WHEN discussion of the world’s ‘great’ cities starts up, ‘Amsterdam’ will inevitably be thrust into the conversation by anyone who has ever had the privilege of visiting it.
The capital of the Netherlands and the nation’s most populous city remains a thriving metropolis brimming with cultural arts, centuries-old European buildings and architecture, iconic arenas and fascinating sites of immense historical significance.
While for many, the mention of Amsterdam evokes the seedy imagery of its controversial Red Light District and purple-hazed coffee shops, the reality of this vibrant, freedom-loving city is quite contrasting from that perception. It exudes fun, individualism, creativity and relaxation.
It also sits closely to a truly impressive New World golf experience that ticks every box from the tee to the terrace to top-notch post-round tipples. And that, unsurprisingly, is what we’re most interested in.
REGARDED as one of the most exciting cities in the world, every cultural whim is catered for you in Amsterdam. If you’re looking to relax at a local café or experience local street vendors or vending machines, be sure to indulge in some of the most ‘lekker’ krokets – deep fried rolls covered in breadcrumbs filled with ragout – you’ll find anywhere, or some Poffertjes (basically Dutch pancakes) for the sweet-toothed traveller.
Culturally speaking, it’s hard to argue Amsterdam is anything but a hub for artists. Students of 19th Century post-impressionism will likely hightail their way to the Van Gogh Museum, a tribute to Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh and home to the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings anywhere in the world.
Of course, walking around an art museum can be rather thirsty work for the average traveller, and that’s where The Heineken Experience comes into play.
Located at the beer brewing giant’s original brewery in Amsterdam’s city centre, the brewery was closed for production in 1988 and was subsequently turned into a tourist attraction for lovers of the local lager.
Today visitors can take a 2-hour self-guided tour through the facility to learn about Heineken’s heritage and brewing process, its changing direction over the years, as well as end with a sampling of some of its famous wares. Probably best to leave the keys at home.
ONE of the more sobering sites for tourists to Amsterdam is The Anne Frank House, a throwback to the horrors of the Second World War and the Jewish persecution through much of Europe, including in the Netherlands following the German invasion in 1940.
You can visit the ‘Secret Annex’ behind the bookcase where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years during the war.
More than a million visitors visit the site each year, with the house alongside the Prisengracht – one of four main canals through Amsterdam – considered by many the most significant building in Amsterdam, if not the Netherlands.
This age-old city also plays home to one of the world’s most successful association football teams in the world – AFC Ajax – and its famous stadium, Amsterdam Arena, renamed Johan Cruyff Arena in honour of the legendary Dutch footballer who died in 2016.
It remains the largest sporting stadium in the Netherlands and has also hosted concerts for some of the biggest stars in the music world, including David Bowie, AC/DC and The Rolling Stones.
On the outskirts of the city lies some truly beautiful countryside, and with Amsterdam’s flat landscape and bicycle riding culture, it’s all readily accessible for the active traveller.
THE GOLF – COURSE
FOR us, it’s tuning of another kind that brings us to Amsterdam, or rather, to the outskirts of the old Dutch metropolis, and that is tuning our games at an uber-contemporary course called The International.
Situated in Badhoevedorp, a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam’s city centre, this new-age members’ course could well become the new prototype for golf venues into the future. From its clubhouse’s architectural design, to its course’s appealing aesthetic and pure playability, The International is finding its way onto many a bucket list across the globe.
Hosting the KLM Open for the first time in September (won by Sergio Garcia, for the record), The International is an Ian Woosnam-designed masterpiece laid out over vastly undulating landscape – with as much as 14 metres divergence in elevation – which flows in and around several large water features throughout 18 immaculately landscaped championship holes.
GOLF COURSE – CUISINE
YET while the course alone is worth writing home about, it’s everything else at The International for which it deserves most of its accolades. From its partially covered practice range, golf school, sauna and fitness club, to its modern clubhouse and first-class restaurant, it’s clear at the outset service here is at a premium.
The restaurant on site, headed by chef Martijn Heeg, is undoubtedly the crown in the jewel of The International.
A huge variety of decadent dishes and an array of sumptuous finger food options allow patrons to choose from a refined lunch or a fine-dining multi-course dinner with wines to match.
It’s the perfect end to a memorable round at The International. Ø