Aquella Sets A New Standard In Phuket For Luxury Resort-Styled Golf
Story by Natasha Wong & Ken Lye
Photos by Natasha Wong, Aquella Golf & Country Club & Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa
Phuket has long been a favourite destination with holidaymakers and golfers alike, and now with the addition of the luxe Aquella Golf & Country Club, there’s another compelling reason to swing by the sunny isle sooner rather than later.
Located on the mainland in Phang-Nga province’s Thai Muang Beach, the 18-hole course is part of a planned luxury development by the Pacific Century group of Hong Kong and their partners, which includes splendid pool villas, a luxurious resort hotel, a lagoon pier, and a beach club over the property stretching across 2.6 kilometres of beautiful sandy shoreline along the gorgeous Andaman Sea.
Simon Mees, Aquella Golf & Country Club’s General Manager, explains: “Our facility has been redesigned and developed into a beachfront golf course with a fun and challenging layout set amongst a luxurious residential complex. It’s our intention for the facility to set new standards of excellence – not only in Phuket and Phang Nga, but in the region.”
The Aquella layout, which opened for play in August 2021, partially occupies the site of the former Thai Muang Golf Course by Andy Dye. Australian golf course architects, Paciﬁc Golf Coast Design, who also designed the renowned Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, completely transformed the landscape into a pristine par 72 true resort-style golf course catering to all levels of golfers, from high handicappers to seasoned golfers or professionals. Part of Dye’s original design was retained through his signature use of railway sleepers to shore up bunker edges and add definition and character to the course. In spectacular condition, Aquella will certainly set new standards for the area.
Other than the 11th hole located right by the coastline, the rest of the course runs inland through a largely flat coastal hinterland, punctuated by a snaking network of natural waterways and ‘khlongs’. With its proximity to the ocean, the golf course is designed and routed to bring the wind into play.
20-year-old Brandon Han, an elite amateur golfer on the Singapore national squad and the latest addition to the club’s brand ambassador program shared of his round on Aqullella, “The course is playing a little bit difficult because of the wind. The greens are actually pretty tough to putt on. The undulations may seem very subtle from the fairway, but when you get on them they actually break a bit more. Especially on a windy day like today, you might want to just get it on the green, miss it on the right spot and walk away with a par.”
Aquella’s signature hole is the stunning 11th Hole, a par 3 which plays to a beachside green set against the backdrop of the Andaman Sea. Han shared, “I’d say it’s a pretty strong hole because it’s playing about 175m today (from the black tees) into the headwind. It demands a good shot. You don’t want to try anything too adventurous because the green is surrounded by pretty deep bunkers.” The hole plays to a friendlier 141m from the white tees and is a very reachable 90m from the reds.
The course plays to three distinctly varied yardages – the black tees run to a modest 6,316m, the white tees measure 5,879m and the red tees are a comfortable 4,891m. On paper, the course yardage measures up to other more undulating and dramatic courses in Phuket like the Canyon Course at Blue Canyon or Red Mountain. Aquella does however play shorter given that there are significantly less elevation changes over its gently rolling and relatively generous fairways. Before you think it’s going to be a walk in the park, be warned, there is water in play on 15 out of the 18 holes, with strategically placed sleeper-faced bunkers strategically located throughout the course. This scenic par-72 course is as challenging as it is charming, especially when the coastal winds pick up.
We also like the challenging long 12th (par 4) and 17th holes (par 5), both with water running along the entirety of their right sides. The 8th Hole par 3, another favourite with golfers, requires a good stiff hit across a large scenic pond while also avoiding bunkers that flank the front right and back left of the green. The black tees measure about 180m, while the white and red tees play off 149m and 92m respectively. Another favourite is the 16th Hole par 4, which is rated a tough index 3. The hole isn’t short by any means, playing 399m and 389m off the black and white tees respectively, with a placid but imposing water hazard running right down the left side and back of the hole. The red tees provide an easier test at just 250m in length.
With the water hazards cutting right through several of the holes, like the 3rd, 5th and 6th holes, the expansive course isn’t all bomb and gouge, it’s also designed to reward golfers with strategy in mind. Off the right tee boxes, golfers will be able to appreciate the variety of club selections and shots needed throughout a round of golf here. Helping the golfer to navigate the course and enhancing the golfing experience are GPS-enabled golf carts with visual map layouts, alongside well-trained caddies. The greens at Aquella play fairly fast and tricky with their subtle undulations and the grain of the grass noticeably coming into play.
The Golf club is well appointed and includes a covered driving range with automatic ball dispensers and an 18-hole miniature putting course perfect for families, and possibly even for golfers to settle match bets outstanding after a round of golf.
Inside the elegantly modern clubhouse, golfers will discover an impressively stocked pro-shop with plenty of Aquella branded merchandise, a first-class spa and state-of-the-art gym. For the peckish, the Approach bar and restaurant bar with its expansive view of the golf course showcases a delectable menu of Thai and International dishes. The Aquella Juicy Burger is well regarded, though our favourite is the ‘kra-pow-moo’ – stir-fried minced pork with basil served with jasmine rice.
Though new to the party, Aquella has very quickly drawn the attention of golfers both locally and overseas. The venue played host to the Thailand Mixed Pro event organised by Trust Golf in Dec 2021. It was also officially added as an Asian Tour Destination in June 2022. Aquella is also gaining traction in the local amateur golf scene with the “Aquella Social Stableford Series”, a monthly amateur competition held from May through to September of this year.
To get to Aquella, take a 40-minute drive north from the Phuket International Airport, past the Sarasin Bridge, on the mainland in Phang Nga. Although it’s a fair distance from Phuket town, there is a whole host of accommodation options within the vicinity. For example, the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa, part of the Marriott Bonvoy group, located at Mai Khao Beach, is only a 30-minute drive away, depending on traffic. The 5-star hotel impresses with its ultra-comfortable beds, luxurious amenities and quite possibly, the best breakfast in Phuket. It has a wide range of accommodation options, including deluxe rooms and exquisite pool villas.
Cross-border travel is fast picking up again, and while golfing tourists are more than eager to venture out again to golfing hotspots globally, the one thing on every discerning golfer’s mind is the course condition of golf courses, which understandably have held up to varying degrees since the pandemic. It is here that Aquella sets itself apart with the immaculate conditioning of its Paspalum Platinum turfed course. We golfed at Aquella towards the end of June, during the wet season which runs from June to October, and we noted how well the sand-based fairways held up even with the rain. Simon Mees, General Manager of Aquella shared, “Aquella is about understated quality. We are very focused on the level of service. We want (to exceed) people’s expectations from a conditions and playability perspective.”
Tee Boxes Yardage Rating Slope
Black Tees 6,316m 72.8 128
White Tees 5,879m 71.2 124
Red Tees 4,892m 70.8 119
Aquella Golf & Country Club
157/12 Moo 9, Limdul Road, Thai Mueang District, Phang-nga 82120, Thailand
Reservation: +66 (0) 76 679 308
Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa
555 Moo 3, Mai Khao, Talang, Phuket 83110, Thailand
Reservation: +66 76 363 999
Visit www.renaissancephuket.com to check the room rates and promotions.