Case Study: Broken Sound Club, Florida BMP Program

Broken Sound Club BMPIdentifying the issue

To meet the high expectations, of their profession, golf course superintendents need to develop a detailed management plan that keeps costs low while conserving natural resources on the golf course. Shannon Easter, superintendent at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla., has demonstrated what it takes to develop a well-thought-out plan for Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their course. Broken Sound’s leaders wanted a program to show the public that they were saving money and using environmentally sustainable practices while becoming a more efficient business operation.

Planning a resolution

Easter searched for a program that would meet their management practice needs while meeting the public’s expectations. The “Best Management Practices for the Enhancement of Environmental Quality on Florida Golf Courses” offered a useful tool with management practices specific to Florida courses. This program would improve Broken Sound’s environmental compliance, grow profit, and increase efficiency. Easter found three sections of the Florida BMPs to be particularly helpful for his operation: education, fertilizers and the environmental concepts. The Florida BMP program guided him throughout the process of meeting Broken Sound’s goals and planning BMPs on the course.

Implementing solutions

Easter focused on creating solutions by following the environmental concepts; nutrition and fertilization; and outreach and education aspects of the Florida BMPs. Some of the practices Broken Sound has followed from the Florida BMPs include wildlife habitat creation and monitoring to encourage species diversity.

While monitoring wildlife, 20 beehives were found on the course. The hives produce 200 pounds of honey each year, which is donated to the local community. Broken Sound also installed 27 bat boxes to reduce flying pests and the viruses they transmit. In addition to their wildlife and habitat management, Broken Sound only applies chemicals and fertilizers as needed. This practice helps reduce nutrient runoff to near-by water bodies to decrease the risk of pollution. Implementing BMPs while using a BMP-based guide is a great management tool, but management practices also need to be communicated to the public for clear understanding of how the golf course is managed. Easter and his maintenance crew strive to clearly communicate with the public to help them understand how golf courses can positively impact their local communities. Easter teaches two classes a month on his 1 ½ acre plot designated for education with pollinators. The 20 acres of wildflowers he established now see 6,000-7,000 monarch butterflies each year. To make sure his message gets across to the public, Easter also makes presentations at other facilities that discuss his recycling program, nutrient management program and outreach efforts. He hopes to encourage other superintendents to follow an environmentally based BMP program.

Evaluation of results

By following a BMP guide, Broken Sound Club has saved money, conserved natural resources and operated more efficiently. The cost savings comes from decreased management areas, fertilizer and pesticide applications and increased recycling. The Florida BMPs offered a road map for Easter and Broken Sound Club to professionally manage a golf course that can effectively run on limited resources.