GreatLIFE ranks among top 10 management companies, fastest-growing - GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness

GreatLIFE ranks among top 10 management companies, fastest-growing

GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness has been named among the top 10 largest golf management companies in the industry, according to Golf Inc. magazine, and also is the fastest-growing company on the list.

In 2016, GreatLIFE reported managing 34.5 courses. That almost doubled this year, as the company now manages 63 courses.

“GreatLIFE reported the most growth in the past year,” the magazine noted. “It went on an acquisition binge in 2016, adding a dozen 18-hole equivalent courses.”

Golf Inc. went on to report that GreatLIFE’s future growth will come through franchisees.

“It is the first golf management company to get franchise approvals, and it offers a low-cost membership plan for golf and fitness,” the magazine wrote.

GreatLIFE got so large through its network of courses that reaches from Kansas to Missouri, South Dakota and Iowa.

“We’re going to get really big. We’re definitely changing the paradigm of what golf is,” CEO Tom Walsh Sr. said. “From an economics standpoint, it certainly helps because of the relationships and buying power we have.”

GreatLIFE has finalized a franchise agreement for the Salt Lake City market, and “we think between now and the end of the year, we’ll have five to 10 franchisees in the works,” Walsh said. “We’re working with some national golf management companies about possibly partnering. We’ve had a lot of interest.”

GreatLIFE has found success helping manage municipal courses and through affiliate agreements in communities such as Beresford, Brookings, Vermillion, and Yankton. The real and potential financial benefit to cities is becoming obvious, president Donn Hill said.

“We’ve looked at a lot of financials from other municipal golf courses, and we’re able to operate Willow Run less expensively than municipalities in some other places,” Hill said. “We’re able to keep our courses in great shape for less. Part of that is the efficiency of private enterprise. As we grow, I think there’s a golden opportunity to teach this in other places and bring that attitude of friendliness and keeping things clean.”

The positive culture also helps attract employees, Walsh added.

“One of the surprises has been the quality of people we’re able to attract. Millennials, especially ones in exercise science and nutrition, they want more than a paycheck. They want to make a difference and have employment that means something in affecting people’s lives.”

Because GreatLIFE is only a few years old in Sioux Falls, Walsh said members are still realizing all the benefits the larger organization provides.

GreatLIFE members can golf at 18 courses in the Kansas City area and 25 around Topeka and Wichita, Kan.

“There’s several courses that were $10 million or $12 million facilities, country clubs we’ve acquired down there, and essentially they’re open year-round,” Walsh said.

Some of the signature courses include Staley Farms Golf Club in Kansas City, Falcon Ridge Golf Club in the southwest suburbs and the nearby Canyon Farms Golf Club.

The out-of-state benefits combined with local extras such as free movies at West Mall 7, discounts and free days at other family attractions are helping add to the value proposition and grow membership, Walsh said.

“We’re more than a gym. We’re more than a golf course. We’re a lifestyle.”

GreatLIFE has developed several stay-and-play packages for members.

Pricing is based on three-day packages with double-occupancy hotel stays. Tax included. Incidentals not included. Includes all cart and green fees. Provided meals up to a $20 value; alcohol and gratuity not included.

To view the Stay & Play packages, click here.

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