A few years ago, I discovered the sport of disc golf. I have always liked frisbee, I regularly used to throw ultimate style frisbees with friends in the park and even took a frisbee with me on a trip to New York back in 2012. It was actually in Central Park and on the beach of Coney Island that my good friend Michał and I came up with our own "precision frisbee games": awarding points to the person who manages to hit a tree trunk or the base of a light pole from a certain distance, whomever gets to X points first wins. It must have been around that time that I also saw disc golf for the first time on YouTube, and Michał and I realised that what we had come up with already existed. After that week in New York, I forgot all about it for a while, because it was only in winter 2017 that I tried disc golf for the first time. Michał and I got back into frisbee and decided to order some of the specialised discs for disc golf on Frisbeewinkel.nl: 2 putters, 2 midranges and 2 drivers. Our first disc golf course was in Sloterpark, Amsterdam. I immediately loved the game, but didn't have time to play much, until I got really hooked on disc golf in 2019 and started playing regularly. I became a member of DSA, which is the disc golf club of Amsterdam that gathers in Sloterpark, and played my first tournaments. I started watching loads of videos on the sport, particularly the tournament coverage by JomezPro and I joined the PDGA (Professional Disc Golf Association).
Above: video by JomezPro of a skins match featuring some of the top disc golf pros like Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, Eagle McMahon and Nate Sexton.
In essence disc golf is a golf variant that uses frisbees instead of balls: the goal is to get from point A to point B in as little throws as possible. Point B is not a hole, but a metal basket (also called a "polehole") to throw the disc in. Many standard golf terms have been adapted by disc golf: if you are already familiar with par, birdie, bogie, eagle, starting off the tee, driving, putting and all that good stuff, you will fit right in. Not that it is necessary to know them at all, I had never played golf in my life and did not know any of the terminology. Once you start playing disc golf, you will also start hearing other mysterious abracadabra proper to the game, like "inside the circle", "hyzer" and "anhyzer", "flippy discs", "overstable" or "understable" discs and so forth.
Disc golf uses special discs that are smaller than normal frisbees. They are specifically developed for the sport and they are not suitable to catch, but intended to throw as far or accurately as possible. There are many types of disc golf discs for different purposes and in different types of plastic. The different discs are designed to fly in different ways: curving to the left when thrown straight ("stable" or "overstable"), curving to the right ("understable" or "flippy") or simply dead straight. There are discs to throw super far with (if you "have the arm"), discs to throw upshots or approaches with and of course the putters for up close.
There is something very satisfying about throwing a disc and seeing it fly exactly as you intended. The struggle to get to that point is what really gets you hooked: it takes some time to learn how the different discs fly and it is all the more rewarding when something finally clicks and you manage the perfect flight. Throwing the disc into the chains of the basket is probably the best part of the game, as you get rewarded with a loud clatter of the chains hitting the pole. Definitely the Pavlov sort of thing.
The Netherlands has about 20 disc golf courses. I played five different ones so far: in Sloterpark (Amsterdam), Groeter Zandgat (Groet/Schoorl), Buitencentrum Almeerderhout (Almere), Van Tuyllpark (Zoetermeer) and Park Oudegein (Nieuwegein). When I was in Poland half a year ago I made sure to also play the Vesec course in the Czech Republic, just over the Polish border, close to Liberec.
AMSterdam Challenge 2020
Around the time I became a member of DSA, in the winter of 2019, Paul Sterk asked me if I would like to design a disc. Justin Long designed two new club discs with a distinctive Dutch theme (as is tradition for the DSA discs): he placed the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer in a disc golf setting, one version with her smiling at a putt being made in the background, the other one with her frowning in agony at a missed putt.
My design would be used for one of the biggest, if not the biggest, disc golf tournament in the Netherlands: The AMSterdam Challenge that will be organised in the weekend of 3-4 October 2020 (if Covid-19 allows it). Since the tournament takes places in Sloterpark and this is the disc golf course I played most on and know best, I decided I wanted to make a design that celebrates the park and its character.
I took the hill in the centre of the park as inspiration: a hill that defines hole 9, one of the signature holes of the course, since you throw from the top of the hill all the way to the other side of the grass field. It is the longest hole of the park, a par 4 that spans 209 meters (according to UDisc) from the tee to the pin with a picturesque panorama view. The hill itself is a defining feature of the park, because you cannot miss it when you walk around. On the top of it there is a big sculpture created out of weathering steel called Groot Landschap ("Grand Landscape" in English) made by Wessel Couzijn in 1974. The shape of the artwork to me resembles a giant anchor of sorts, the enormous bones of an alien creature or perhaps some kind of rock formation. Interestingly, the plaque at the bottom of the hill reads "this artwork represents nothing but itself", suggesting that the title "Grand Landscape" is not so much a description of the artwork itself but instead a hope that it should be a natural part of its surroundings. Another reason for me to choose the hill as quintessentially Sloterpark is the rabbits that you find everywhere in the park. The entire hill of hole 9 is their home, a giant warren with many holes and underground burrows.
Above: photos of the rabbits and their warren, the hill of hole 9 in Sloterpark, taken in August 2019.
Below: video impression of the hill, its rabbits and the artwork Groot Landschap (sorry for the music).
I ended up creating two versions of the design: rabbits with and without hair. At first I thought the better design was the rabbits without hair, but later I started appreciating the rabbits with hair more, as they look more real. Unfortunately the requirements for printing on discs made it clear that printing too many details close to each other could result in blurring and smudging, so DSA chose to go with the "white" rabbits in the end.
The design will be printed as hot stamps on discs by Latitude 64, a disc golf company from Sweden, which is also the main sponsor of the AMSterdam Challenge 2020. The disc mold that will be used will probably be the Opto Sapphire, a distance driver, in a variety of colours, probably also with different colours of the hot stamp. I have never thrown the Opto Sapphire, but it looks gorgeous and I am super excited about it.
The second sponsor of the tournament is Matt Moonen Arbeidsdeskundigen, so both logos were included in the design. Above the hill and the sculpture, I placed the logo of DSA, which incidentally looks like a sun in the sky.
I am excited that every player of the tournament will receive this disc, as it will be included in the player pack that each player gets at the tournament after registration and payment. A once in a lifetime disc that will become a collector's item amongst lovers of Dutch disc golf.
If you want to know more about the playing times of the tournament to come and watch or you want to participate, have a look here.
There were many stages to the design, several moments when I thought it was finished, then coming back to it to tweak something, include logos, resize certain parts for printing, and an unforeseen stage of vectorising. In the end I am happy with the design and grateful for the opportunity to design my first disc golf disc. I cannot wait to hold it in my hands and throw hole 9 with it.
Welcome to my website! My name is Kim Ouweleen, my artist pseudonym is Murugandi.