The Holganix Blog

Holganix Case Study Maximizing Playability And Sustainability At Broken Sound Club

Shannon Easter Blog

Shannon Easter, Director of Sustainability and Golf Maintenance at Broken Sound Golf Club has been using Holganix Bio 800+ Golf for 5 years now. According to Shannon, Holganix Bio 800+ Golf has served as a tool to meet his sustainability, soil health and agronomic goals at the two courses he manages at Broken Sound.

In this blog we’ll explore the results Shannon has seen with Holganix Bio 800+ Golf over the years with a reflection by Holganix Director of Soil & Plant Science, Dr. Robert Neidermyer on the science behind those results.

Both a written section and video clips are provided from the interview for your use. If you are reading this blog via email, click here to access a copy of the article that contains videos.

What is Holganix Bio 800+ Golf? Holganix Golf is a member of the Bio 800+ family of products. It harnesses the power of over 800 species of soil microbes to build soil health, stimulate root growth and grow stronger plants that require fewer fertilizers and pesticides to be healthy.

Meeting Sustainability Goals at Broken Sound with Reductions in Fertilizer, Fungicide and Irrigation

Broken Sound Golf Club isn’t new to the world of sustainability. In fact, the exclusive, award winning country club was “the second golf facility in the US and the 14th in the world to be GEO certified - the sustainability assurance of the international non-profit Golf Environment Organization.” Broken Sound has also received Audubon Sanctuary Certification for both of their golf courses and established the first industrial composting project in Florida. In addition, Broken Sound has been recognized for recycling 96% of its solid waste. “In the state of Florida, we are the second largest recycler - just behind Waste Management,” says Shannon Easter.

In 2016, Shannon accepted the coveted Environmental Leaders in Golf Award (ELGA), presented annually by GCSAA and Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta and Rain Bird’s Golf Division.

Holganix: Shannon, can you comment about how you use Holganix Bio 800+ Golf to reduce your fungicide, fertilizer and irrigation needs on both courses?

Shannon: Holganix Bio 800+ Golf allows us to maximize the fertility in the soil and make it available. Overall, we have reduced our fungicide inputs by 30% and our use of nitrogen by 20%. Our irrigation has also been reduced by 12%; that’s because Holganix Golf has allowed us to grow a deeper, more web-like root system.

We create tailored programs for each course because of their different soil types. For example, the old course is predominantly sandy soils and the new course has richer soils. In the old course we apply 4 applications via fertigation and on the new course we apply just 3 applications.

We haven’t just backed off rates on our turf, but also on our annuals. We mix the Holganix Golf with our compost and use it when planting annuals. Over the past 3 years we haven’t needed a single fungicide application on our annuals and I attribute that to Holganix Golf.  

Holganix: Dr. Bob, can you tell us about the science behind Holganix Bio 800+ Golf and why Shannon has been able to reduce his inputs?


Dr. Bob: The microbes contained in Holganix Bio 800+ Golf are going to conduct three core activities in order to help maximize Shannon’s use of fertilizer, fungicides and irrigation.

1. Microbes in Holganix Golf promote root development which will allows roots to better access nutrients and water in the soil. A class of microbes known as Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria (PGPB) form a synergistic relationship with the plant to build plant roots. PGPB stimulate direct root growth of the primary roots - those roots that grow down into the soil, others stimulate root growth of the secondary roots - those roots that grow laterally or horizontally in the soil.

2. Microbes in Holganix Golf unlock primary and secondary nutrients already in the soil.

3. Microbes in Holganix Golf trigger the plant’s natural defense system called Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) and Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) that combats pathogens or allows the plant to better handle situations like a drought or dealing with an abundance of water. What happens between the plant and the microbes is a kind of chemical dialogue. Microbes also help through competitive displacement by occupying space around and on the plant that might have allowed pathogens close to the plant.

50% Increase in Root Mass Leads To Healthier Turf That Requires Less Irrigation

Holganix: Shannon, you alluded to the fact that you were able to reduce your irrigation because of the root mass. Can you talk to us about what you have seen with Holganix Golf and roots? I know you were our 2015 Holganix Roots For You winner for having the most impressive root mass in the golf industry.

Shannon: Take a look at the two pictures below.

turf roots

The one on the left is with celebration turf on the new course. The turf is just 4 weeks old in that picture and it is growing in sandy soils. Those roots wound up being 22 inches long! It is pretty impressive.

The picture on the right is from turf just 11 days old. That area received a second application of Holganix Golf, so it really shows the potential if you can double up your application rate.

Holganix: Dr. Bob, can you tell us what about Holganix Bio 800+ Golf that allows Shannon and other turf professionals to get such a deep root mass?

Dr. Bob: It comes back to the PGPB and the plant growth hormones they release to grow primary and secondary roots.

Enhancing Soil Health Means Big PayOffs in Turf Performance

Holganix: You had sent us a bunch of data regarding a bump in soil health with Holganix Golf. In specific, you pointed out an increase in your cation exchange capacity (CEC) and a decrease in your soil organic matter. Can you tell us a little about those results?

Shannon: CEC is the soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients in the soil and make them available to the plant. So, the higher I can get my CEC the easier it is for my turf to access nutrients. The data below demonstrates these results, showing a 13% average increase in CEC on fairways and a 27% average increase on greens.

Our Soil Organic Matter (SOM) also decreased with the use of Holganix Golf on our greens. That means the thatch is being minimized and allows us to go longer in between renovations. Overall we saw a 29.55% average decrease in our SOM on the new courses’ greens and tees.Soil Organic Matter Chart broken sound

Bland Cooper who was our PGA Tour agronomist took a pressure test of our greens. It was the first time he got 10 pounds on greens that are over 12 years old. That just shows you how incredible it was to reduce our thatch and increase CECs.  

Holganix: Dr. Bob can you tell us a little bit about why Holganix Golf would be able to provide such a considerable boost in soil health?

Dr Bob: Microbes in Holganix Bio 800+ Golf contribute to soil health because it’s microbes nature to break down organic matter. A healthy soil is dependent upon the soil’s ability to break down organic matter into humus. If organic matter doesn’t break down, disease occurs in the soil. Ultimately, this process leads to improved soil structure which leads to an increase in CEC, moisture movement and soil atmosphere movement.

Shortening the Grow In Period During Renovations

Holganix: Shannon, you used Holganix during renovations in 2014 and 2018. Can you tell us about the results you saw?


Shannon: We really saw an increase in the speed that the turf was growing in at. Specifically, in the 2014 renovations we were able to open one course six weeks early and the other eight weeks early. One of the reasons why the courses opened early was because Holganix Golf allowed us to increase our grow in speed.

Holganix: Dr. Bob, can you tell us how Holganix Bio 800+ Golf can help other courses during a renovation?

Dr. Bob: For renovations it comes down to roots. When establishing a new turf - whether it be a lawn or a golf green - success is critically reliant on developing a strong root system. Microbes in Holganix Golf that contribute to root growth include but are not limited to PGPB, Mycorrhizae and Trichoderma.

Additional Conversations with Shannon @ Broken Sound Club

If you want to learn more about Shannon’s results with Holganix Golf, check out the below video and article topics.

1. Nematodes - Shannon discusses results he has seen with an unnamed Holganix Technology and nematode reductions.

2. Soil Health - Shannon digs deeper into results on CEC and Soil Organic Matter (SOM).

3. Plant Installations - Shannon discusses how he uses Holganix Golf when planting annuals and on trees and shrubs to ensure survival at planting and to build overall plant strength.

4. Golf Trends - Shannon goes into two key trends he is seeing in the golf industry that he feels superintendents should be aware of.

Download Our Ingredient List

Want to learn more about the Holganix Golf product, download our ingredient list using the link below and be sure to give us a call at 866-56-EARTH to get in touch with one of our representatives!

What's in the Holganix Bio 800+ jug?  Check out our ingredient list!

Tags: holganix reviews, golf course, holganix review, broken sound country club

Boosting soil and plant health at Broken Sound Country Club

“Over the past 10 years, the only thing I’ve changed in my agronomic program is the addition of Holganix,” says Shannon Easter, Director of Golf Maintenance of Broken Sound Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. “I use it religiously.”

Overall, Holganix has enabled Easter to reduce his inputs, increase turf and root health and speed recovery time on the course, ultimately boosting sustainability.

Broken Sound Country Club isn’t new to the world of sustainability. In fact, the exclusive, award winning country club was “the second golf facility in the US and the 14th in the world to be GEO certified - the sustainability assurance of the international non-profit Golf Environment Organization.” Broken Sound has also received Audubon Sanctuary Certification for both of their golf courses and established the first industrial composting project in Florida. In addition, Broken Sound has been recognized for recycling 95% of its solid waste.

Needless to say, at Broken Sound, the golf maintenance team takes sustainability seriously. “Once a year, we have a seminar with the members, notifying them of what’s going on at the courses and how we are reducing our carbon footprint. They know all about Holganix.”

For Easter, Holganix didn’t just make sense from a sustainability standpoint but also agronomically. “When looking at the chemistry of the soil on both courses, Holganix just made sense.”  

Broken Sound consists of two unique courses: The Old Course and The Club Course. The Old Course is the older of the two and contains sandy soils while The Club Course is newer and has denser soils. Because nutrients leach faster in sandy soils, “we make more frequent, lighter Holganix applications on our older course and apply Holganix heavier but less frequently on the newer course.” As a result, consistency and uniformity of turf health has improved on both courses.


Reducing Synthetic Inputs

“We’ve also noticed a substantial reduction in the presence of disease pressure and have decreased our fungicide use by 30%. That’s less than I’ve EVER used in the past.” Furthermore, he has reduced his use of nitrogen fertilizers by 20%.


Broken Sound on Root Health

Turf health isn’t the only benefit Easter has seen with Holganix. There have been huge improvement in root length, mass and density. In fact, Easter won the 2014 Holganix “Roots For You” Award for the longest turf roots in America.

“But the roots aren’t just longer,” says Easter. “We’ve seen a 50% increase in mass and density. Roots are longer and more dense than I’ve ever seen at Broken Sound.”

Because of his healthy roots, Easter has been able to reduce irrigation by 12-13%. “That’s substantial savings for a course like ours,” states Easter.


Soil Analyses: CEC and Organic Matter Results

When Easter received his soil analysis results this year, he was excited by data showing increases in CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) and decreases in organic matter.

Overall, since using Holganix on his new course, he’s seen a 17% increase in CEC on fairways and a 27% increase on greens. On his older course (features sandy soils), CEC increased on fairways and tees by 9%. Interestingly enough, when Easter treated his greens without Holganix on the older course he saw a 5% decrease in CEC.

Cation Exchange Capacity is the ability of the soil to maintain and release nutrients to the plant. It’s the plant’s pantry. The larger the CEC, the more nutrients the pantry can hold and release to the plant. It’s a crucial measurement to plant health. The two main components of CEC are humus (the decomposed result of organic matter) and clay content.

So, why did CEC increase so drastically on the newer course as compared to the old?

That’s because it’s often harder to boost CEC in sandy soils, where nutrients easily leach and organic matter is limited. For sandy soils, increases in organic matter can be beneficial (leads to humus), however for courses with denser soil, decreases in organic matter can be a huge benefit.

Why is organic matter a huge benefit? When organic matter degrades and is broken down by organisms, the end result is humus. Humus is a key ingredient in CEC, therefore, increase in humus often means an increase in CEC.

That’s why, when Easter received test results showing a decrease in organic matter on The Club Course he was intrigued. Ultimately, organic matter dropped on fairways by 6.5%, 29.9% on greens and 29.2% on paspalum tees.  The decrease in organic matter on the new course demonstrates that the living microorganisms in Holganix are hard at work, breaking down the organic matter, turning it into food sources for the plant and boosting CEC!


The Club Course Soil Analaysis

Dates: 9/20/14 – 9/20/15

Soil Type: Denser soils, formerly a strawberry farm, newer of the two courses



Old Course Soil Analysis

Dates: 9/20/14 – 9/20/15

Soil Type: Sand based soils



Renovations at Broken Sound

Perhaps one of Easter’s favorite success stories with Holganix was in 2014, when Broken Sound underwent a renovation on their older course.

“Normally, after a renovation superintendents can expect to be mowing turf again in about six weeks. We were mowing turf in four!” Because of their amazing results, “we had superintendents from a dozen different states and three different countries examining the course. It was just that great.”



Easter doesn’t just use Holganix on greens and tees, “we use it wall to wall throughout the entire property and even on ornamentals.” Fairways experienced an improvement in rooting and divots filled in faster. “Recovery has been unbelievable.” Easter has also seen “way less disease pressure on his ornamentals.”

“I think the future of golf should include Holganix,” says Easter. Input restrictions are already happening for homeowners and lawn care companies, “It’s just a matter of time before they restrict golf too.”  When it comes to reducing inputs and keeping nutrients out of waterways, “Holganix should be part of everyone’s program”

Soil Science

Tags: florida golf course, sustainable golf course, cation exchange capacity, broken sound country club, shannon easter, root health, synthetic inputs