Category : GreatLIFE

Living the GreatLIFE

Living the GreatLIFE

By: Jim Dunlap

April 16th, 2015

To view the full C&RB article by Jim Dunlap, click here.

A new model that combines golf and fitness memberships at extremely affordable rates is proving to be an especially attractive mix of recreational offers.

Golf, and more recently fitness, are continually championed by country clubs as key components of a great life. So it makes sense that clubs flying the banner of GreatLife Golf & Fitness would be a hit. And when the two amenities are paired for one very affordable price, with no initiation fee, the surprising thing is that the business model hasn’t been tried before—at least to the magnitude that GreatLife CEO Rick Farrant and his team have achieved in such a short period of time.

The Kansas-based GreatLife parent company was essentially dabbling in golf as the owner of three modest 18-hole golf courses in 2000, at the very apex of the last major wave of U.S. golf course development. Shortly thereafter, course owners began to feel the pinch of increased competition from newer and more elaborately amenitized properties.

In 2003, Farrant and his partners acquired their first fitness center, and began thinking that if bought, marketed and priced right, the package deal of golf and fitness could be a perfect way to attract cost-conscious families and individuals to both activities. Today, GreatLife’s corporate entity operates 25 locations, after recently taking the first giant step toward franchising its concept by teaming with Sioux Falls, S.D., entrepreneur Tom Walsh and his partner, Mike Malaska, to form GreatLife Malaska Golf & Fitness. That entity now owns five courses and eight fitness centers in the Sioux Falls region, with over 11,000 members and “affiliate” relationships with another 15 golf courses, where GreatLife members can play for as little as $10.

Farrant and Walsh are now shopping their franchising concept to owners and operators in other parts of the country, utilizing the proven track record of the GreatLife business model, along with the franchising expertise that Walsh developed in developing a portfolio of Burger King locations.

In some cases, GreatLife purchases golf clubs that have an existing fitness facility and improves upon both; in other cases, if a nearby off-site fitness center is available for purchase or lease, GreatLife will incorporate use of that facility into a membership.

In every case, GreatLife buys smart, acquiring courses or fitness centers that are either in bankruptcy or have become available at below-market prices. And whether it’s the golf or the fitness operation that’s struggling (or both), GreatLife has discovered that offering what is essentially a two-for-the-price-of-one proposition creates a much more attractive picture.

Healthy Appeal

By any standard, the price for using GreatLife facilities is reasonable. Individual golf/fitness memberships are available for as little as $30 per month ($40 for a family) at the most affordable locations, Farrant says, with the company’s most expensive location charging a monthly fee of $450. There is no initiation fee, and members pay only a cart fee if they use one when they show up, no matter how often they play.

“People ask us all the time what the catch is,” Farrant says. “The only catch, if you want to call it that, is that the monthly membership fee is pro-rated for an annual year, so people don’t just join for the busy golf months and then drop out.”

Both Farrant and Walsh are committed to utilizing the GreatLife model to promote not only healthy and wholesome family activities, but participation in golf. Both the GreatLife and the GreatLife Malaska courses offer free, or extremely low-cost, golf clinics for families, adults or juniors. With time typically cited as the biggest obstacle to playing more golf—or playing at all—GreatLife members can stop in any time and play only a few holes without feeling obligated to “get their money’s worth” by having to make it through nine holes or a full 18, as they are pre-paid for the year.

The company has the track record to back up its faith in the golf-fitness combination. Farrant points out that “six to eight” of the company’s current locations were either closed or in bankruptcy proceedings when GreatLife acquired them; all are open today. On the fitness side, Farrant said that a YWCA fitness center in the Topeka, Kan., area was losing $15,000 a month when GreatLife brought it into the fold. It now operates in the black—and as Farrant notes, that means it can continue its support of other community programs.

As for Walsh and the GreatLife Malaska entity, since aligning with GreatLife the three courses that Walsh’s group owned or managed in 2014 have registered first-year increases of better than 46 percent in rounds, over 28 percent in revenue, and over 24 percent in food-and-beverage sales.

Holding Their Interest

Including golf in the package also helps to lower the traditionally high attrition rate at many fitness centers, the GreatLife executives contend. “The fitness center turnover or attrition rate nationally is around 40 percent a year,” Farrant says, “so you end up having to turn your membership over every year and a half or so. But if you have golf too, people are less likely to give up their memberships.”

Beyond their success to date, Farrant and Walsh hope to spread the GreatLife gospel to other parts of the country through their franchise program. In addition to the growing appeal of the GreatLife brand and helpful operations and marketing advice from the parent company, the nearly unbroken record of GreatLife success may carry the day to help prospective course buyers secure needed loans.

“Nine times out of 10, it comes down to financing when someone is trying to buy a course,” Farrant says. “One of the big things we bring to the franchise situation is our track record. If a buyer can show his lender what he plans to do, and how he plans to do it, and can then show what we’ve done, there’s a lot better chance that he’ll get the financing he needs.”

2015 Symetra Tour Schedule Features Most Events in 27 Years

Schedule features largest total and average purse in 35-year history of Tour; Seven new events added for 2015

Daytona Beach, Fla., February 5, 2015 – The Symetra Tour, the Road to the LPGA, is excited to unveil its 2015 schedule. The top up-and-coming professionals from around the world will compete in 23 events, the most in the last 27 years. The schedule also features a total purse of $2.73 million, the largest in the history of the Tour.

Since 2013, the Tour schedule has grown from 15 events to 23 events and the total purse has jumped from $1.65 million to $2.73 million. A total of 16 new events have been added since 2012.

“I’m pleased to announce a schedule that affords our aspiring LPGA professionals an opportunity to play more times, for more money, on better courses with a better geographic flow,” said Chief Business Officer, Mike Nichols. “This year we took another big step forward in continuing to make the Symetra Tour a first-class proving ground to identify the next generation of LPGA stars.”

The 2015 season begins the week of Feb.16-22 with the Gateway Classic at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona and runs through the Symetra Tour Championship the week of October 12-18.

Players will once again be competing for ten 2016 LPGA Tour cards determined through the Volvik Race for the Card money list. The top ten money earners following the Symetra Tour Championship, the week of October 19-25, will earn LPGA Tour cards.

“The Symetra Tour is experiencing impressive growth, not only with events and purses, but also with the demand among top players wanting to be Tour members,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan. “It’s exciting that players from the US and all over the world, now come to North America to play a full tour schedule, compete against strong fields on great venues, and have the ability to play their way onto the LPGA Tour.”

The 2015 schedule features seven brand new events. Five of the seven events have been announced and two more will be unveiled in the near future. The five announced events are the Tullymore Classic in Canadian Lakes, Michigan, the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Classic in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the GreatLIFE Sioux Falls Challenge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic in Rochester, New York and the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout in El Dorado, Arkansas.

There are 16 returning events including the Decatur Forsyth Classic, which enters its 31st year of play in Decatur, Illinois.

The schedule also includes the redesigned Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial, which will feature a Symetra Tour event played concurrently with a Legends Tour event, pairing young stars with LPGA Hall of Famers like Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley and Beth Daniel. The tournaments will take place in Fort Myers, Florida at Cypress Lake Country Club, the home of Patty Berg.

In an ongoing effort to closer replicate the LPGA Tour experience, there will be five 72-hole events in 2015, an increase from two in 2014. The Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial, Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic, Toyota Danielle Downey Classic, GreatLIFE Sioux Falls Challenge and the Symetra Tour Championship will all be four round events.

The Symetra Tour will once again have a strong presence in the state of Florida. The third event of the year is the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic at Lake Wales Country Club. After a two-week break in the schedule, the Chico’s Patty Berg Memorial starts the week of April 13-19 in Fort Myers followed by the Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay in Sarasota the week of April 20-26.

The state of Michigan has become a home for the Symetra Tour with three events in 2015. The FireKeepers Casino Hotel Championship at Battle Creek Country Club returns for a second year the week of June 1-7. The Island Resort Championship at Sweetgrass Golf Club in Harris returns for a fifth year the week of June 22-28. The newest event in the state is the Tullymore Classic in Canadian Lakes the week of June 29-July 5.

The busiest part of the schedule starts with the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic in Greenwood the week of May 4-10. The Mission Health Wellness Classic at Country Club of Asheville is the following week and then the Symetra Classic in Charlotte rounds out a three-week stretch. After one week off, the Tour heads to the Midwest for five consecutive events. The Symetra Tour will play eight of nine weeks between early May and early June.

There are now five events sponsored by Potawatomi Nation tribes with the addition of the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Classic at Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Milwaukee. In 2015, the Potwatomi Cup will award a minimum incentive based bonus of $50,000 to players that perform best at the five Potawatomi events.

Quick Highlights

  • The last time the Symetra Tour had more events on the schedule was 1988. The 2015 schedule is the first to feature over 20 events since 1989.
  • 16 new tournaments have been added since the end of the 2012 season.
  • Total tournament purses are up 72% over the last two years.
  • There are five four round events, up from two in 2014.
  • The Tour will visit a record 14 different states in 2015.

Media Contact: Bret Lasky, Coordinator, Symetra Tour Media,
Phone: 386-679-1292

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

Begin Summer with a GreatSTART

The summer heat is back and it’s time to turn up the self-motivation in your workouts. Not sure how you can improve your health status? Get help from GreatLIFE with GreatSTART.

As a member of GreatLIFE you’re entitled to a one-time informational health assessment that gives you the lowdown on your current heath status. In addition, you get professional advice from one of our expert personal trainers to set your sites on a healthier body and a healthier lifestyle.

One of the best approaches to strengthening your health and enriching your lifestyle comes from knowing where you currently stand. GreatSTART sessions will provide you with the right information and accurate assessments of your current height, weight, body fat percentage, and body measurements, not as a number, but as a starting block of encouragement to maintain or improve your health.

During the GreatSTART sessions, personal trainers will help you set fitness goals and make a plan to get results. Consultation about your current lifestyle habits and nutritional advice will allow you to see manageable adjustments.

Operating the exercise equipment properly and efficiently is key to getting the results you want. Each GreatSTART session will also provide members an introduction to basic machine workouts.

GreatSTART is FREE for all GreatLIFE members, current or new. We’ll help you meet your fitness goals with GreatSTART! Schedule your appointment today.

End Diet Disappointment with the GreatFIT Challenge

She said: I lost 20 pounds on that diet, but I gained it all back.

He said: I’m just not satisfied with a shake as a meal.

They said: I don’t want to take diet pills forever.

We said: There’s a better way. Join the GreatFIT Challenge.

The best approach to losing weight always begins with lifestyle changes. GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club invites members to discover the new you in just six weeks with the GreatFIT Challenge – May 27 – July 3.

And there’s a prize for everyone that finishes.

DSC_4820rThis is more than a weight-loss program. Trainers Courtney Dickson from EmBe and Barry Owen from GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club have put together a program that combines great tools, essential information and personal training topped off with a weekly challenge that will help you set your goals and stay on track.

And you could win $300.

The program includes 12 weekday workouts plus 6 Saturday workouts at Woodlake some cool tools to help you gauge – and celebrate – your progress.

We provide pre and post assessments with weigh-ins, skin-fold measurement, before and after photos, and a follow up on feelings and food. We’ll help you make dietary changes with education and grocery lists, and help you assess your eating habits and the feelings you have around food with a nutrition log/journal.

Weeks 1 and 2 – Restore Health to Your Gut

DSC_4843rMany researchers now believe that gut health is crucial to overall health, and that an unhealthy gut can lead to a wide range of diseases including depression and diabetes. During the first to weeks of the program, we’ll focus on detoxing the gut and learning which foods and other substances might be making you unwell, and those that will help you restore balance. You’ll be challenged to increase your water intake and reconsider eating greens – lots of ‘em – every day.

Weeks 3 and 4 – Planning is Key

It’s hard to eat healthy on the fly. During weeks three and four, you’ll learn about the effects of gluten and dairy in the diet, and how to plan and prep so healthy foods are always handy. The challenges keep coming and will help you change the way you think about food.

Weeks 5 and 6 – Maintenance Made Easy

It’s the homestretch, and not unlike most diets you’ve tried, this is where it gets harder. The energy you felt at the beginning of this challenge has peaked and you’re losing stamina. During the final weeks, we’ll share secrets for successful maintenance, show you the traps hidden at your grocery stores and pose our final challenges.

Behind You All the Way

Like any weight-loss or training program, it’s important to have a strong support system to keep you hopeful when it’s hard and celebrate your successes as they happen.

Don’t wait. Check out the GreatFIT Challenge Details and sign up now at EmBe Downtown or at GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club.

GreatLIFE Broadens its Range with Mitchell Affiliation


Sioux Falls, South Dakota (May 13, 2014) – GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club is proud to announce its newest affiliate, Wild Oak Golf Course in Mitchell, South Dakota.

A picturesque setting and a challenging course set the stage for a relaxing afternoon and an exhilarating game of golf. This 18-hole, par 72 course is located near the James River and Firesteel Creek on the east side of Mitchell, South Dakota and provides 6,902 yards of challenging play from the longest tees. Amenities include a driving range, putting green, full-service pro shop, restaurant/bar and a swimming pool.

This new affiliation with Wild Oak Golf Course offers GreatLIFE members a nearby golf alternative outside of the Sioux Falls area.

According to President Thomas P. Walsh, Sr., “We want to provide affordable choices for golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles so it’s more convenient for people to live healthier lives. Our affiliation with Wild Oak allows us to give our members one more option, and may encourage residents of Mitchell to join GreatLIFE and take advantage of the Sioux Falls locations when they come to the city. Everybody wins.”

wildoakGreatLIFE 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 Center. GreatLIFE affiliates include Hidden Valley, Hiawatha, River Ridge, Luverne Country Club, 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 and Orthopedic Institute.

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. With unlimited access for members, the company is committed to offering the best in value, convenience and hospitality throughout the region. Learn more at

GreatLIFE Expands Scope with New Partners in Health


Sioux Falls, South Dakota (April 30, 2014) – GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club is proud to announce its new partners in health, Orthopedic Institute (OI) and Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital (SFSH). These new partnerships take the revolutionary venture that began as GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness to a new level, integrating convenient access to healthcare services into the mix of benefits available to GreatLIFE members.

Orthopedic Institute“Creating partnerships with healthcare providers is completely in alignment with our mission to enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles,” said President Tom Walsh, Sr. “Orthopedic Institute and Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital are premier healthcare providers committed to providing exceptional care and educating people about how to live better, healthier lives. We are thrilled to have them as our partners.”

According to GreatLIFE leadership, Orthopedic Institute and Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital will soon offer services in select GreatLIFE locations.

As a GreatLIFE health partner, OI will open a clinic in the GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club addition scheduled for completion in January of 2015. Members will have convenient access to sports medicine, therapy and education.

Sioux Falls Specialty HospitalSioux Falls Specialty Hospital will also provide clinic services in the new addition at Woodlake and will provide healthcare services, seasonal clinics and educational seminars for members and guests.

With the addition of these new health partners, GreatLIFE will be able to expand their vision through their support of health programs that make health care convenient and accessible, and encourage members to integrate regular preventative care and health maintenance into their lives.

Members get unlimited access to GreatLIFE golf courses, fitness facilities and amenities for one great price. Partners include Bakker Crossing, Willow Run, Central Valley, Hidden Valley, Hiawatha, River Ridge, Luverne Country Club, The Bridges at Beresford, Emerald Hills and Okoboji View golf courses, GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club, EmBe and McCook Wellness. Affiliate partners Rocky Run, Ideal Weigh, Austad’s and Golf Addiction provide special offers to GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club members.

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. With unlimited access for members, the company is committed to offering the best in value, convenience and hospitality throughout the region. Learn more at

GreatLIFE Names Two Okoboji Golf Courses as New Partners


Sioux Falls, South Dakota (April 4, 2014) – GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club is proud to announce its newest partners, Emerald Hills Golf Club and Okoboji View Golf Courses.

bojiKnown as the “land of lakes and family fun,” the resort community of Okoboji attracts visitors from across the entire region to enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities – and play golf. With Emerald Hills and Okoboji View as partners, GreatLIFE is now able to offer its members unlimited golf while they get away from it all at this popular vacation destination.

One of Iowa’s premier golf courses, Emerald Hills Golf Club is a perfect blend of scenic beauty, relaxation and challenging play. Its 18-hole championship par 72 course offers golfers at all skill levels an amazing golf experience. The club also features complete practice facilities, a fully stocked pro shop, a snack bar and a cocktail lounge.

Okoboji View Golf Course opened in 1962, but since 2005, new owners have transformed the 18-hole course into golf oasis. With a beautiful, tree-lined course, full-service lounge and grill, and well-manicured practice greens.

According to President Thomas P. Walsh, Sr., “These new GreatLIFE courses are a real bonus for our members, expanding the benefit of unlimited golf to one of the area’s most popular vacation getaways. If they loved Okoboji before, they’re going to love it even more now.”

GreatLIFE members get unlimited access (based on membership level) to multiple golf courses and fitness facilities, and all the amenities that go along with them, for one great price. Other GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club partners include Bakker Crossing, Willow Run, Central Valley, Hidden Valley, Hiawatha, River Ridge, Luverne Country Club and The Bridges at Beresford golf courses, GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club, EmBe and McCook Wellness. Affiliate partners Rocky Run, Ideal Weigh, Austad’s and Golf Addiction provide special offers to GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club members.

emaraldGreatLIFE 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. With unlimited access for members, the company is committed to offering the best in value, convenience and hospitality throughout the region. Learn more at