an RPM player, and perhaps not because of my player rating or notoriety, Stian placed me on the feature card, which would be filmed by Gatekeeper Media. I felt the pressure to perform well, knowing that my family, friends, and club back home (along with thousands of strangers) would be watching. It felt like my big break, and as I stood on the elevated tee-pad of hole one, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn’t overly nervous. The atmosphere was simply incredible. I had the privilege of playing with Danish superstar Hjalte Jensen, emerging Norwegian talent Morten Brenna, and fellow RPM player Elvis Sveiven, who shot an impressive one-under-par that day. Hole one, with its steep downhill and 250-meter distance, stood out as one of the most iconic holes on any course worldwide. However, every hole at Lille Leland felt like a signature hole. The course offered a delightful mix of fun, towering downhill shots, technical par 3s, long and scenic undulating fairways, and challenging greens. It was both enjoyable and demanding, capable of exposing weaknesses in any player’s game. If someone was serious about improving, this was the place to train. A Norwegian player who recently visited even purchased a lifetime membership for that very reason — he was determined to elevate his game.
From the first tee-off song to the players’ party at the event’s conclusion, there were constant smiles and laughter. The feedback from players was overwhelmingly positive. They loved the course design and the beauty of the location, praised the RPM baskets (the new Helixes), enjoyed the lodging arrangements, relished the food served after each round, and were grateful for the volunteers’ assistance in spotting. The overall atmosphere was convivial and welcoming. The buzz surrounding this event and the course at Lille Leland was well-deserved. Stian continued to enhance the course, taking into account feedback from top players. Every detail was carefully considered. He even brought in one of Europe’s finest tournament directors, Timo Juursalu (known for his work on the Alutaguse Open), to oversee the RPM Open, and I suspect Timo will be back next year. Just two days after the event, we were already making improvements to the course. The chainsaw and trimmers were in use as we designed and created a more beginner-friendly Red and White layout, ensuring that players of all skill levels could enjoy the course.
Following the release of the Gatekeeper Media coverage on YouTube two weeks later, Stian made even more observations for further enhancements. There’s no doubt that next year’s RPM Open is an event not to be missed, and I’ll be making my travel plans as soon as I return home.