Desert Willow Golf Course: Nurturing Nature, Reducing Inputs

Desert willow golf course

Carved from the foothills of mountains, surrounded by demanding sand traps and rolling, hilly terrain, Desert Willow Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a challenging course to play, and an equally challenging course to care for. Superintendent, Steve Smith takes pleasure in what he describes as guiding and nurturing nature to deliver peak performance results, despite the rocky terrain and arid desert weather. Suffice to say, Steve likes a challenge!

“The course is special in its own way and Desert Willow is the best golf community I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with,” explains Steve.

Steve has been caring for Desert Willow for nearly two years but has been in the industry for over 20 years. An American, he received his turf management degree in Denmark.

After becoming the superintendent at Desert Willow, Steve quickly began using Holganix products including the HGX PRO Bio 800+ Golf, HGX PRO PB1, and HGX PRO Granular products.  

Since using Holganix products, Steve reports he has seen improved rooting, reduced his water bill by 50%, and seen a drastic reduction in disease outbreaks, among other benefits.

In this case study, we’ll be exploring the following topics as it relates to Desert Willow Golf Course. Click the link to skip to the topic of your choosing!

  1. Which products does Steve use and at what rates?
  2. What results has Steve seen with Holganix products?
  3. What is Steve’s background as a superintendent?
  4. How has his Danish Turf Management education and career shaped his greenskeeping philosophy?
  5. How can you learn more about using Holganix products on your golf course? 


Which Holganix Products Do You Use?

“I use HGX PRO Bio 800+ Golf, HGX PRO PB1, and HGX PRO Granular 10-3-2. I also use HGX PRO Granular 10-3-2 with poultry manure product for overseeding,” explains Steve.

holganix program


What Results Did You See with Holganix Products?

“The first thing I noticed was the roots. The root structure just took off,” explains Steve.

He was also able to make drastic reductions in inputs like water and fungicides. Specifically, Steve reports that his fungus attacks on the greens went down by almost 90%. He explains that Waitea Patch fungus typically hits his greens hard from February - April, but since using Holganix products, he has been able to minimize his fungicide sprays to just one application. When he went wall-to-wall with Holganix products on the course, he explains, “my water bill went down by 50%”. Holganix products foster a healthier soil ecosystem that in turn nurtures a healthier plant that can more easily defend against environmental stressors.   

“Plus,” states Steve, “when I took over the course 1.5 years ago I had 85% coverage of the grass and today I have 100% coverage”

When seeding, Steve used HGX PRO Granular 2-4-3 and reported that he saw germination in four-to-five days, when most in his area would see it in 12 days.

“I also see a big boost in color when I use HGX PRO PB1. I’ll see the color change right away from the morning to the afternoon.” 

Ultimately, according to Steve, “You have to approach using Holganix products like any organic product; it comes down to the tortoise and the hair. You’ll see great results, but you have to be patient and build up the soil and the microorganisms in the soil. We are caring for turf in a harsh environment, we have only two inches of soil, and the rest is pure desert gravel underneath here at Desert Willow; for us, the actual time frame for our best results was about six-to-eight months.” 

Desert willow golf course 


What is Your Background as a Superintendent?

“My start was in Europe, specifically in Denmark,” explains Steve. “I was working as a police officer in Los Angeles, but after the 1992 riots hit, I knew I needed a break.”

Steve and his wife (a Dane) packed up and headed for a month of vacation in Denmark and decided to stay. He had been working in a slaughterhouse in Denmark when he had a shoulder injury.

“In Denmark, you don’t sue a company when you get injured, instead the government steps in and provides re-education in a field of your choice. I chose golf course management and at age 36 I started my turf management degree.”

“I spent 20 years in golf course management in Denmark, ultimately becoming the superintendent at Kolding Golf Club, where he did the first-ever golf course rebuild in Denmark.  It was a 2 ½ year project, before graduating from turf management school. Steve has been a Superintendent ever since.

Eventually, however, it was time for Steve to come back to The States where he worked in California for 6 years and ultimately took the job at Desert Willow.

Steve Smitth

How Has Danish Greenskeeping Guided Your Turf Management Philosophy?

“There is a fundamental difference between the turf management philosophies in Denmark and the U.S.,” explains Steve. “In Denmark, it’s about nurturing nature and working with nature to create the ultimate course. In the U.S., it’s largely about altering nature to force the course into what you want or need it to be.”

“Forcing nature with chemicals and other practices will work, but ultimately, the plants will be completely reliant on the approach, they won’t build up their own natural defenses, and at the end of the day, what’s the cost?” cautions Steve. “Do you really want to be exposed to all of those chemicals? What about your crew? Your golfers?” Your Drinking Water sources!!


Want To Learn More About Using Holganix Products on Your Course?

From Increasing Playability To Improving Turf Recovery, We've Got Your Golf Course Covered!

From the greens to the fairways, and from little league to the pros, we have a library of high-performance products that nurture your golf course or a sports field! Holganix products are crafted with soil health in mind, which means our products provide both the short-term results you are looking for - like improving turf recovery under stressful conditions - but also give you the long-term benefit of building healthy soils that do a lot to care for the plant naturally.

Use our products together in a recommended program or work with one of our Holganix Representatives to build a program that's just right for your golf course or sports field.

Check out our case studies and data to dig in deeper! Or, give us a call to speak with a Holganix representative.  


Posted by Kaitlyn Ersek on Jun 3, 2020 10:56:43 AM

Kaitlyn Ersek

Topics: holganix reviews, golf course

Related posts

Subscribe Here!

Lists by Topic