Queenstown Harbor Golf Club sits on the far shore of Chesapeake Bay, across from the Western shore near Annapolis. The club features two courses: the Lakes, and the River. The latter of which is generally considered to be the better of the two options at Queenstown, and takes its name from the Chester River, which is in fact a rather wide outlet from the Bay. The result is that holes near the outside of the property offer extensive views across the water.
Players will become acquainted soon within the round, as the par three No. 2 plays along the shore, and soon the par five No. 5 will head back toward the water. Players will eventually get back to the shore during Nos. 14 and 15. Although much of the round is spent wandering through the forests at the edge of the river, there will be plenty of opportunity to experience water, albeit in a less scenic sense. Lindsay Ervin worked the route around natural ponds and wetlands, requiring accurate shotmaking for those who don’t aspire to buy more balls at the pro shop. Although the course extends to 7,100 yards, few of those yards are required in forced carries from the tee.
For almost four years of my life, Queenstown Harbor’s 36 holes were the closest daily-fee facility to my residence in remote Chestertown, Maryland, a good 35 minutes away. Sadly (and predictably), those weren’t particularly good golfing years. Of the two courses at Queenstown Harbor, I played the Lakes far more often, not necessarily out of preference over the River but rather out of frugality – as a fresh college graduate in my early twenties living on my own, the cheaper option was often the better.
The routings of the two courses here are... interesting. Walking is not recommended despite the flatness of the property, because there are quite a few situations where after exiting a green you drive past another random hole to get to your next tee. Because the two layouts have a lot of very similar holes, they kind of blend together in places, particularly in the wooded central portion of the property. There are a few good holes on each course, but also quite a few bland holes and in some cases outright bad ones. (If you like forced layup holes, Queenstown Harbor is for you!) Frankly, the main difference between the two courses is the fact that River sits closer to the Chester River waterfront and away from Highway 301 and the property’s lone subdivision, making it a bit more pleasant an experience.
Notable holes include: #4, a wacky risk/reward par four featuring a fairway split by a pond; #5, a long par five with a quirky layup area and a spectacular view of the river; #11, a par five with a small drainage ditch crossing in front of the green which forces a difficult decision; and #15, a long and mean par four which plays to a mounded green overlooking the river.
Golf isn’t really a thing in this part of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, what with a total of only nine currently operating golf facilities – public or private – in Queen Anne’s County and four immediate neighbor counties (Kent, Talbot, Caroline, and Dorchester) on this side of the Chesapeake Bay. That area equates to nearly 1,800 square miles serving a population of about 175,000 – yet several courses have closed in the past dozen years with none replacing them. Considering the ideal nature of a much of the terrain in these areas (sandy, gently rolling), it’s a shame there aren’t any top quality layouts in the area. The Links at Perry Cabin is probably the closest thing, but given the massive distance between facilities, Queenstown Harbor is better than anything nearby almost by default. If you don’t like it, as the locals would tell you, rent a boat and get out on the “wooder”.