The EarthWorks Podcast

Listen to The EarthWorks Podcast below! Join our EarthWorks Agronomy Team as they discuss a wide range of topics including: Biological Soil Management, Carbon Based Fertility, and real life experiences managing turf out in the field.

You'll get to know some of the industry experts in the fields of golf course, sports turf and lawn care management. These casual conversations are more than just tech "jargon of carbon". You'll hear real stories from real people.

To stay updated with our latest podcast subscribe to The EarthWorks Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and iHeart Radio.

The EarthWorks Podcast Videos

Many of our podcasts reference visual that have been captured on the full versions. You can view them in their entirity below.

Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville Kentucky is one of the true gems in the golf course industry. A Jack Nicklaus design built over the beautiful rolling hills of central Kentucky. We had the great honor of sitting down with John Ballard, the Golf Course Superintendent. We talked about the rich history of Valhalla, its partnership with the PGA, and the extensive history of tournaments the property has hosted including several PGA Championships and Senior Opens. In 2024 the PGA Championship returns to Valhalla and John shared with us the work that goes into the preparation. At Valhalla they do everything right so there will not only be course prep but some construction as well. Perhaps most importantly John was able to share his philosophy on how to recruit and maintain a top-quality crew and how to build a culture around that team. For the next year and a half John will be the busiest guy in turf!

On this EarthWorks podcast, we spoke with Justin Woodland, who recently set up a GoFundMe page: The Giving Bus Driver was created to help fellow Turf Head, and friend of EarthWorks, Dave Wilber make an impact in his community. While serving as a bus driver in the Littleton, CO school district, Dave began relating to and helping kids he saw on his bus every day. It’s a touching story of true caring that came out of a very basic need of Dave’s to have health insurance. We hope you enjoy and it motivates you to donate to the cause.

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and we wanted to thank you all for supporting EarthWorks over the past 35 years. It is also important to us to remember, and express our gratitude, to Jerry Brunetti who we lost to cancer in 2014. Jerry was our founding partner and the driving force behind EarthWorks. As our original product formulator we would not be here without him. Jerry's formulas remain the backbone of our company, and are still years ahead of their time! We would like to celebrate his life and contributions by rebroadcasting a podcast from July of 2020 where we used some clips from some of his talks. Jerry is still one of the biggest voices in sustainable agriculture and his book “The Farm as Ecosystem” is widely read. Jerry was a soil scientist, a horticulturist, and a specialist in animal husbandry. But most importantly he was a friend and mentor.

Time to change it up on the EarthWorks podcast and feature your crazy, funny, wild stories related to golf course maintenance. Kevin Hicks narrates this silly stuff that we all have witnessed on our golf courses. We want to thank all the listeners, and friends, for contributing the content for this edition. It’s important to laugh in the face of some of the seriousness that dominates the career of a turf manager. Don’t forget to subscribe to the EarthWorks podcast and please continue to share your funny stories with all of us.

The golf course was barely visible as the robotic voice interrupted my jam, “you have reached your destination.” Cruising down the long driveway the golden November sunrise revealed fog-laced, emerald fairways and the setting of this week's podcast Paramount Country Club. If you are looking for a detailed soils and golf talk then our guest Matthew Kerens will not disappoint. Paramount is an A.W. Tillinghast gem and Matt started his job right after the culmination of a multi year, mainly in-house renovation. He talks about the specific processes to blend newly renovated areas to maintain continuity. Kentucky bluegrass tees posed a problem and Matt explains how he overcame that without disruption. All of this was accomplished with a minimalist’s approach to fertility and water. Biological soil management at its finest!

You always remember your first! For EarthWorks that’s Green Pond Country Club in Bethlehem PA. It was the first place that EarthWorks fertilizer was ever spread. This took place before Rodger Zellner joined the team as golf course superintendent. When we first met Rodger, he had a pretty good idea of how to grow grass. After walking him through the EarthWorks program, that was being used on the property, we got the feeling that we may not hear from him again. As Rodger tells the story he would fertilize by sight – a technique that always worked for him. After starting his new job, he found himself very busy and realized that he hadn’t gotten to fertility - then he also realized that he didn’t need to! So, we heard from him again asking us what it was we had been doing. Today he is a biological soil management believer!

We are joined by Golf Course Architect David Druzisky whose work can be found all around the western United States. This puts him on the front lines of designing for dwindling water availability. We covered a number of topics related to the latest renovation trends. David describes his process for design from concept to finished product, which includes hand drawn sketches all the way to construction documents on autocad. We discussed the role of the superintendent in achieving a successful outcome on a renovation or construction project. We also covered the benefits and pitfalls of in-house construction and what should be tackled by the staff. In addition, we wanted to get David’s thoughts on how current labor, resource scarcity (water and fertilizer), and technology changes are influencing his work. It’s a fun conversation we hope you enjoy.

Oxygen may be the most important nutrient in all of turf management. If there is too much water in the soil, oxygen will not be present, and few plants can survive. In 1984 Dennis Hurley founded Turf Drainage Company of America. By using a few patented products, he started helping golf courses move unwanted water off of playing surfaces. Today Dennis, along with his National Account Manager, Zach Boudreaux, are fixing drainage problems with their Turf Drain system. They discuss how water moves across a water shed and how it can best be moved away from turf surfaces. By applying the principles of hydrodynamics, water can be redirected away from sensitive areas of the golf course allowing the superintendent to avoid the problems of anaerobic soils. Dennis discusses some of their tools that they run through drainage lines that work to move water away. He also covers some basic principles of how to lay out a drainage strategy on any golf course.

Ken Lochridge, Golf Course Superintendent at Glen Head Country Club tells some stories about fortitude and steadfast work as a turf student and young green keeper in the Long Island golf course industry. Good things come to those who wait and work hard and Ken’s experience reinforces that great notion. He discusses the challenges of limited budget and man power, working for demanding bosses, and making a mark on what is already a wonderful golf course. All makes for a fun and informative interview.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Lawrence Mayhew

Humic acids have come into favor recently in the turf industry. However, there is still a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to what they do and how to know if you really have good humic substances in your products. Lawrence Mayhew, a world renowned humic substances expert, talks with us about what good humic acids really look like. As a founding member of the Humic Products Trade Association (HPTA), Lawrence helped build the protocol that is now internationally accepted to qualify whether or not we are actually dealing with humic acids. We also talked about how humic acids can help any soil in building biological buffers that help to feed microbes and sequester toxins.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Randy Haffling

Managing over 100 acres on the 6th oldest college campus in the United States is not an easy task. Randy Haffling has been doing just that for over 14 years at Moravian University in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. For the last six years, he has embraced a biological soil management program for the campus. This has changed the soil chemistry bringing the soil pH down by a full point. He has also built a level of soil sustainability that has kept the campus vibrant even during one of the worst droughts. In addition, his campus wide tree inventory allowed everyone to see the true economic assets that the campus provides to the community. This has allowed him to make stronger economic decisions when it comes to the tree population that is also managed with a biological soil management program.

EW Podcast - Kevin Hicks with Brian Boll

This week’s podcast features a conversation with Brian Boll and Kevin Hicks. Brian leads a great team at the venerable Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis. As a high school kid, I had the chance to play it several times with my golf team, and it’s been a treat to re-visit the club so many years later and play a small part in an upcoming renovation at the famous club. One of the many things that has gained worldwide notoriety for the club was the 1930 US Open where Bobby Jones skipped his second shot on the par-5 ninth hole off the water, making an up and down birdie. My high school coach (a real golf history nut) stopped each of us at the plaque marking the famed shot so we could appreciate it.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Peter McCormick Part 2

This is the second of a two part podcast series with Joel Simmons and Peter McCormick, founder and maestro of TurfNet. Peter talks about his challenges, over the years, with depression, alcohol and other mental health considerations. He shares some of the warning signs and coping strategies that turf managers should be aware of.

In Part 1, the topics ranged from McCormick's background in the greenhouse and turf industries, his rebounding from various terminations and the beginning of TurfNet. They also discuss COVID and its repercussions for TurfNet and throughout the industry, now and moving forward. Peter touches on business planning (or not), decision making, innovation and other factors that have enabled TurfNet to change the turf industry for the better over the past 28 years.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Peter McCormick Part 1

This is the first of a two part podcast series with Joel Simmons and Peter McCormick, founder and maestro of TurfNet. Topics range from McCormick's background in the greenhouse and turf industries, his rebounding from various terminations and the beginning of TurfNet. They also discuss COVID and its repercussions for TurfNet and throughout the industry, now and moving forward. Peter touches on business planning (or not), decision making, innovation and other factors that have enabled TurfNet to change the turf industry for the better over the past 28 years.

EW Podcast - Kevin Hicks with John Murray

This week we chat with John Murray, equipment manager for the Federal Club and the Kanawha Club, both located in VA. We discuss how he juggles jobs at two courses, family life, and his unique craft of guitar building. John's background is diverse ranging from managing a playground equipment company, to being a caddy, and finally an equipment technician. Coming to the industry later in life, he brings experience that helps him manage all the things in his two shops. John’s unique skill set contributes to his ability to develop systems and organizational strategies. We discussed how he became a luthier (a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars), what he likes about that hobby, and how it relates to other things he’s tackled in his life. A self taught guy in all disciplines of his career, we think you’ll find this conversation very inspiring.

EW Podcast - Jack Higgins with Chris May

This podcast is a must listen for anyone in the turf industry who wants to turn heads. Chris is the Director of Athletic Grounds at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He discusses the path that led him to his role today. Learn how he creates innovation by working with the administration and coaches at Georgia Tech. Learn about his experience with Cool Season Kentucky Bluegrass fields in the heat of Georgia!

EW Podcast - Kevin Hicks with Jaime Sharp

Meet Golf Pro Jaime Sharp, formerly the Director of Golf at The Valley Club in Hailey, ID and current President of Advanced Scoreboards, LLC. During the conversation, we got an update on the development of the Tasktracker software. Then we dove into a discussion about the relationship between the Golf Shop and Golf Maintenance departments within a facility. Jaime and his Superintendent, Gerald Flaherty, CGCS had a very successful working relationship based on communication and a mutual understanding of each other's operations. This critical partnership is often less than positive, and Jaime shares his thoughts on how to strengthen this relationship for a smoother operation.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Eric Richardson

Eric Richardson, Director of Grounds at Essex County Club in Manchester Massachusetts, may be the hardest working turf manager in the golf industry. He has taken on one of the most iconic golf courses in the industry and made it better. Eric has big shoes to fill at Essex, as he is one of only a few superintendents to hold the title in its over 120-year history. On that list of former superintendents is the architect Donald Ross. The Essex Club's history is rich and the house that Ross lived in during his time there is still on the property. However, the real story here are the amazing changes that Eric and his team have made for the better on this property. He was able to bring this course back to the original Ross design and expose rock outcroppings not seen in decades. Tree removal was a focus, and the results created unbelievable new views of the club house and golf course.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Lorabeth Catterson & Madison Rudsinski

Lorabeth Catterson and Madison Rudsinski are rising stars in the golf course industry and have been active volunteers at some of the biggest tournaments in the game. Both recently volunteered at the US Open at the Country Club in Boston and we talk about how wonderful that experience was for everyone involved. They were also both volunteers at the groundbreaking 2021 US Women’s Open at the Olympic Club and reflect on that experience as well. What is the life of an Assistant Golf Course Superintendent like? We discuss this and more in a fun and informative conversation.

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Bob Searle

Bob Searle, Golf Course Superintendent at The Abenakee Club on the coast of Maine, is a long time EarthWorks supporter. He talks about his passion for building soils on his golf course and the challenges of what the Maine coast can do to a golf course year-round. Many golf course superintendents think that it must be easy to grow grass that far north, but Bob breaks down that myth and shares stories of tough winters and some harsh summers as well. His passion for his career is evident in this interesting and sometimes funny conversation!

EW Podcast - Joel Simmons with Fred Walters

Acres USA is a publishing house that is generally known as the voice of sustainable agriculture. They have published hundreds of publications on subjects ranging from agronomy to raising dairy cows. Fred Walters, the former publisher of Acres USA, shares stories with us about his father Chuck Walters who started the Acres USA monthly magazine and book publishing business. Acres USA is the voice of sustainable agriculture and has made famous many of the top agronomists in the business today like Dr. Willian Albrecht and our own co-founder Jerry Brunetti. This is a unique, fascinating, and entertaining conversation with one of the innovators in all of agronomy.