By Matt Hombach
After speeding across the Bay Bridge and heading east on Route 50, most Baltimoreans only have one thing on their mind in the summertime -- the beach.
Unless someone has a hankering for outlet shopping, the car needs gas or the kids need a bathroom break, the exits on Route 50 for Queenstown pretty much pass as a blur. But area golfers in the know are fully aware that one of the mid-Atlantic's best golfing destinations sits just north of the Blue Star Memorial Highway (aka Route 50) in Queenstown.
Tucked away on the eastern shore of the Chester River just as it makes a final meander into the Chesapeake Bay, Queenstown Harbor offers two 18-hole tracks (The River Course and The Lakes Course), an upscale, but comfortable clubhouse and first-class service all around.
One of the best things about Queenstown is the diversity of holes. There are no cookie-cutter holes or repeats. Each one offers a different look and tests a different skill set.
The Lindsay Ervin-designed courses put a premium on accuracy off the tee. There are hazards guarding one side of almost every fairway. Queenstown's main defenses in this area are water (ponds, lakes, streams, marshes), out-of-bounds markers, windswept sand traps, environmentally protected areas and woods.
While hazards and bunkers provide plenty of obstacles to navigate, the wind provides the biggest challenge. Prevailing west winds pick up speed across the bay and slam full force into Queenstown's 735 waterfront acres. Wind comes more into play on The River course than the inland Lakes, which offers more of a parkland setting, but breezes affect club selection and strategy on almost every hole.
Several of the holes on The River course were moved closer to the water this winter, offering better views and stronger winds. The par-3 hole No. 2 has been rebuilt nearer the waterfront to make way for future construction of a resort on the property. The par-5 hole No. 5 has also been moved toward the water, creating a new look for one of the course's signature holes.
The course certainly isn't easy, but it is playable for all skill levels, provided you choose the correct set of tees. Golf Digest named Queenstown one of the top 50 courses for women in the United States.
Queenstown recently began offering stay and play packages. The stately River House, located just off No. 2 fairway at The River Course, sleeps up to 10 and offers a great location for a golf getaway or business retreat.
IF YOU PLAN TO PLAY
Queenstown Harbor Golf
301 Links Lane, Queenstown Md. 21658
River Course: Weekdays -- $89; Weekend -- $119
Lakes Course: Weekdays -- $62; Weekend -- $72
315-Yard Drive -- In High Heels
The High Heels for Hope long-drive competition at Pine Ridge Golf Course provided a unique challenge to local golfers who were up to teeing off while wearing some unique shoes. Male and female golfers from throughout the area tested their driving skills while wearing high heels. They paid a fee for each shot, with all proceeds going to the House of Ruth. Joe Rivera won the men's division with a drive of 315 yards and March Klein won the women's division with a shot of 214 yards.
Issue 164: August 2011