Recently on a trip to Southeast Florida, I had the opportunity to drop in and see 18-year GCSAA member, Shannon Easter, director of golf maintenance at Broken Sound Country Club. It was great to visit with Easter. He was a member of my staff when I was an assistant on the Squire Golf Course at PGA National. Shannon and I are planning to undertake a First Green field trip most likely next fall.
As we discussed plans for the field trip, it became apparent that his operation at Broken Sound would provide an excellent opportunity for any students who participated in the experience. Broken Sound has an extensive recycling program. As Shannon relayed to me, the recycling program at his facility is second to only Waste Management in the state of Florida. Broken Sound has achieved a recycling rate in excess of 92 percent. During the first year of operation of their recycling plant, the club composted more than 500,000 pounds of food waste and 1.2 million pounds of yard waste that were ultimately reused on the golf courses.
The use of the composted materials resulted in a number of savings for the facility. In the first year, Broken Sound realized savings of $30,000 on disposal costs, $30,000 on commercial chemical fertilizer costs, $30,000 on chemical sprays for herbicides, fungicides, and pesticide applications, and another $30,000 on purchase of mulch as the yard wastes were ground into mulch and utilized on property.
Shannon was quick to point out that the key to the success of the recycling program and other green initiatives at the club was reliant upon membership buy-in. He indicated that the programs receive so much member support that thinking green is second nature at Broken Sound.
Shannon had a few spare moments so we took a ride on the Old Course which hosts the Champions Tour, Allianz Championship at Broken Sound Golf Club. The event has been cited as having a $15 million economic impact to the local community.
During our ride, Shannon highlighted a number of interesting features of the golf course. We stopped and observed one of the honey bee hives. Shannon pointed out the flight patterns the bees took coming and going from the nest to the top of the nearby cocoplum plants. Their flight back was exactly reversed from their flight out. Being allergic to bees, I was glad they had a pattern to their flight! Shannon indicated that last year the bees produced over 1,000 pounds of honey, and that this year they anticipated doubling that amount with the addition of more hives.
Our last stop on the course was the butterfly gardens. The use of milkweed plantings provides the allure to keep the Monarch butterflies on site. Even under the windy conditions there were a number of butterflies to observe. During the early morning hours, Shannon stated that the he finds countless butterflies in the garden.
I am hopeful that we can match up with a local school and conduct a top notch First Green field trip at Broken Sound. If there were ever a facility that is well suited to showcase the positive environmental impacts that golf courses can provide, Broken Sound more than fits the bill.