Willow Run History Laid Foundation for Future Success

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 www.joingreatlife.com.




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 www.lloydcompanies.com.

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