11:00 am
July 28, 2017

Golfing Green

Golfing Green
John Crean

Broken Sound Country Club gains another distinction for its sustainability efforts

By Alyssa Fisher

There was a brief lull in John Crean’s office at Broken Sound Country Club, but buzzing filled the silence.

“Oh, yes, those are some of our bees,” he says, pointing to the insect-filled frame on the back table. “I wanted you to see them.”

That was back in September, when Crean, the general manager and chief operating officer of Broken Sound, was trying to raise awareness of the worldwide decline of the honeybee population. The club employs a beekeeper to maintain 22 beehives on its golf courses, where 1 million bees produce 1,000 pounds of honey per year for its members.

The plight of honeybees is one of several environmental causes the Boca Raton club, at 2401 Willow Springs Drive, has taken on since Crean took the helm 14 years ago. Last month, the club won top honors in the 2017 Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards, presented annually by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and Golf Digest magazine. It was the latest accomplishment for a club that ranks among the country’s 70 best, according to Platinum Clubs of America.

Crean enjoys gardening as a hobby, but he wouldn’t call himself a tree hugger. He says it’s a matter of making sustainable decisions that are good for business.

“I see processes out there that can actually benefit the environment without costing a lot of money,” the Parkland resident says. “The initial setup may cost some dollars, but those dollars will come back tenfold if you do it correctly.”

Broken Sound, a private, gated community—host to the PGA Champions Tour’s season-opening Allianz Championship for 10 years—has two 18-hole golf courses certified by the Golf Environment Organization. In addition to the beehives, there’s a butterfly garden and birdhouses. The club’s on-site composting system helps reduce the amount of fertilizer and insecticides sprayed on the courses, which are irrigated with recycled sewage water. Most recently, Broken Sound has installed a Tesla charging station.

Crean stumbled into becoming environmentally conscious. The club once used plastic foam cups—“beautiful white cups that are oddly a sin when you see them blowing across a beautiful green fairway,” he says. Then there were the water bottles with the club logo, which were bad for the environment and cost $40,000 a year. So the club installed water machines and introduced biodegradable, cornstarch-based cups. Soon, solar heaters, water-reduction toilets and showerheads, and motion-sensing lighting systems with LED bulbs were added. It spiraled, Crean says with a laugh. Since then, the club has received honors from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for its 95-percent recycling rate.

“There’s a lot happening,” he says, “but there’s a lot yet to do.”