Golf Course Management

SEP 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 09.18 On County Road 21, a fairly new hotel is creating quite the buzz. You might as well call GCSAA Class A superintendent Ryan Cummings the builder, owner and caretaker of it. In April, his work was introduced at Elcona Country Club in Bristol, Ind. The bee hotel — another facet of the club's participation as a certified member of Audubon International — was a labor of love for Cummings. "We're always seeing if we can build addi - tional habitat," says Cummings, 39, and a 14-year association member. "We have three owl boxes, which were used for the first time this year. That's pretty cool." All it took was an intriguing sound for Cummings to increase Elcona's ongoing desire to produce a comprehensive Audubon footprint at the prop - erty. "I opened my office door in 2014 and heard the noise. I thought, 'What is that?'" he says. Immediately, he concluded something was wrong. "It was like, 'What is broken now?' We have a road that bisects the property, an area that has about 12 different species of wildflowers. I go out there, and the bees were buzzing in the milkweed and black-eyed Susans," Cummings says. "They're not very far from the golf course, just off the west edge of the 16th fairway." Being anywhere near a golf course was not part of Cummings' original plan. "I'm a late bloomer," he says. Cummings went to Purdue University, earned a degree in food manufacturing operations and landed a job that he soon learned wasn't so tasty. "I was tired of eating my dinner at 4 a.m.," says Cummings, who worked for a major potato chip manufacturer. An avid golf fan, Cummings decided he wanted to be in the golf industry in some capacity. So, at 25, he went back to school, enrolled in turfgrass science at Purdue and secured his second degree there. GCSAA superintendent Jim Scott was instrumental in Cummings' de - velopment. Scott, who oversees Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex at Purdue, set the example. "It was watershed management, learning that working on a golf course property is more than taking care of turf," Cummings says. "It's managing natural resources and being a good steward of the environment." Cummings was an assistant for nearly two years at Elcona before Let it bee GCSAA Class A superintendent Ryan Cummings is stewardship-driven at Elcona Country Club in Bristol, Ind. One of his numerous projects is a bee hotel that he constructed. Photo by Sam Householder

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