Dustin family celebrates 60 years at Pipestone Creek GC

Lori Dustin (Left) and her father, Bruce (Right), greet customers June 17 as Pipestone Creek Golf Club celebrated 60 years in the Dustin family. Lori took over ownership of the course from her parents, continuing the family tradition.
The Dustin family celebrates 60 years of Pipestone Creek Golf Club ownership.

Dustin family celebrates

60 years at Pipestone Creek GC

By Tom O’Neill

            Bruce Dustin likes to say he’s been growing grass all his life, well maybe most of it. The retired area golf superintendent and the rest of the family are celebrating 60 years at Pipestone Creek Golf Course.

            “My father (Leroy) was superintendent at Berrien Hills Golf Club and always wanted a course of his own. I had just gotten out of the army in ’53 and started working in my mid 20’s. We came into some money and he made me a deal. We bought property and I built and opened the first six holes. The last three holes were completed the following year.” The back nine was finished in 1977.

            “It was a lot of work. I wasn’t married then. My step-mother and sister were involved in running it. I was building and mowing grass.” He later partnered with Bonny Gregg and the two eventually married. The partnership lasted 58 years before her passing June 14.

            As he and his growing family (Bonny, Lori, David and Darcy) operated Pipestone, Bruce was “growing grass” as golf superintendent at Wyndwicke, later The Oaks and wrapping things up at Plym Park in Niles after 20 plus years.

            Dustin remembers George Graber building Blossom Trails about the same time. “He and my dad were good friends. Point of Woods was being built and I think Indian Lakes opened with nine holes. Building golf courses was a booming thing.”

            He also remembers his dad being a charter member of the Golf Course Superintendent Association. “They had a contest once trying to find out who had the most family members in the golf business. We were in the top 10.”

            Fast forward a few decades and golfers now see his daughter, Lori, running and owning the Naomi Road facility. “I was in the corporate environment working in Rockford, MI.” she explained. “I never really planned on owning a golf course. I’ve been here four years and bought it last July.”

            “My dad is out there every day as an unpaid consultant” Dustin said. Rick Nelson is Pipestone’s Ground Manager. “He’s attached to my father’s hip.” Christopher “Freddie” Benson is the oldest member of the grounds crew, having spent 25 years mowing the fairways.

Asked if she had gotten her pesticide application license for the course, Dustin laughed saying “he wouldn’t sign the papers until I did.”

            Dustin, despite still holding down a full time job with Entrepreneurial Success Inc. has already put her stamp on the clubhouse. The kitchen has been upgraded, the grounds spruced up and golfers are enjoying newer golf carts. Her boys, Dustin and Adam both have an interest in helping their mother grow the business. Neither live locally, but both are sharing ideas.

            Kathy Rodell is the course manager in her second season. “She’s been my best friend since kindergarten and knows how to cook. I don’t “Dustin said laughing. Rodell, who doesn’t golf, coordinates leagues, outings and making sure customer service is up to expectations.

            What memories does Dustin have growing up? She talked about the Elks League, probably the oldest still playing at Pipestone Creek and a group known as the “Lily Pad Trio”. The elder Dustin still plays in the league at 87, but there is now a morning shift along with the evening group.  Lori remembers her reddish brown Patty Berg clubs, the barn serving as the clubhouse, three-wheel golf carts and unraveling the rubber inside golf balls.

            Dustin’s long term goal is to see the course stay in the family for another 60 years.

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