Capon Springs & Farms Resort | Golf's Golden Age Meets Country Roads
At some point on your way to play a new course, the anticipation of seeing the course itself often makes the drive - no matter how long - seem shorter. Your adrenal glands start to pump more and more of that intoxicating juice as you creep ever closer to the smell of fresh cut grass seeping in through the window, that of course you expertly cracked open as the GPS begins to tell you the mileage to the course in fractions.
You might even turn the volume down if you've been pumping up the jams so that all your senses can tune in to what's just around the bend.
Getting to Capon Springs & Farms isn't easy, but it's not as hard as you might think either. That said, if you play into the cliché of playing New York State of Mind while cruising next to a train on the Hudson River Line - or more appropriately, Country Roads while driving through West Virginia - then this place is for you!
Only when you turn off WV Highway 259 onto Capon Springs Road, the last thing you're eventually going to see - or at least you think you'll see - is a golf course.
Trust us... the payoff is worth the wait.
Upon pulling past the resort entrance - marked by a stone column on one side and a small dam/waterfall/bridge combo on the other - you are almost immediately greeted by the main building at the resort. The three-level main house contains your 'front desk', but also a dining hall and guest quarters on the upper floors.
A dining hall you say? That's right! The entire resort dines together at a single sitting for each of your three hots (see photo immediately below). That sounds pretty old-fashioned doesn't it! Don't worry, your cots are private!
Immediately past the main house, Capon Springs opens up to a large courtyard - flush with stages, gazebos, beach volleyball and other welcoming gathering spaces - surrounded by the two-lane road you arrived on with handfuls of white-washed guest houses of varying styles and sizes. My mind immediately called up scenes from Dirty Dancing and the famed Catskills escapes of the 50s and 60s (yes, we're old enough to have seen the movie as youngsters but not old enough to have lived through a similar experience!).
We arrived right at noon. Upon parking the car, we opened the doors to the sounds of music playing throughout the entire property. Speakers were cleverly hidden in lamp posts and affixed to trees. Can't picture it? This video will help...
What a setting!?! The foliage in the courtyard was nothing short of peak. In a rare twist of fate, we arrived at Capon Springs without researching exactly what to do and where to go. Since my brother (Doughboy) and I (Dooner) had played an early 18 at Cacapon State Park about an hour up the road, we thankfully had to swing right by our mother's place (who we were in town visiting) on our way to Capon. She packed a cooler with some subs for her boys, so we quasi-tailgated with the music playing and enjoyed every second of the journey back in time!
If you heard the commentary on the video, you can tell that Ma agrees with the Catskills and Dirty Dancing takes! Enjoy a few more shots of the lower portion of Capon Springs & Farms.
After we pounded a couple of subs, made our way back to the main house to find out what where we needed to pay for golf (it was there if you go), we made our way up the hill to the golf course(s). More on the plural noun in a moment.
Since it's so far from just about everything, you can imagine that unless the resort guests are playing, the course isn't used all that much. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and it was GLORIOUS! Perfect weather aside, it was just a privilege to have been able to experience this golf course. Some may scoff at it being only nine holes, but you shouldn't.
We wouldn't steer you wrong!
On Instagram, the Sugarloaf Social Club guys call the place 'The Last of The Hidden Gems'. On their map of hidden gems, they actually refer to it as "THIS IS THE ONE - GO".
We're here to confirm. And you need not go past the opening hole to understand why.
Upon summitting the hill on the road from the resort's main house to the cart barn, head on inside the upper level and you'll find what you could only describe as a sandlot locker room. Grab a pull-cart if you want, or a rental set if you left your clubs at home. They're on the house.
In fact, you play all day for $35 as a resort guest.
After you lace'em up, you can roll a few putts on the practice green below the first tee. Just below that, it's the first tee to the 'other course' at Capon Springs, the 'Prep Course'. The Prep Course is a nine hole par-3 course that allows you to 'practice shots you'll hit on the traditional course. The Prep is walking-only, but carts are permitted on the regulation nine.
We chose the main entrée to kick things off. If you recall a couple paragraphs ago, we said you need not go past the opening hole to understand the magic of this place. The hole, named 'Hilltop', plays up the hill from tee to green, the latter of which sits on the highest point on the property.
That's all soaked in as you ascend the hilltop, yet the opening tee is where the spell is cast.
We mentioned the cart barn (lower level) doubled as a locker room (upper level). Did we not mention the third floor feature? Well, it has an observation deck on the roof overlooking the first tee and ninth green, presumably for guests to enjoy a cocktail or coffee while giving the players of the day a cheer or jeer based on their level of success. I mean, how great is this...
While we had the course to ourselves this day, one can't help but notice everything at Capon Springs is designed to encourage community. We can imagine that the families that come here every year have friends who are only friends while they're here! It's a lot like the campgrounds at a NASCAR race. Everyone here is your friend. They all look out for one another.
Finishing the first hole atop the hill provides a vantage point of at least half the big course and all of the little course.
Do yourself another favor - have a match. Don't count strokes - play a match against your buddy or group. Since it's only nine holes, you can easily switch it up every couple of hours and play everyone in your party by day's end. It's not a long course (par 34 over 2913 yards), but don't assume its a pushover. The strategy and restraint (or lack of it) you show is what makes this place oh so much fun to play. You can bomb it in places, but you have to be perfect. You can play safe for par, but birdies are definitely available in the right spots.
Enjoy some of the best looks at the Capon Springs course!
Last note here from us, is that this might be one of the first courses we've encountered where the White Tees (second furthest option) actually play from behind the Blue Tees (tips) on at least one occasion! At nearly fifty yards between blue and white tees on the final hole, that's a game changer given what lies in front of you!
We've often wondered why more nine-hole courses don't do this in order to add variety for multi-round players. This hole does it very well! Also, with four tee boxes to choose from, it again adds a some great options for same day match play! Imagine a Red Tee round late in the day with only 271 to the green. If a match makes it to nine, I wouldn't want the honor on the tee!
As for the Prep Course, it's a great secondary option to throw into your day or, if you're with the family, a low-pressure option for everyone to get out and enjoy a game. We love short courses, so it's no surprise we enjoyed it, but you won't hate it if you make it here. Also, don't be surprised if just your group and few deer grazing in between holes out there!
Some of the best shots from the Prep Course!
In short, Capon Springs exceeds expectations by much further than the country mile you drive to get to it! The amount of quirk is plentiful, but not unfair. You have to deal with hazards - plain and simple - but if you negotiate them safely, you'll likely feel the same way we do about this Country Roads Resort from yesteryear!
Check out more from this ALL-INCLUSIVE resort at https://www.caponsprings.net/. Tell them The Golf Crusade sent you!