Hunters Oak Golf Club in Queenstown, Maryland features 27 holes of golf, including a newer nine-hole Parkland course and the championship 18-hole "Old Course.'' The Old Course was designed by Ian Scott-Taylor and opened in 1999, and features a true Scottish-style links design. While technically considered a private club, the golf course keeps its doors open to the general public.
The par-72 Old Course plays to 7,072 yards from the longest tees, with a USGA rating of 74.1 and a slope rating of 135. The course is situated on the sprawling River Plantation in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland's Eastern Shore, about an hour's drive from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
The course features a myriad of links-style features, such as winding mounds, swales, bunkers, tight landing areas, blind shots, knee-high rough, water hazards, double fairways, and greens guarded by moats of grass. It's been recommended that, if golfers don't like such rugged terrain, they should "find a course with flower beds, fountains and waterfalls.''
In fact, the Old Course is considered so tough and so demanding by mid-range and high-handicap players, that they've been known to label it as "unfair'' and "overly challenging.'' According to the local golf professional, one foursome claimed to have lost 96 balls in the water and grasslands the first year the course opened. Since then, as an aid to golfers, the course has placed aiming stakes in many of the fairways to try to lead golfers from shot to shot.
A good example of some of the holes that can confound and befuddle golfers is the par-4 No. 5. This hole plays to 461 yards from the back tees and has been aptly named the "Jester.'' From the tee, golfers have a choice of playing to either side of a fairway divided by a snaking creek that leads to a larger water hazard near the left side of the green. The left fairway is the obvious play, being much wider, except for the deep bunker located right at its center. For golfers who encounter trouble, they'll have to play to another landing area that features another bunker at its center.
Since opening, the course has received numerous accolades over the years. The Baltimore Sun stated, "Golf facilities have been built in the U.S. to resemble what Scotland, Ireland, and England offer, but nothing carrying the authenticity of what Scott-Taylor is doing. It will stand alone in the character it offers... and will offer something different - a vicarious trip to Scotland, Ireland, or England.''
In addition, Golf Digest ranked Hunters Oak among the Top 15 golf courses in the state, and Golf World hailed course designer Scott-Taylor as one of the Top 25 architects in the U.S. due to his work on Hunters Oak. The course also plays host to the LPGA Futures Tour, where players have averaged a score of 13-under par during tournaments.
Practice facilities include a short-game practice area, and lessons are also available.
Before or after the golf, the club's Dornoch House is an authentic Scottish Pub & Grille for dining and relaxing, while the stately Heathland Manor clubhouse features dining rooms and meeting areas.
In addition, The River Plantation offers a look back in time, including two distinctive Bed & Breakfast locations. Other activities include sporting clays, hunting, fishing, and boating. There's also a fitness center with men's and women's locker rooms, a pool and tennis facilities.