Golf Course Management

FEB 2017

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

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54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.17 Above: An anhinga takes in a treetop view of the goings-on at Broken Sound CC. Left: Shannon Easter alongside Broken Sound's in-vessel composter. Photos by Kyle Asbury Shannon Easter Broken Sound Country Club Boca Raton, Fla. Overall + National Private winner Of all the commercial entities in the 65,758 square miles that make up the state of Florida, Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton has a recycling rate that, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, ranks among the best. How does the 1,000-acre club, which features 23 tennis courts, a fitness center and spa, a handful of dining facilities, and a pair of 18-hole courses, pull off such a feat? Director of golf mainte - nance and environmental consultant Shannon Easter chalks it up to planning, dedication, and the help of a state-of-the-art, 42-foot-long on-site composter. "All the club's yard waste and food waste — either from food being prepared or what people don't eat — goes into it," says Easter, describing what's known as the environmen - tally controlled waste system, or ECW, which was installed six years ago by the club's previ- ous superintendent, Joseph Hubbard, CGCS. What comes out after five days and about a week spent curing on a nearby plot is a supply of nutrient-rich compost ready to be returned to nourish the terrain, allowing for a full-circle life cycle for the courses' yard refuse. "We're able to recycle 95 percent of everything on property," says Easter, who adds that the ECW alone diverts 500,000 pounds of food waste and 1.2 million pounds of yard waste from the landfill each year, also saving the club substantially on waste disposal expenses while put - ting a dent in its fertilizer, mulch and pesticide costs. For Easter, garnering recognition as a model facility for recycling or, most recently, as the Overall and National Private winner in the 2016 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards are immense honors, yet the quest to cultivate an ecologically abundant oasis with the lowest possible footprint right in the middle of downtown Boca Raton is an ongoing objective, a persistent passion. "We want to continue to be the leader in sustainability," says Easter, a 19-year member of GCSAA. "Every project that arises, we look at how we can use it to positively affect the environment, instead of, 'How do we not hurt the environment?' How do we make it better than what we started with?" What Easter started with when he took the reins at Broken Sound five years ago was two Joe Lee-designed courses — the Old Course, founded in 1978 and host to the annual PGA Champions Tour Allianz Championship, and the Club Course, opened in 1985 — already being maintained to high environmental standards thanks to the groundwork laid by Hubbard (currently the superintendent at Boca Delray Golf & Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla.). The area's subtropical climate and sandy, well-drained soil spawn an assort - ment of lush vegetation that in turn fosters a veritable menagerie of wildlife, from iguanas to raccoons to several species of wading birds that waltz about the 28 lakes on the premises. Easter, a Florida native who graduated from Lake City (Fla.) Community College (now Florida Gateway College) in 1996 with a degree in golf and turf management, made it his goal to keep striving for even greater gains in conscientious management. A big opportunity came with the 2014 renovation of the Old Course. Although the impetus for the project was long-standing agronomic issues, Easter seized the chance to improve water conservation and quality. He experimented with topically applying a carbon filtration product to better hold water and nutrients in the soil, keeping both available to the turfgrass longer while also better filtering out impurities before the water reaches the watershed. The trials were successful, and Easter eventually imple - mented the tactic course-wide, which has led to cuts in both the course's water and fertilizer needs. Now, with the renovation of the Club Course beginning this spring, Easter plans to incorporate the carbon filtration product directly into the soil profile throughout the entire course (which, like the Old Course, has TifEagle bermudagrass greens, Sea- Dwarf seashore paspalum tees and Celebra - tion bermudagrass fairways), with the aim of achieving even larger reductions in water and fertilizer use. The Club Course renovation will also in - troduce a new irrigation system design to ac- count for freshly converted native areas, but- terfly gardens and buffer zones (over the past five years, 17 acres of high-maintenance turf have been removed from the two courses). The update will eliminate 16 irrigation heads and swap 113 full-circle heads for par - tial-circle heads. The result will be a savings of 7.5 million gallons of water per year.

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