Bridge traffic an ongoing problem for Queenstown Harbor
EASTON, Md. -- On the list of problems golf courses face - from droughts to drainage, patchy greens to poor pace-of-play - gephyrophobia seems strangely out of place.
But gephyrophobia - the fear of bridges - is something that Queenstown Harbor must battle constantly. The 36-hole layout is located in Queenstown, Md., just east of Annapolis off Route 50. In other words, just across the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, better known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The bridge is the gateway to Maryland's Eastern Shore, but it is also an oft-cursed structure that is the site of some of the worst traffic in the Mid-Atlantic region during the summer. Last year, the bridge underwent repairs that exacerbated those problems.
"We did a survey back in December," said Keli Trubow the Marketing Administrator for Atlantic Golf, which runs Queenstown Harbor. "We asked, 'Why haven't you visited us in the last few months?' A good majority of the responses were 'bridge traffic.' It's an on-going problem."
On weekends, the backups begin around 8 a.m. They sometimes extend beyond Annapolis.
"It causes problems not only with people not wanting to come, but with people being late for tee times," Trubow said.
The completion of the bridge's reparation project is expected later this year, Trubow said. That, however, will only mean fewer delays, not a clear, brake-free trip across the bay. Besides, even without traffic, the Bay Bridge still poses a less-tangible obstacle for Queenstown Harbor and other courses that sit just across the Chesapeake.
For many in the Mid-Atlantic Region - from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore to Frederick to Northern Virginia - the Bay Bridge is the pathway to the beach. Dewey Beach, Rehoboth and Ocean City are why they cross it, so the bridge itself can seem like a boundary beyond which they will not travel unless they are heading to one of those locations.
And that is unfortunate, because Queenstown Harbor and a handful of other courses just across the bridge are worth the trip - no matter the traffic.
Located about 10 miles east of the Bay Bridge, Queenstown is set along the Chester River, a tributary of the Bay. Its two 18-hole courses, the Lakes Course and the River Course, offer an escape for golfers in addition to fabulous, well-maintained tracks.
Both allow players to lose themselves in the surrounding nature. The Lindsay Ervin-designed courses feature beautiful views of the Chesapeake Bay and Chester River and a great deal of wild life.
"I would describe it as more of a nature preserve," said Scot Forbis, the Head Professional at Queenstown. "There's tons of wild life here. You'll be hitting balls on the range and see a deer run through the back. You see bald eagles, blue heron. It's close enough to the city to be a short drive, but when you get here, you feel like you're on a nature preserve."
Queenstown Harbor's River Course opened in 1991 and expanded to 27 holes several years later. In 1996, nine more holes were added to form the Lakes Course.
The more-acclaimed River Course is a par-72 that measures 7,110 yards from the tips. As its name suggests, there is plenty of water on the River Course and extensive wetlands areas to eat up wayward Titleists. For example, No. 16, a 196-yard par-3, plays to a peninsula green.
The course is challenging - look no further than the 478-yard, par-4 10th and the finishing hole, a difficult 585-yard par-5. Queenstown, however, gives golfers four or five tee box options on every hole. Usually the options allow you to bail out on some of the more difficult forced carries.
The Lakes Course, a par-71, measures 6,537 yards and makes Queenstown doubly appealing. So what to do about that traffic this summer? Here are three suggestions.
Make a day of it
According to Trubow, Atlantic Golf again will offer several promotional deals aimed at getting players to the courses for an entire day - so players will miss traffic both coming and going. The deals will involve meals and unlimited golf for a day.
Even without Queenstown's deal, however, a day trip is a fine idea. In addition to Queenstown, there are several other fine courses in the area.
Hog Neck Golf Course in nearby Easton offers has a 7,048-yard, par-72 18-hole course and a nine-hole executive course. A public course at a reasonable price, Hog Neck's championship course has a links-style front nine while the back nine plays through the woods.
The Easton Club has a championship course that is open to the public, a par-72, 6,700-yard layout designed by Robert D. Rauch and Richard Mandell.
And the Upland Golf Club in Denton recently opened to provide another reason to plan a trip to the area. Course architect Joel Weiman took a flat soybean field devoid of vegetation and weaved a links-style course through ponds, streams and waterfalls
Make it a stop on your way
For beach-goers frustrated by traffic, Queenstown and the surrounding courses can offer momentary respite. A trip to Ocean City, especially for golf, can be split up with a stop at Queenstown for a round.
"This year we're going to try to grab a little more of the beach traffic," Trubow said. "It will give some people a break during their trip."
Make it your final destination
In much the same way that Ocean City's dramatic increase in quality golf courses (see related story) gives golfers an alternative destination to Myrtle Beach, the Atlantic Golf Courses and several others just east of the Bay Bridge offer an alternative to Ocean City.
For players that want to get away from the city for an overnight trip or a long weekend, the area around Queenstown is a great option.
"It's more of a day trip, but we do have quite a few big groups come down and stay at the local Comfort Inn," Forbis said. "They come down, play golf, eat crabs at night. The shore has become a lot more of a destination."
With that, here are some ideas for potential trips.
Where to Stay
Comfort Inn, Kent Narrows (410) 826-6767
Queenstown Inn Bed and Breakfast Convenient and relaxing, the Inn is blocks from Queenstown Creek and close to Queenstown Harbor, shopping and restaurants. (888) 744-3407
The Tidewater Inn Located in nearby Easton, "The Colonial Capital of the Eastern Shore," the Tidewater Inn is a warm, charming spot to spend a long weekend getaway. It's inviting, cozy and it has a number of golf packages for the surrounding courses. For information, call (800) 237-8775.
The Bishop's House Bed and Breakfast One of numerous B and B's in the surrounding area. (800) 223-7290.
Comfort Inn, Easton (410) 820-8333
Atlantic Budget Inn, Easton (410) 822-2200
Holiday Inn Express, Easton (410) 319-6500
Where to Eat
Eagle Spirits Restaurant, Easton Located at The Easton Club, it is open to the public for both lunch and dinner. Runs the gamut from sandwiches to fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. (410) 820-4100.
The Hunter's Tavern at the Tidewater Inn, Easton American dinner menu and an outstanding Sunday brunch. Snapper soup, served with a jigger of sherry, is not to be missed. (410) 822-1300.
Washington Street Pub, Easton Pub atmosphere with casual bar-food dining. (410) 822-9011.
Hemingway's Restaurant, Stevensville (410) 643-CRAB
Annie's Paramount Steakhouse (410) 827-7103
March 3, 2003