Six years ago my desire to play golf returned after nearly 20 years, all thanks to a chance to play three holes with Sir Nick Faldo in Phuket. Has my golf improved in the last six years? A little although I’m not about to give up my day job any time soon.
On Wednesday, Jan 12, a picture perfect day with blue skies and a light breeze, I was afforded the opportunity to head north and play at Aquella Golf & Country Club, a new course in the Phuket area, in the Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga.
After a pleasant drive which took no more than one hour from Heroine’s Monument in moderate traffic, I’m entering Aquella. Golf bag dropped, I walk to the reception area. Smiling eyes behind face masks greet me and ask me to sign in and collect my Aquella Passport, which will be used for all purchases at the course, thus ensuring a cashless day.
After a quick change in the locker rooms, with each locker having its own keypad, I head to the driving range. Consisting of 20 covered bays, with the latest in automated ball dispensers, I warm up but soon give up as I know I’ll be swinging enough on the course itself.
The course is walk-able but as the green fees are currently including the carts, I take the cart, when I am joined by my caddie Yaya and my playing partners for the day, Simon Mees, General Manager of Aquella Golf & Country Club, and his girlfriend Alice.
We are advised on the yardage and green speed and opt for white tees, as I’m told some of the black tees are so far back they are in a different postcode.
When we get to hole 16 I know I’ve made the right choice. Hole 16, index 3, par 4, is only 317 yards from the whites but a daunting 483 from the blacks. With water down the left-hand side, I was happy to walk away with a double bogey.
The carts are unlike any I’ve experienced before as they have GPS! In certain areas of the course, such as over the bridges, the speed is controlled. They are also limited as to where they can go. Normally there are signs on the fairways but not so at Aquella. A red box appears on the screen in the cart with a beeping sound and if you ignore the warning and drive too close to the green then the cart stops.
How’s the course? Simply put, looks can be deceiving. The fairways are in fantastic condition, with lots of run – the drives I hit straight ran and ran and I hit more straight than not. The gently rolling fairways, with Paspalum Platinum Grass, are narrow in places which is fine for now but once the trees grow in a little more, some of the wayward tee shots I had will not make for easy 2nd shots.
In the interest of research, I zigzagged up most fairways, even revisited a couple of fairways a second time. I found the rough to be quite playable, mainly due to the fact it had been cut after the Thailand Mixed “Last Chapter of 2021” competition held in late December.
Hole 11 is the signature hole, a par 3, whites 166, black 185. Opt to go short and you’re likely in one of the many bunkers. Go long and you’re likely to be off the back of the green, facing a changeling 2-metre chip up back onto the green – I did both and it was my worst hole of the day!
Simon sums it up perfectly: “It is our mission to provide a golf course of the highest standards from a playability standpoint, with our maintenance team working hard on the course’s continued development so that our members and guests can enjoy the finest playing conditions through-out the year.”
Technology, cashless, GPS carts, all perfectly blended together with the natural environment equals a truly stunning day out. Time to book another tee time.
For more information please contact:
Aquella Golf & Country Club
Thai Mueang District, Phang Nga
076 679 308