Fort Belvoir GC superintendent Ben Ellis’ journey now a book

By |  March 8, 2022 0 Comments


Ben Ellis’ golf journey is as unique as they come. Now, it’s immortalized in a book.

Ellis details his first 100 days as superintendent at The Courses at Andrews Airforce Base in his new book, “The First Hundred Days: Becoming a Golf Course Superintendent and Living to Tell the Story.”

“I had always wanted to write a book, and once I began to get into the golf business, I thought, how great would it be to do a book on what it’s like to really take over (as a superintendent),” he says. “I wanted to write the book no matter where I was. It just so happened to be that I was at Andrews Air Force Base Golf Course.”

Ellis received his turf degree from Penn State University before starting his path towards becoming a superintendent at Andrews. He began as an assistant at the course before becoming the superintendent.

Ellis took over the job full-time after a lengthy search following the retirement of the course’s previous superintendent. He clearly remembers his first reaction to getting the job.

“This is great; now what happens?” Ellis says. “I don’t have anyone to back me up, anything that I do, or anything that the crew does, it’s my fault.”

That’s where his book begins, chronicling the first 100 days of his time on the job and the challenges he faced.

“When a U.S. President comes into office, they have a 100-day plan, and I thought, that’s the same thing golf superintendents do,” Ellis says. “I thought, let’s see it that way. I started with the hundred days, and I took notes every single day. I learned a lot. I also questioned a lot of life choices, like do I really want to be doing this? Do I really like this this much?”

In 2016 Ellis became the superintendent at Andrews, the same year a new president was bringing his 100-day plan to D.C., sparking the idea of his own plan. All did not go as expected as Ellis felt the pressure under the weight of a crumbling irrigation system and expectations from course management.

“My wife at one point would not ask me, ‘How was your day?’ Because it was always that bad.”

Day one of the 100 days was June 17, 2016. Ellis says he and his crew worked seven to eight months without a single day off.

“Grass doesn’t stop growing on weekends and holidays. We were still there; my job was to get results, and I did everything I could to get that.”

After his time at Andrews, Ellis worked at two other golf courses, including Paint Branch Golf Complex in College Park, Md. After his stint at Paint Branch ended after the course was sold to the University of Maryland, he found his way back to his first course, Fort Belvoir.

Ellis is now the superintendent at Fort Belvoir (Va.) GC, where he’s dealt with new challenges in the face of the COVID pandemic. Fort Belvoir was one of the few Virginia golf courses to shut down, leaving Ellis to handle a lot of the workload as his crew was sent home.

The course closed for around three months, according to Ellis. For about a month of that time, Ellis served as a one-person crew, working the 36-holes at Fort Belvoir by himself. Like many courses around the country, Ellis says that Fort Belvoir has rebounded in the time since, thanks to the golf boom.

Ellis’ book is available wherever books are sold.

This is posted in From the Magazine, People

About the Author: Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Golfdom's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Golfdom, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio

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