Great Life Golf and Fitness Expands to South Dakota, Looks to National Franchising


Great Life Golf and Fitness, Topeka, KS, has struck a partnership deal with a golf course owner in Sioux Falls, SD, that will launch the national growth of a franchised model for the company, according to Rick Farrant, co-owner of Great Life.

The partner, Tom Walsh Sr., announced the deal on Dec. 11 in Sioux Falls where he will rebrand a fitness center and four golf courses as Great Life Malaska Golf and Fitness. A possible fifth golf course could be added to the deal, according to Farrant.

"We were working on a franchise deal, and I had been searching for a growth partner," Farrant says. "Tom and I seem to have a shared vision of what Great Life could be, and Sioux Falls was a great place for us to launch."

Farrant is looking at Sioux Falls as a test market.

"When that goes well, we will expand," he says.

Walsh, who also owns several Burger King franchises, will convert banquet rooms in the golf course club houses into fitness centers and will add steam rooms and swimming pools at some of the facilities, according to a press release from Walsh announcing the deal.

In addition to adding the fitness centers, Great Life will offer professional training and coaching for various sports at several of the facilities. Mike Malaska, 2011 PGA Teacher of the Year and worldwide director of instruction for Jack Nicklaus Golf Academies, will partner with Great Life Malaska Golf and Fitness Clubs in the endeavor.

"Just as we have done with our Burger King restaurants as the best franchising in North America, our goal with Great Life Malaska Golf and Fitness Clubs is to be 'simply the best' with facilities, programs and people—making a difference in people’s lives, especially children and families," Walsh said in a statement.

The deal involves Bakker's Crossing, Central Valley, Rocky Run and Willow Run golf courses and EmBe and Sioux Empire Fitness. The deal also involves partnerships with Golf Addiction, which offers discounts on golf simulators, golf leagues and golf instruction, and Austad’s Gold, which will operate the pro shops in all the facilities.

More partnerships are in the works, and Walsh said he expects to expand membership benefits by adding more courses and clubs.

Unlike the pricing at the Great Life locations in Kansas and Missouri in which members pay one price for both golf and fitness, the Great Life Malaska locations will offer a variety of membership prices, depending on if members want just fitness and limited golf or fitness and unlimited golf as well as whether members purchase a single, couple or family membership. Prices will start at $30 for fitness and limited golf for single memberships and go up to $200 per month for fitness and unlimited golf (plus unlimited cart and range) for both couples and families.

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