Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery

Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery.

On a cool spring day in March, I met up with Jonathan Bellingham and Sam Busey at the entrance of Capon Springs. It’s a beautiful setting, deep in the hollows of West Virginia with the trees and flowers just starting to bud and bloom. Sam pulls up in his pickup truck, pulling a custom-made water tank, which he will later fill up with Capon Springs water. While we make our introductions, several other vehicles stop by to fill up their own water jugs and containers to take home. Sam has engineered a hose “splitter” device to permit multiple users to collect water simultaneously. His own tank will take approximately three hours to fill. Keep that in mind—we’ll get back to the strategic convenience of that soon.

Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery.

Capon water is special, not only in how it tastes, but also its healing properties; the stuff is famous and sought after by people living miles around. It’s used in all aspects of the Capon resort, including their swimming pool, water fountains, dining room, and spa. Jonathan oversees several different jobs at Capon; today he will be wearing his marketing and promotions hat. His grandparents created this wonderful vacation spot over 90 years ago, and his family has run it ever since. 

Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery.

Our second companion, Sam, is one of the owners of Lost Barrel Brewing in the town of Middleburg (Loudoun County), about an hour away. It is built on a 70-acre working farm, which includes an equestrian center, as well as additional 80 acres of surrounding forest to complete the beautiful rural setting.  He’ll use the water he picks up to brew special limited production Capon Springs Lagers, Ale’s and Hard Seltzers. One of the first beverages he and Jonathan partnered with was the creation of a Capon Springs Golden Lager, in celebration of Capon’s 90th anniversary. Jonathan’s grandfather actually entertained a similar idea at the end of Prohibition but never took it beyond paper. These two men’s friendship started over 30 years ago. In fact, Sam learned to play golf on the par 3 course at Capon when he was just a kid. His first visit to Capon was when he was only six months old. His family would come here each summer to get away from the city life and spend time together with family and friends.

Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery.

Growing up with a father in the Air Force, Jonathan has lived many places—like Sam’s, Jonathan’s family would also visit Capon Springs each summer. Although Jonathan never picked up a passion for traditional golf, as Sam did, he loved to run and ended up on his high school and college cross country teams. A number of years ago, I introduced Jonathan to the new and innovative sport of “Fling Golf.- a lacrosse/golf hybrid way to play on traditional golf courses, using the same tees, holes and standard of play. The major difference – you only use one stick for all shots. I thought it sounded like something that might fit their family focused resort and golf course. Jonathan embraced the idea and took it upon himself to learn the game. Turns out, he isn’t just good at running; he’s a natural at “flinging” a golf ball. In 2023 he was ranked number one in the world in the masters (55+) division for Fling Golf, and has become an ambassador to the sport.

During the time it takes to fill up the water tank, Sam and Jonathan have figured they have just enough time to play nine holes of golf…and of course Capon Springs just happens to have one of the prettiest nine-hole golf courses in this part of the country. Their matches are competitive but friendly, usually coming down to the last few holes. One carries a traditional bag of 14 clubs, and the other? A single fling stick for the drive, chip, and putt. 

Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewery.

Besides enjoying recreational play together, the two men’s businesses have joined forces to host a World League FlingGolf Regional teams’ tournament on June 14-16 at Capon Springs, and the stakes are high: East Coast bragging rights for the best foursome and, thanks to Lost Barrel Brewing’s generous donations, the most significant prize money for the sport to date!  An award-winning WV filmmaker and his team will be on hand to document the excitement.  The West Virginia State parks have also jumped on board the FlingGolf train.  In 2024, they are providing not only daily recreational play at all five resort golf courses, but each location will be hosting clinic/tourneys from June to October. 

Both men excel at what they do and how they do it. The fact that their worlds have somehow run parallel and occasionally collide allows us all to benefit from their endeavors. I highly recommend visiting both Capon Springs and the Lost Barrel Brewing. Sam and Jonathan’s strong sense of community and family values are apparent in both establishments. It’s refreshing when good things happen to good people and we all benefit.

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