Whatever Happened To: Dave Hanten

Golf legend has long been linked to Willow Run

Virginia Olson, For the Argus Leader November 22, 2014
Photo: Joe Ahlquist / Argus Leader

Founded in 1986, Willow Run Golf Course became the first privately owned, publicly playable 18-hole course in the state.

Dave Hanten was the brainchild behind the course and its concept. As a golf guru and banker who saw potential, Hanten convinced others that a 160-acre tract east of Sioux Falls would best serve as a golf course.

Loving its landscape, Hanten saw the vast piece of land as a beautiful place with its elevation changes and many trees.

“With 15 years’ business experience in the banking industry and instinctively knowing what golfers would like, the right people bought into the idea,” Hanten says. “Ironically, not a single golf hole had been built in 16 years. Willow Run would be the first with 18 holes, and I am pretty proud of that.”

Hanten became the general manager, a position he relished for 28 years. “I am one of the few people I know who got to turn an avocation into a vocation,” he says.

Since Willow Run was built, 108 holes have been created across the state.

As the sport grew, Hanten continued to be one of the state’s golf ambassadors.

Hanten was billed as one of the state’s finest amateur golfers. At 15, he finished second in the state’s match play championship. While in high school at Huron, he won two state high school golf championships. In college at Arizona State, he won the conference golf championship in 1967. He went on to win six major state titles and was named the South Dakota Golf Association’s male golfer of the year in 1978 and 2002. He’s also honored in the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.

Hanten credits two people as instrumental in his success.

“My father, Richard, introduced me to the game of golf. Hobe Richards Sr. was my longtime instructor in Huron,” he says. “Both men played a big role in my life.”

Three years ago, Hanten helped Willow Run weather the storm when a major stockholder declared personal bankruptcy. Then the golf course’s dim future changed. Willow Run was sold to Tom Walsh in 2012.

“Willow Run itself was financially viable,” Hanten says. “It was simply a matter of Mr. Walsh’s decision to assume complete ownership of the course. Needless to say, myself and the entire Willow Run team are thrilled with his ability to facilitate Willow Run in the process of reaching its full potential.”

Today, Willow Run is part of GreatLife Malaska Golf and Fitness. Now the director of golf, Hanten has watched the golf course become even better than he had dreamed possible.

“Tom has lots of energy, drive and vision,” Hanten says. “He is a real entrepreneur who wants to showcase Willow Run.”

However, the number of people playing golf in general has been dwindling in the past decade.

Hanten thinks Willow Run along with GreatLife Malaska Golf and Fitness has taken a fresh approach to the game that will not only bring people back to the sport but also attract new players. There’s the new three-hole short game practice facility and plans to build a nine-hole par three course. In addition, a new clubhouse and apartment complex are being built.

Golf’s “a lifelong sport,” Hanten says. “There hasn’t been a day where I have felt like I was working.”


Todd Kolb has been named the 2014 Teacher of the Year for the Dakota Chapter of the Minnesota PGA. Also selected in 2010, it is the second time Kolb has been recognized by his fellow PGA members. Todd has been a long time part of the Willow Run family and embodies the high standards GreatLIFE strives to bring their members.

“I have been very fortunate to be part of the Willow Run team for over 20 years and my dream of building the best teaching academy in the area would not have been possible without my good friend Dave Hanten. With the recent addition of our new owner Tom Walsh and GreatLIFE Golf, we are now in the process of expanding our program, building a new hitting bay and providing nothing but the best coaching for our students. I am excited to see what the next 20 years will bring,” said Kolb.

Todd Kolb played collegiate golf at New Mexico State University before dedicating himself to teaching young golfers full-time. He has been a member of the PGA since 1993 and in 2000, opened the Todd Kolb Golf Academy at Willow Run Golf Course. Todd has been recognized as one of the premier teachers in the upper Midwest with numerous awards and certifications throughout his distinguished career. He runs Team 605 and has developed a teaching and coaching style that consistently produces the best players in the area. Students of Kolb include numerous Division I players and LPGA Tour rookie Kim Kaufman.

Willow Run & Lloyd Companies Celebrate Groundbreaking October 8


Making way for the future, Lloyd Companies and Willow Run are proud to host a groundbreaking event on October 8 at 4:30 p.m. at Willow Run Golf Course. The public is invited to help us celebrate this unprecedented collaboration and learn more about the building of upscale apartments – The Bluffs at Willow Run – and the impressive new clubhouse and other lavish amenities that will soon be available at Willow Run.

This extraordinary 161-unit apartment community will provide living solutions for people who are ready to trade up to a simpler, carefree lifestyle with convenient luxuries and amenities just outside their door – a place they can entertain with confidence and pride. The clubhouse, adjacent to the apartments, features an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, full-service bar and grill, and banquet facilities for 200 people.

As holes are dug to pour concrete for a new clubhouse and apartment complex, the displaced earth is being used to extend the driving range and form a new short-game practice area. More meaningful than the groundwork of one new project providing the materials for another is Willow Run’s history – the history that has established a base upon which the future will be built.

The History of Willow Run

Founded in 1986, Willow Run Golf Course brought a new concept in course management to the Sioux Falls area. As the first privately owned, publicly playable course in South Dakota, Willow Run created a model that would be imitated by many. Twenty-eight years later, Willow Run is part of GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness and is again challenging traditional ideas about how a golf course should operate. If Willow Run’s history is any indication of its future, expect people to again take notice.

In 1971, Westward Ho Country Club added nine holes to their golf course. The following 16 years saw not a single new golf hole built in Sioux Falls. In those days, most courses were privately owned and member-exclusive or municipally owned and played to capacity. For years, Elmwood was the only public 18-hole golf course in the area and at 80,000 rounds per year, was turning players away.

Seeing opportunity in the absence of availability, a group of local businessmen and women developed a new concept to bring golf to a greater number of players in the region. From the inception, these 23 investors were determined to do things differently. Construction of a new course and clubhouse began in 1986. Willow Run opened in 1987 as the first 18-hole golf course in South Dakota to be open to the public while being owned privately. Immediately it helped fill the void for public golf in the area.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the visionaries behind Willow Run have much to be proud of. While the 16 years preceding Willow Run saw no expansions, 108 new golf holes were built in the immediate Sioux Falls area during the 16 years that followed, with most mirroring the business model pioneered at Willow Run.

To stand out, Willow Run found a niche in hosting corporate events. More than 1,800 events, most charity or memorial tournaments, have been held on the grounds in the last 27 years. According to those connected, close to $5 million has been raised through these events. Even more than the celebrities or professionals who have played the course, this is what brings satisfaction to those involved.

Three of Willow Run’s founding members bought out remaining shareholders in 1998 and in 2011 ownership again changed hands when Tom Walsh, Sr. purchased the course. Over $1 million in capital improvements were made the following year and shortly after, Willow run saw its one-millionth round played.

Walsh introduced GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness in 2014 and immediately introduced additional improvements to enhance the playing experience. Blue and yellow family tees were added and free clinics for adults, juniors and families were launched. It all must be working. While golf suffers a decline nationally, Willow Run and other GreatLIFE courses have seen record numbers of families, women and couples come out to play during the first year. As golfers pay one low rate for unlimited access to any of GreatLIFE’s facilities, perceptions about how a golf course ought to be managed are once again being changed. GreatLIFE is the future of golf.

The future of Willow Run couldn’t be brighter. With a state-of-the-art clubhouse and apartment complex under construction, a driving range that will be extended to include four new target greens and a three-green practice area being added, residents and guests will get a taste of the good life at Willow Run.

Dave Hanten has been with Willow Run since the beginning. As he watches the demolition of the clubhouse to make way for the new, he is, “more excited than melancholy. It gives us the opportunity to make improvements to the golf course and see the land finally reach its full potential.”

The 62,000 cubic yards of dirt moved to build foundations for the clubhouse and apartments will be used to make the improvements to the driving range and short-game practice facility. In a way, digging one foundation is building another. This combination of physical and historical foundation previews an exciting future for Willow Run, GreatLIFE members, and golfers throughout the region.


GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club, established in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2013, brings together golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles to enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles. With unlimited access for members, the company is committed to offering the best in value, convenience and hospitality throughout the region.

GreatLIFE members get unlimited access (based on membership level) to multiple golf courses and fitness centers, and all the amenities that go along with them, for one great price. Our GreatLIFE facilities are Willow Run, Bakker Crossing, Central Valley, EmBe and Woodlake Athletic Club. GreatLIFE affiliates include Hidden Valley, Hiawatha, River Ridge, Luverne Country Club, Rock River, Emerald Hills Golf Club, Okoboji View, Rocky Run and The Bridges at Beresford golf courses, McCook Wellness, Ideal Weigh, Austad’s and Golf Addiction. GreatLIFE Partners in Health are Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, Orthopedic Institute and DAKOTACARE. Learn more at


Established in 1972, Lloyd Companies began in South Dakota as a small family-operated firm and has grown into a full-service property management, real estate, construction and development company that continues to grow not only in Sioux Falls, but also throughout the Midwest. Lloyd Companies is committed to the past while defining the future. Learn more at

Willow Run Closing For Construction

Willow Run Golf Course will be closing for the season at the end of the day Sunday, October 5, as construction begins on a new clubhouse and apartment complex.  Bakker Crossing and Central Valley golf course will remain open for members of GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness.

“We don’t like closing early, but it’s a necessary step as we move forward with our improvements at Willow Run.  When we reopen next year, it will be well worth it.  In the meantime, it’s a great opportunity for our members who normally play Willow Run to get out and try one of GreatLIFE’s other great courses like Bakker Crossing or Central Valley,” said GreatLIFE general manager Donn Hill.

In addition to Bakker Crossing and Central Valley, GreatLIFE members have access to Woodlake Athletic Club, EmBe, McCook Wellness and GreatLIFE affiliate courses Hidden Valley, River Ridge, Hiawatha, Luverne Country Club, The Bridges at Beresford, Wild Oak, Rock River, Emerald Hills*, Okoboji View* and Rocky Run*.

*Some Restrictions Apply


GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is proud to host the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at Willow Run as part of the 2015 Symetra Tour – Road to the LPGA.

The tournament will be held September 3-6, 2015 at Willow Run Golf Course and will provide an unprecedented opportunity for Sioux Falls to seal its reputation as a world-class destination city with all the amenities necessary to host an event of this magnitude. The Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge at Willow Run is one of only four 72-hole events on the tour.

According to GreatLIFE president Tom Walsh, “We’re proud to be a part of bringing this national tour to South Dakota for the first time in its history. It supports passion for the game of golf and keeps the dreams of young golfers alive, and that reflects our mission at GreatLIFE. It’s just a great opportunity for the city of Sioux Falls to shine.”

The Symetra Tour, the best-established women’s developmental tour in the world, is entering its 35th year and has a mission to prepare the world’s best young women professional golfers for a successful career on the LPGA Tour.

The Road to the LPGA has been designated as the LPGA’s official developmental tour. More than 500 Symetra Tour alumnae have earned LPGA membership.

For more information on the Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge including sponsorship, volunteering and pro-am opportunities, visit or contact Rod Garrison at 605-530-5274.

The Mind/Body/Happy Connection

It’s elementary. You, plus exercise, all adds up to a healthier body, a healthier brain, and a happier you.

At GreatLIFE, we want to make it simple – and affordable – to get healthy and stay fit. If you are a member…great choice! If you’re not a member, your need to check out our amazing fitness facilities and equipment in GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club, EmBe Fitness & Aquatics, Bakker Crossing Golf Course, Willow Run Golf Course and McCook Wellness. Renovated and updated, these clubs have state-of-the-art equipment and facilities that make your fitness challenges a little easier to overcome.

As the kids go back to school and the weather makes outdoor workouts a little less appealing, you can get and stay in shape with unlimited fitness at GreatLIFE for a great price.

Do it now! This is why…

• $29.99 per month for individuals.
• $49.99 per month for couples.
• $59.99 per month for families.
• August 18 – October 21, new members get their first month FREE.
• There’s a direct relationship between exercise and feel-good hormones.
• You only have one body.
• No more guilt.

Make the smart choice to enjoy affordable, unlimited fitness at GreatLIFE today!

Healthy body. Healthy brain. Happy you.

GreatLIFE: It’s a Family Thing

Just short of a year ago, Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities were introduced to GreatLIFE, a fusion of family golf, fitness and recreation offering an unprecedented value and an opportunity to get together, have fun and get fit – all at a family-friendly price. Convenient and affordable, the GreatLIFE was just a membership away.

Since that time, the clubs and courses that comprise GreatLIFE have undergone amazing changes to bring them into the 21st century, and become spaces where members spend their personal time doing what they love.

Perhaps the most remarkable GreatLIFE renovation occurred at Woodlake Athletic Club – and we’re celebrating with a Great Grand Opening! Enriching the lives of families is the core of the GreatLIFE mission. During this exciting event, we will celebrate families with fun, food and friends AND we’re giving away Jason Aldean tickets.

Best of all, everyone is welcome.

10 – 1
Open to the Public

  • Drawing for 2 Jason Aldean tickets
  • Free burgers hot off the BK WHOPPER® Wagon (11 – 1)
  • Test your skills for fun prizes
  • Prize drawings every half hour
  • Bounce house
  • Obstacle course
  • Dunk tank
  • Face painting

Bring your friends and check out our newly renovated, state-of-the-art fitness facility and enter to win two tickets to see JASON ALDEAN at the Denny Sanford Premier Center on October 3 and a chance to win more than $5000 in prizes for the whole family.

You gotta be there to believe it. GreatLIFE – it’s a family thing.

Come See What You’ve Been Missing

You have to admit, you’re a little curious about this GreatLIFE thing. You’ve seen the billboards, heard the radio commercials, and even listened to your friends talking about the benefits of playing golf as often as they like at some of the greatest courses in the area.

This Saturday, you can give in and indulge your curiosity. Join Bakker Crossing to check out what you’ve been missing.

Bakker Crossing Open House
Saturday, July 12
5-8 p.m.

You can see for yourself that GreatLIFE is much more than great golf – although we think that’s pretty special. GreatLIFE is about healthy lifestyles, including exercise classes, personal training, weight loss and playing together with friends and family.

We’ll be serving food and refreshments, answering questions, giving amazing facility – we’re pretty proud of it – and having a little fun.

Door Prizes

  • Putting Contest
  • Closest to the Pin Contest (on the golf simulator) 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Longest Drive Contest (on the golf simulator) 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Fitness Competitions

If you’re already a member, bring a friend and take advantage of our GreatFRIENDS Referral Program. New and referring members receive a $25 GreatLIFE gift card. In addition, you and the person you sign up get a chance to win a two-year lease on a 2014 Ford Fusion from Sioux Falls Ford. There’s no limit to the number of friends you can refer. Sign up five and get a free GreatLIFE membership for 2015. (Offer ends August 17, 2014.)

Please come. We can’t wait to show you what GreatLIFE is all about.

GreatLIFE Free Clinics

GreatLIFE Family Golf night. Take advantage of FREE Clinics for the entire family!
Every Sunday night starting at 5 pm starting June 29th.

FREE Family Clinics – Bakker Crossing, Willow Run and Central Valley.
Open to all GreatLIFE members and their guests
Free Clinic from 5-6 pm and open golf after 6 pm
$5 per cart if you would like to take a cart.
We will play from 6 pm until 8 pm and have a reception after play with Hot dogs, chips with lemonade/water.
Please call to sign up.

FREE Adult Golf Clinics – Come out and learn how to play golf and have some fun!!!
Open to all GreatLIFE members and their guests
Mondays starting on June 30th at Bakker Crossing
Tuesdays starting on July 1st at Willow Run and Central Valley.
Clinics are from 6-7 pm.
Please Call to sign up

FREE Junior Clinics
Tuesdays at Willow Run GC, Bakker Crossing and Central Valley
Open to all GreatLIFE members and their guests
Clinics run from 8-10 am
Please Call to sign up.

  • Bakker Crossing – 605.368.9700
  • Willow Run – 605.335.5900
  • Central Valley – 605.528.3971