Tag Archives: Queenstown Harbor

Cramming for May events

CrammingNormally the golf season starts in late February in the DMV and I attempt to peak my game for the important events on the May calendar.  May 5 is the four-man scramble for the Jess Carson Charity Foundation at Queenstown Harbor, and May 30-June 4 is our annual Myrtle Beach 216-hole slug-fest.  This year we have a dynamite course line-up and I am pumped to travel, but the physical demands of this trip can be daunting if your fitness level is poor or you are struggling with your game.   Sometimes you can’t control game struggles, but this year I broke protocol by doing a poor job maintaining my fitness over the winter, and am playing catch up.  Also, rather than dedicating two days per weekend in the spring for practice and play, I was limited to one mostly because of bad weather.

As I noted earlier, I’ve been battling a long running case of the chip yips and last weekend appeared to have it whipped.  I managed to chip in again for the second time in four rounds and took great encouragement from the course despite my continued ball striking issues.  Fast forward to yesterday and I hit 14 greens in regulation (did not see that coming), but the chip yips were back – ugh!  I left the course a bit dejected after blowing a chance to go low by playing holes 15-18 bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey.  What drives you nuts in this game is that you cannot solve for one thing without something else going wrong.  But my dejection quickly faded because I realized my ball striking was coming around and I finished poorly because my poor conditioning caused some loose swings late.

It’s hard to recognize that when you lay the sod over a short pitch, you are actually improving.  Improvement is not linear and you are going to have setbacks and can only hope to see overall improvement that trends up slowly.  So the push is on and I’ll continue to work on flexibility, dropping some more weight, and tailoring practice to the May 5th tournament.  The scramble is all about driving, putting, and short iron play.  I’ll practice on Saturday featuring wedges, drivers, and putting, and then play on Sunday.  Hopefully it all comes together on the 5th.  After the scramble, it will be back to the short game focus and working hard on conditioning.

When you’re a desk jockey, it’s difficult to see the forest from the trees; you want to do your best every time out, but when you only get one day per week, it sure seems hard.  How is your early season coming?

Queenstown Harbor (River) – Course Review

Summary

Queenstown Harbor Clubhouse

On Friday, November 2nd, I made my way down to Queenstown Harbor to play the River course just a few days removed from Hurricane Sandy.  Queenstown is a 36-hole facility with The River being the more upscale play, and The Lakes, also a nice course, but not presenting as scenic an experience or as challenging.  The River has a lot of water and combines tree-lined protected holes with some open and exposed holes that are subjected to the winds off the nearby Chester River and Chesapeake Bay.  On this day, the hurricane was just exiting the area and the wind was sustained at 15-20 mph with higher gusts, and the temperature was in the high 40s.  Playing conditions were  super difficult from the blue tees at 6,568 yards.  I was amazed at the exquisite course conditioning considering nearly a foot of rain had fallen only days before.  The course drained extremely well and the bunkers were in immaculate shape (all groomed and not a sign of any pooling.)  Fairways, tees and greens were smooth and filled in nicely.  We were playing cart path only but the course was dry for all practical purposes.  A tip of the cap goes to the greens crew for the amazing job.

#16 green, The River Course at Queenstown Harbor

Playing tips:

  • All par-fives are three shot holes and placement is the key off the tee.  Don’t hesitate to take a three wood and keep it in play.
  • Most of the par-fours are medium length and play under 400 yards, however there are several sharp doglegs that tempt you to play over water to get a shorter look.  Don’t succumb to the temptation as the risk is not worth the reward.  The iron play in from the safe areas on #4 and #12 are easy enough to play to without risking a rinse.
  • #18 is a par-five and when the pin is cut front and left, be careful of the hidden water hazard that creeps up close to the green.  You can’t see it from the fairway.

Value (3.0 out of 5.0)

I played on the off-season rate of $75.  In season is in the $90-$100 range which is not inexpensive for this play, even though the price includes your cart and unlimited range balls.  The Lakes can be played for $49 off-season and the greens fee is commensurate with the relative caliber of the layout.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

Queenstown has a modest size clubhouse that houses a well stocked and attractive pro shop, along with a good sized snack bar.  Behind the building is a pavilion used for outings which is a nice setting and can host upwards of 200 people.  Earlier this year I played a very well attended charity event here that was organized nicely.

The range at Queenstown

There is a 25 station driving range that is outfitted with mats that are designed to hold a wooden tee.  Unfortunately they don’t do the job and just teeing a ball up to hit driver was an issue, which was about the only source of frustration I had during the day.  There is a very large beautiful practice putting green adjacent to the first green and a smaller one by the driving range.  Next to the primary green is a medium sized pitching green that includes a bunker and a closely mown area, and presents a variety of lies to practice from.  Overall, the practice facilities are spacious and ample enough to support two courses.

Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)

The staff at Queenstown from the professional manning the shop, to the snack bar attendant to the starter/bag drop guy were all very friendly and accommodating.  Reserving a tee time was easily done through their website which is intuitive and easy to use.  On this date, they had any time I wanted and the starter gave me the option to play as a single or pair up with a choice of twosomes.  Playing Queenstown in the offseason or in season during the charity outing was a delight.  Visitors to Maryland’s eastern shore should not miss this one.

Overall Rating (3.75 out of 5.0)

View of the first hole from the practice putting green.

2012 Fall Golf Trip Update

Just returned from a 3-day golf trip to the Delmarva that almost didn’t happen because of Hurricane Sandy.  The aftermath of the storm left the Delaware and Maryland coastal areas with windy and cold conditions that were less than optimal for golf.  I pushed through three blustery rounds that left me battered, exhausted, and glad to be home.  Full course reviews for Queenstown Harbor (River) and Heritage Shores are coming.

Freezing my butt off at Queenstown Harbor.

If you’ve ever played golf in heavy wind, you know there’s a premium on good ball striking.  Without it, you have no chance.  Oddly enough, I was getting it off the tee but couldn’t hit an approach shot to save my arse.  Only 15 GIRs over three rounds left me with handicap busting rounds of 85-90-84 and some serious second guessing about my motivation to take this on.  It had  been seven weeks since I last touched a club and the game rust exacerbated the difficult conditions.

Several truths came out as well.

Truth 1:  You MUST strike the ball solidly in the wind.

Truth 2:  If something is not working, change it.  We are creatures of habit and when you are on the bogey train or worse, and missing shots consistently, it’s probably a mechanical flaw.  I know it goes against conventional wisdom to try and fix your swing on the course but missing shots the same way every time (e.g. big push slice) can be addressed with little tweaks until you find a wood band-aid.  I found my fix on the range yesterday morning and finally put some good swings together after 50 holes.  Admittedly, it was a little late, but I enjoyed my last four holes and actually birdied #9 at Heritage Shores to end the trip.  While I will be “coming back”, I left the course with my game feeling like that crane in New York.

My golf game yesterday.
Picture from the New York Daily News

Truth 3:  No feel on the putting green?  It’s because your brain is flying on auto pilot and heading towards that big mountain.  You need to radically alter your setup and/or stroke to get your head in the game.  In round one, I was 10-over after nine holes and had taken 20 putts.  I abandoned my square stance, quiet hands, and shoulder propelled stroke, and went with a wide open stance with my heels together and implemented a very wristy stroke with a little “pop” at the bottom, and BINGO!  All feel returned and I rallied for a 3-over 39 on the inward half and took only 14 putts.  I have done this before, especially when playing in very hot weather where your concentration tends to wonder.  Something as simple as removing your hat, or putting with your glove on/off works.  Anything to break your routine can shake you into a course correction.

Truth 4:  Roll is easier to judge than flight.  I’ve been struggling with my green-side pitching.  Yesterday, in the wind, after another bladed wedge, I switched to low running bump and run game for all shots without forced carries and regained a measure of control and confidence.  Actually chipped in with an 8-iron where I normally would have tried to pinch a sand wedge.  The pros hit this shot with great effectiveness, but unless you have a ton of practice time, take the easier route and stay low.

Looking forward to expanding on these truths and playing some good weather golf this fall.  Any tips you’d like to convey for playing in the wind, please send them along!

Feeling pressure to tinker with my swing

Suffering a short-term hangover from playing in the Jess Carson Foundation charity tournament at Queenstown Harbor last week.  While the team did well and shot 11-under, which was good for 2nd place, I’m starting to feel the urge to do swing analysis, probably brought on by the scramble style format.  To get ready for one of these tournaments, you are afforded the luxury of not having to work on your full game and focus only on driving and putting.  Leading up to the tournament, I mentally prepared myself to optimize distance by making the most powerful and technically correct move possible.  I struck the ball well in the tournament but missed a few shots and felt the sudden urge to work on my swing.

With a certain major milestone only one month out, I think it best to resist.  Yes, Myrtle Beach is 30 days away and every year faced with the proposition of playing 180 holes in six days, I haul down a minivan full of swing thoughts that inevitably twist me into a swing pretzel.  While my short game usually sharpens from the reps, the carnage of bad shots I leave is not pretty.  Why the constant need to over-prepare for this venture?

To date, I’ve let the off season conditioning plan drive my swing performance and have yet to film swing or hit balls all spring, except to warm-up before a round.  With a clear head and a relaxed demeanor on the course, I’ve made more good swings than I have in years so why am I feeling the urge to tinker?

Between now and Myrtle, I’m thinking I’ll try what Bob Rotella advocates:  Commit to only two things on the golf course -try your hardest on every shot and have fun.  Think it will last?