Note: This is an excerpt from the September 2016 issue of Tee Times Golf Guide editorial by Bill Cromwell. Check out news, videos, and lots more at www.TeeTimesMagazine.com.
One thing I’ve learned after publishing this magazine for the past 16 years is that the golf scene surrounding the Kansas City Metro Area is ever changing. Whether it’s a course closing, new management company, new ownership or employees, just wait a minute and change will happen. But, that can be a good thing, as complacency or stagnant waters can be the demise of greener fairways. Change in the golf arena is more often a good thing for golfers, often leading to better course conditions and, what all golfers like best, lower green fees and membership rates.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, GreatLife Golf & Fitness of Topeka, KS, has been very, very busy purchasing legions of golf courses throughout the area over the last 24 months.
As of 2016, the principal partners of GLGF include Rick Farrant, Doug Albers, Sam Vanlandingham, Butch Eaton and Jim Klausman.
Currently, GreatLife owns and operates 14 golf clubs within the GreatLife Golf KC market and over 50 clubs nationally, making it one of the nation’s top 20 golf management companies. “We have a proven formula combining golf and fitness along with other club amenities that provides a strong model for growth,” said Great Life Golf & Fitness founder Rick Farrant.
When asked, “What do you want golfers to experience when playing a GreatLife course?” Co-owner Doug Albers said, “We want to give members the feeling of belonging to their own primary golf club where they also have the ability to have an extended family of several other courses to play. Frequently, a private or public club member wants to play golf on a given day but learns their club has a tournament and is closed to open golf. With a GLKC membership, golfers will have access to any of our family of courses to play. Plus, this gives them different courses to play at any time they choose, rather than being locked into one course day after day.”
Albers says this concept works equally well for the state-of-the-art fitness facilities GLKC offers. “Let’s say, a member works in Independence, but lives in Overland Park. That member can work out at Drumm Farm in Independence during the day and then play golf at Deer Creek that evening after work. So, while you belong to the one golf club where you joined — you actually belong to 14. So, your regular playing group of friends can travel to different courses and new challenges.”
For golfers considering a private club membership, but find themselves questioning whether or not they want the same scenery and challenges day-in and day-out then GLKC has the answer — join one course and have reciprocal playing privileges to as many as 64 (at last count) golf courses nationally sprinkled throughout the Midwest. Not a bad deal!
With the most recent June and July acquisitions of Osage National Golf Club at the Lake of the Ozarks and Tall Grass Golf Club in Wichita, KS, members have the ability to make day trips or weekend golf outings with reciprocal playing privileges. With Osage National, members can take advantage of the on-property condos owned by GLKC, and take advantage of the Stay-and-Play packages offered for individual or group Lake golf trips.
“We want our members to feel like we’re glad they’re here,” said Farrant. “We want members to feel like their primary club is their own club and provide a friendly atmosphere. Evidence that this is working is at Staley Farms where we recently filled the membership. Canyon Farms, which went Private in April, only has less than 80 memberships left. When we get in there and do what we do — it’s exciting for the members and us.
“A big part of the business for us is fitness. Many of our fitness members are not golfers, but once they get in the gym and look out over the golf course just outside the window, they often start exploring the idea of taking up the game. In fact, I could tell you story after story of the fitness members I’ve seen who end up spending more time golfing than in the fitness gym.”
It’s evident that GreatLife Golf KC is committed to being on the cutting-edge with its recent offering of the new Golf Skate Caddy (GSC) at six of its KC area golf courses. A single stand-up golf transport board for the golf course that gives golfers the experience of surfing, and it’s a great workout for the core muscles. Renting for $25, about $5 more than a typical cart fee, the GSC will truly add a new element of fun to your round.
“We’re trying to appeal to a broad base — the entire family,” said Albers. “If you’re going to be playing golf anyway, wouldn’t you rather have the option to hop on a Golf Skate Caddy sailing around the course having fun? Especially for the younger golfers — they just add a lot of fun to your round, and in many cases, will speed up play.”
I can tell you firsthand, the Golf Skate Caddy is fun. We all like the idea of the traditional two-person golf cart and the social interaction it provides. But, sometimes a single rider type cart or the new GSC can also help you better concentrate on your game, and you tend to play better when you’re not distracted by chasing down your riding partner’s errant golf shots or listening to endless complaints about their last bad shot. It’s a proven fact that single rider transportation will speed-up the pace of play — that is always a good thing.
“Throughout the history of GreatLife, our leadership team has been committed to making a difference in the lives of children and families,” said Farrant. “Our charitable organization, the GreatLife Cares Foundation, is focused on enriching the lives of families through fitness, healthy lifestyles and golf.
“With fitness and gym memberships, there’s always a high turnover. If we can attract people to fitness, then introduce them to golf, and get them golfing often— then we have a member for life. A GreatLife?”