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19th Hole: Paul Van Buren

By |  December 27, 2022 0 Comments
Photo: Paul Van Buren

Photo: Paul Van Buren

Paul Van Buren

Golf Course Manager // Kanawha Club, Manakin-Sabot, Va.

Paul, what can I get you? Almost always a beer. I love Natural Light. Hazy East Coast IPAs are also a favorite, but those pack on the pounds.

Tell me about Kanawha Club. It’s a private nine-hole par three course just west of Richmond, Va. It’s owner invitation only and a unique and extremely challenging course. We reached full membership in October of this year. We’re only open from April to November, as most of our members reside elsewhere in the winter months.

What got you into the industry? I started at Virginia Tech as a landscape architect to get into golf architecture, but after two summers on maintenance staffs, I changed majors to turf management and was hooked. This industry has some of the best people one could imagine.
What is your all-time golf highlight? Volunteering on the maintenance staff for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne (Australia) and having my father crash with me for two weeks while I was on the ground. It was a pretty special place to have Pops inside the ropes with me.

What is it like living in Manakin-Sabot? Tons of great golf around Richmond, public and private. Otherwise, eat, drink and be merry. Richmond is home to some of the best breweries and dining experiences on the East Coast. The Veil, Triple Crossing, it’s a fun town. Just big enough for occasional traffic but not so overpopulated that it causes anxiety

What makes being a golf course superintendent so special? Easy, it’s the people. We have such a unique profession with interactions on a daily basis. The people in this industry are amazing

What is your most memorable day at work? Fielding a phone call that our 39-year-old assistant superintendent JD Dickinson had died suddenly of a heart attack on Sept. 29, 2014. JD was the most caring, compassionate and hilarious person I’ve ever met; he was always up for a laugh and a round of golf. JD was an accomplished golfer; he had the best short game I’ve ever seen. He left behind two beautiful daughters and a stellar wife.

What do you and Stephanie do for fun? How did you two meet? Funny, we met on eHarmony. We do a lot of things for fun … usually impromptu, almost always eating/drinking somewhere. We don’t have kids, so our dog, Bosco, joins us on most of our adventures. We love to travel. With my schedule and having a closed golf course in winter, we tend to frequent the Southern Hemisphere. I love snow and cold weather, but I don’t ski.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? I proposed to Stephanie before we decorated our first Christmas tree. It’s a tradition we celebrate every year.

This is posted in 19th Hole, From the Magazine

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.


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