The International, Amsterdam Course Review

Golfmagic tees up on one of Holland's finest

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 18 Sep 2013

JOOST LUITEN might well be proving the future is bright and the future is orange for Dutch golf right now, but so are the country's golf courses.

There was no better example of that when I was afforded the luxury of teeing up on The International during a FootJoy press launch earlier this month. This brand new Amsterdam parkland beauty that was completed just last year is located next to Schiphol Airport - a stone's throw from Amsterdam's Zuidas business district.

Designed by 29-time European Tour champion Ian Woosnam, this 6,700-yard par-73 track (off the back tees) requires a premium on strategy rather than power.

After two relavitvely simple opening holes with a short par-5 preceding a driver-wedge to the par-4 second, things start getting a little more interesting at the picturesque par-5 third, played across an idyllic lake and giant tree guarding the centre of the fairway, and once again with a short 8-iron tee shot across another lake at the fourth.

The third and fourth holes aren't just demanding in the sense you have to commit 100% to hitting across the ripples but you need a dab hand on the greens as giant elephants appear to have been buried under both greens.

I'm only joking about the elephants, but this is a very undulating golf course, as the victorious 2006 European Ryder Cup captain understood from the moment he put pen to paper.

"I am very excited to be involved on a golf course in the Netherlands which has a rich history of golf," he said.

"We are also very fortunate to have an undulating piece of land and will be building a championship course which will be playable by golfers of all levels."

The greens really are the design feature of this course. Some are 60 metres deep, and as I've already mentioned, the contours and speed of the greens are treacherous in places.

If you've still got enough balls left to take on the par-4 fifth, there's unfortunately yet more water to contend with, as H2O runs down the entire left flank, with cleverly postioned pot bunkers on the right to gobble up those players, like myself, that decide to 'Gareth Bale' down the right.

If I'm honest, the holes around the turn don't really catch the imagination as much as the opening holes on the front side but things start picking up toward the end of the round, with a spectacular four-hole finish from the par-5 15th, with water once again coming into play, short and left of the green.

The par-4 16th is pretty short, but if you decide to pull the driver out and get up close to the green, then you'll need to give it the Sunday best to carry the water hazard some 50 yards short of the green. The par-3 17th is a bit of a brute, too, playing around 200 yards and into one of those all-too-frequent 'elephant' style greens.

And then there's the par-5 18th, the signature hole and without doubt my favourite on the course, with water guarding the green short and left. If you get a good drive away, avoiding the bunkers down the right, you can give yourself a genuine chance of reaching the green. A solid 250-yard drive will leave you some 220 yards into the pin.

But like the rest of the course, the 18th green is no bargain. Particularly where the pin position was located, some five feet over the water. Anything stuck 10-feet behind the pin was left with one of the fastest putts I've seen for some time. It was cruel, but I enjoyed the challenge very much.

After the round, you'll be sipping on a cold one amongst stylish hospitality, gastronomy and stunning views back across the 18th. Happy days, indeed.

Verdict

This is one very classy golf club, that with time to mature, could well turn into one of Europe's greats. The start and finish of the round really keeps you on your guard. You can get away with a few bad drives around the turn, but on the whole, this is a strategical golf course.

Although I've never played 2018 Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, I've seen it on television numerous times and this Dutch layout reminds me very much of it.

While knowhere near as long or demanding as that French brute, The International's par-73 test requires you to plot your way around the course in similar fashion, avoiding water and controlling your ball on the rapid greens. I think there's water on about 12 of the holes, so there's potential for a round-wrecker just about everywhere.

Alongside all the amenities provided in the clubhouse, the practice range is second-to-none too. All in all, a great course and well worth paying a visit should you find yourself in the Netherlands.

For more information visit The International website.

 

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