Category : News

GreatLIFE Announces New Players Club

GreatLIFE announces its first ever Players Club, designed to give you the exclusive perks of membership. Join the GreatLIFE Players Club and receive:

  • Players Club backpack
  • Players Club players towel, head cover and name tag
  • 3 FREE green fee certificates
  • 10 days advance tee times
  • Advanced registration for GreatLIFE events
  • Free driving at Rocky Run anytime
  • 5 tokens for driving range
  • GHIN handicap fee
  • Free push carts at all facilities
  • 50% off hourly golf simulator rates
  • Customized key FOB

The Players Club is a great way to reward our loyal members with special privileges at a reasonable price. The annual fee is just $225 a year. So don’t wait to join our new Players Club, as membership is limited to the first 250 people.

The first 50 players to sign up will get a copy of Mike Malaska’s book “I Feel Your Pain.”

Call or stop out to any one of the following golf courses to become a Players Club member:

GreatLIFE announces leadership changes

Original content published by Sioux Falls Business Journal with Jodi Schwan.

GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness has named Nick Ovenden as its new president, along with a new leadership team.

Ovenden replaces Donn Hill, who has been president since GreatLIFE was founded more than five years ago. Hill has taken a new position as pastor of missions and operations at First Evangelical Free Church. His last day at GreatLIFE is April 30.

He will continue to have ownership in Bakker Crossing Golf Course, which is part of GreatLIFE.

“Everything I’ve experienced has led me to this point, and it’s the right thing at the right time that allows me to work with the church I’ve been part of all my life and use my passion for mission in places like South Sudan. I’ll still be a supporter of GreatLIFE because I believe in the mission and I believe we’re making a positive difference in people’s lives,” Hill said.

“The element that’s much different from even what we conceived was how huge the fitness role could become in this and how much the company could actually impact people’s lives through fitness and healthy lifestyles.”

GreatLIFE was founded by Tom Walsh Sr., who remains CEO.

“As with all things, there’s change, and I want to thank Donn for five great years,” Walsh said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish has changed the world. We’ve become a lifestyle.”

Ovenden is well positioned to take over the leadership role, Walsh and Hill said.

A Sioux Falls native and Augustana University graduate, he worked at the Sanford POWER program before becoming a trainer and assistant department head at Life Time Fitness in the Twin Cities. He joined GreatLIFE as director of fitness and nutrition in early 2014.

“I love everything we stand for,” Ovenden said. “I understand what Donn’s vision and leadership style has been, and I think I’ll be able to utilize a lot of the knowledge I’ve gotten from him and be able to take the company on for 20 or 30 years, hopefully. We’ve talked about changing the world, and that’s truly what we want to do.”

Ovenden will lead a newly named leadership team:

Brad Hansen is vice president of development. He joined GreatLIFE as director of food and beverage last year and has more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including as an operating partner at Burger King.

“Brad has a great financial grasp of the things we need to do, and he can help us take a step back and see what makes sense,” Ovenden said. “His food and beverage background really helps our golf and fitness centers take their offerings to the next level.”

Randall Hill is vice president of fitness, after previously managing the GreatLIFE Performance Center at 69th Street and Southeastern Avenue.

“Randall is an incredible leader,” Ovenden said. “He just turned 30, and he leads like he’s been doing it for 20 years. He’s a very visionary thinker, and he’s got people who follow him who put his vision into action, and that’s why he’s been so effective.”

Jason Sudenga is vice president of golf. He has led golf at GreatLIFE since its inception after doing the same at Bakker Crossing.

“Jason is the best business mind in golf,” Ovenden said. “He’s a golf mind but open to change and is not a traditionalist. He’s open to ideas and knows we don’t have a typical golf base.”

With about 40,000 members and more than 500 team members, GreatLIFE has fundamentally changed the golf and fitness market locally in the past five years. Ovenden predicts significant growth ahead, though.

“Our ultimate goal is to change the world, so we need to figure out how to manage our growth and be great at what we do, so when we grow into different cities, we’re providing the best possible member experience,” he said. “As long as we’re doing that, I think our potential is limitless. There are a lot of places with golf courses and fitness centers, but what sets us apart is our culture – our attention to detail and how much we care about our members.”

Ovenden is passionate about building GreatLIFE and brings the work ethic needed to do it, Hill added.

“We have a lot of people committed to doing whatever it takes to get it done, and Nick’s been that way from the start, along with many others,” he said. “He’s the right guy to carry it on.”

Ovenden agrees the job is more than a job.

“It’s so much more than a paycheck,” he said. “I know that’s cliche, but when you find your passion and understand your calling in life and you can apply that to work, it doesn’t seem like work.”

Golf season brings new rules of the game. Here’s what you need to know

Original content published by Sioux Falls Business Journal with Jodi Schwan. Sponsored by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.

While golfers begin to immerse themselves in all the routines involved in getting their games in shape after a particularly long and cold winter, they’ll have additional adjustments to make this spring.

The Rules of Golf have changed. While none of these changes would singularly qualify as earthshaking, collectively reducing the sport’s 34 core rules to 24 definitely will be worthy of study and commitment to memory for those who desire to play the game the right way.

The most obvious change, one that fans have witnessed on television since the PGA, Champions and LPGA Tours began play in January, is that golfers now have the option of leaving the flagstick in for all shots, including putts.

Other rule changes may not be as obvious but could be just as important depending on the situation. Collectively, it’s an attempt by golf’s governing bodies to simplify with a nod to making the game and its rules a little more accessible to the casual player.

“The whole point is to make golf more playable,” said Jason Sudenga, GreatLIFE director of golf. “I think they’ve done that, especially with the flagstick. There’s not so many rules with the flagstick or with golf balls on the putting green.”

Here’s a summary of some of the major changes, some of which will affect amateur casual golfers.


In the old days, once a ball was on the green, the flagstick had to be removed for the next shot. Not anymore. Now, it’s entirely up the preference of the golfer whether it’s out or in.

“Some people say it’s an advantage to keep the pin in, and some say it’s not,” Sudenga said. “I guess it depends on the situation that you’re in. It could hurt you, and it could help you. I’ve seen examples of both already this year.”

An obvious motive for this rule change involves speeding up play.

“You don’t have to take the time to pull the flag out and put it back in,” Sudenga said. “You can hit it in, pick up your ball and then move on to the next hole.”

Repairing greens

On TV, the next most noticeable rule change involves caddies not being able to stand behind their golfers during putts. On a local level, however, the fact that golfers now will be able to repair everything in their path from ball to hole will be much more applicable. In the past, it was OK to repair ball marks that might alter the shot, but for reasons that seemed mystifying to many golfers, they could not repair spike marks. Now, it’s OK to repair with impunity, regardless of origination.

“On a day-to-day basis for the average golfer, it could really come into play,” Sudenga said. “We’ve seen with the elimination of metal spikes a drastic reduction in spike marks on the green from what it used to be. Now, they’re saying, ‘Hey, if you see one you can tap it down.’ ”

Accidental movement of the golf ball

In the past, if a golf ball on the green was accidentally bumped while being marked, it was cause for a penalty. Now, accidents like this will be tolerated as long as the ball is put back in its original spot. Furthermore, if a ball moved after it was placed after being marked, players had to play the ball from wherever it ended up. Now, they can move the ball back to its original spot without penalty. “The new rules are definitely a little friendlier on the greens,” Sudenga said. “If the wind moves your ball, you pick it up and put it back and away you go. That’s a nice one for golfers.”

No more two-chip penalties

It’s possible to hit a ball twice on the same shot. Famously, it was an act committed by T.C. Chen in the 1985 U.S. Open and played a role in costing him the tournament. It usually happens during chip shots with the club deaccelerating as it moves through shot. It was a one-stroke penalty, and now golfers can just play the ball where it lands without an additional stroke added to the score.

No such thing as a water hazard

Water hazards have been renamed “penalty areas” in the golf rule book with no distinguishing one from the other. Golfers are free to move loose impediments and ground the club without fear of penalty. Players can not try to improve their chances of hitting out of a penalty area by using a club to clear a path, however.

“There were a lot of golf courses out there that were marking areas of the course as water hazards when they were not water hazards,” Sudenga said. “I like this rule. It’s going to save some time because you’re going to be able to make a drop instead of going back to the tee box to hit again.”

While there are several other rule changes, most of them will not affect a normal non-tournament round. For a complete list, with explanations and clarifications, players can visit the USGA website.

Here’s a look at all the major changes courtesy of GreatLIFE:

  1.  SEARCH TIME – Reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes
  2.  BALL MOVED DURING SEARCH – Replace with NO penalty
  3.  EMBEDDED BALL – Free relief anywhere through the course
  4.  MEASURING A DROP – Use longest club (except putter)
  5.  DROPPING – Drop from knee height rather than shoulder
  8.  DOUBLE HIT – NO penalty, now only counts as 1 stroke
  11.  DROPPING A BALL OUT OF BUNKER – 2 penalty strokes
  12.  WATER HAZARDS – now called “penalty areas”
  14.  BALL MOVES ON GREEN AFTER BEING MARKED – replace without penalty

Willow Run Golf Course & Fitness Center Closed This Week For The Symetra Tour GreatLIFE Challenge

The Willow Run Golf Course and Fitness Center will be closed this week, August 27th – September 2nd, for the Symetra Tour GreatLIFE Challenge. The GreatLIFE Challenge brings an EXCITING group of golfers to Sioux Falls to compete for a chance to join the LPGA.  These golfers represent over 31 different countries, and 26 different states from the USA!

  • 4-Day Passes are available for purchase at our Willow Run Golf Course and Woodlake GreatLIFE Facility! The cost for a 4-Day Pass is $15 for GreatLIFE members or $30 for Non-GreatLIFE Members! If you would like to purchase single day passes, you may pay the admission fee ($5) at Willow Run the day you attend!
  •  All First Responders and Active, Reserve, Veteran, and Retired U.S. Military personnel, will receive FREE entry each day Thursday-Sunday! ID must be shown at the admission table to receive daily ticket.
  • Bring the kids out to Willow Run on Monday for a FREE Kids Clinic from 6pm – 8pm.
Listed below is a schedule or events.

2018 Event Schedule

Monday, Aug. 27

8:00 am – GreatLIFE Challenge Pro AM – Willow Run
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm 
– Symetra Tour practice rounds – Willow Run
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Free Kids Clinic – Willow Run Driving Range,
                                           Putting Green, and Short Game Area

Tuesday, Aug. 28

7:00 am – 5:00 pm – Symetra Tour Practice Rounds
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm 
– Welcome GreatLIFE Corporate Sponsor Pro Am  
                                         (Private Reception)
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Cocktails
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Dinner and Entertainment

Wednesday, Aug. 29

8:00 am – GreatLIFE Corporate Sponsor Symetra Pro Am
1:30 pm – GreatLIFE Corporate Sponsor Symetra Pro Am

Thursday, Aug. 30 – Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge Begins

7:30 am Round 1 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee)
12:20 pm Round 1 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee)

Friday, Aug. 31 – Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge

7:30 am – Round 2 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee) 
12:20 pm 
– Round 2 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee)

Saturday, Sept. 1 – Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge

7:30 am – Round 3 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee)

Sunday, Sept. 2 – Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge Final Round

7:30 am – Round 4 (Wave start – 1st and 10th tee)
2:00 pm – AWARDS – Luxury Auto trophy presentation
We look forward to another GREAT year, and can’t wait to see you all out there!

Now Taking Sign-Ups for the 2018 Willow Run Men’s Open!

Now Taking Sign-Ups for the 2018 Willow Run Men’s Open!

We are now accepting sign-ups for the 2018 Willow Run men’s open.

Event Info:

Sunday, June 10th (Tee times from 7am – 11am)
18-Hole Stroke Play

Call the pro shop at 335-5900 to make your tee-time.

Flighted by handicap (must have USGA handicap to play)

Championship Flight  –  0-2.0
First Flight  –  2.1-6.2
Second Flight  –  6.3-11.2
Third Flight  –  11.3-16.3
Fourth Flight (low net)  –  16.4-Higher

Entry Fee:

Championship Flight – $60 (GreatLIFE Member) $80 (Non GreatLIFE Member)
All Other Flights- $40 (GreatLIFE Member) $60 (Non GreatLIFE Member)

Includes: Green Fees and Prizes (Championship Flight) Est. payouts (based on 25 players)
1st- $400
2nd- $300
3rd- $200
4th- $100
5th- $50

Call the pro shop at 335-5900 to make your tee-time.

It’s Finally Time for Golf!

It’s Finally Time for Golf!

GreatLIFE is happy to announce the opening of Willow Run, Bakker Crossing, Central Valley and Rocky Run are open for play. It’s been a long time coming, but the links are finally ready for you. Additional courses are opening soon, so check out our full lineup at

Join today as a new member and get 13 months for the price of 12 and half price on the enrollment fee.

*Offer good for new memberships only. Please bring voided check at time of sign up. Not valid with any other offers, some restrictions apply. Excludes Mitchell, SD, location

Willow Run Golf Course is Opening!

Willow Run Golf Course is Opening for One Day!

Willow Run will be open for WALKING ONLY on Friday, March 30th, 2018

  • Driving Range will remain closed
  • Limited Food & Beverage services available
  • The Willows will open at 4 pm for happy hour and dinner

Pro Shop Hours:
10:00 am – Dark

Call the pro shop today to book a tee time:

*  This is for one day only. The golf course will close starting Saturday, March 31st. An email will be sent notifying when we open for the season.

Willow Run Water Shut-Off


Due to construction, across the road, Willow Run will have the water shut-off from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm tomorrow (10/25/17).

This means we will NOT have restrooms, showers and sinks running. We will have the portable restrooms by the driving range available.

The Willows Restaurant will NOT be open for lunch service.

If you have any questions please call Willow Run at 605-335-5900.

Thank you!
Willow Run Staff