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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.

Flagstick

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
  6.  TAKING STANCE ON WRONG GREEN IS NOT PERMITTED
  7.  BALL UNINTENTIONALLY HITS PLAYER OR EQUIPMENT – NO penalty
  8.  DOUBLE HIT – NO penalty, now only counts as 1 stroke
  9.  TOUCHING SAND IN BUNKER ACCIDENTALLY IS PERMITTED
  10.  LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS CAN BE REMOVED ANYWHERE INCLUDING HAZARDS
  11.  DROPPING A BALL OUT OF BUNKER – 2 penalty strokes
  12.  WATER HAZARDS – now called “penalty areas”
  13.  TOUCHING GROUND IN PENALTY AREA – NO penalty
  14.  BALL MOVES ON GREEN AFTER BEING MARKED – replace without penalty
  15.  BALL ACCIDENTALLY MOVED ON PUTTING GREEN – replace NO penalty
  16.  ALL DAMAGE TO GREEN CAN BE REPAIRED
  17.  POSITIONING A CLUB FOR ALIGNMENT IS NOT PERMITTED
  18.  CADDIE ASSISTING WITH ALIGNMENT IS NOW NOT PERMITTED
  19.  PUTTING WITH FLAGSTICK IN HOLE IS NOW PERMITTED
  20.  BALL WEDGED AGAINST FLAG STICK AND SIDE OF HOLE IS DEEMED AS HOLED

Come Celebrate GreatLIFE Anniversary Parties

GreatLIFE just turned five this year. For five years, GreatLIFE has helped families live and play, better. To celebrate, we’re throwing some anniversary parties.

GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club and GreatLIFE Performance & Fitness Center

Tuesday, December 11 – All Day

  • Prizes and games
  • Food and refreshments

All other GreatLIFE locations

Tuesday, December 11 – 4-8pm

  • Food and refreshments

In the past five years, we’ve grown from four golf courses to 24. We started with two fitness locations and now have 16. Our history has already been a very busy one and we have you to thank for the future of our building.

Please join us to celebrate five years of living, playing, better.

 

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 joingreatlife.com.

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

2018 Central Valley Ladies’ League

Schedule of Events

APRIL 24, 2018
Ladies Meeting @ 7:00
*The Central Valley Ladies Golf Association would like to invite all ladies that are considering playing in league or have questions concerning league to join us at 7:00pm, Tuesday, April 24th! Come have some drinks and see what Central Valley has to offer!

MAY 15, 2018
Ladies League Fun Night
Shotgun Start @ 6:00 pm

MAY 22, 2018
First Night of League

JUNE 23, 2018
Ladies Invitational

AUGUST 21, 2018
League Ends

AUGUST 28, 2018
White Elephant Event

2018 Ladies’ League Sign-up Form

Central Valley Ladies’ Day
Tuesday Nights

Central Valley Ladies League is a 9-hole league on Tuesday nights. Ladies League consists of 2-woman teams competing for 3 points each night in a round robin format. All ladies league participants will need an established USGA handicap before league begins. Please fill out the ladies league form found on the Central Valley website and return it at your earliest convenience.

Dues

Yearly dues:

  • $30.00 per woman
  • $35 handicap fee

Dues include:

  • Ringer
  • Eligibility to compete in the Ladies’ Club Championship
  • League Fees

2018 Ladies’ League Sign-up Form

Exclusive Travel Packages for GreatLIFE Members

Great Stay. Great Play.

Make the most of your GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Plus membership by taking advantage of the GreatLIFE Journey. Premier GreatLIFE locations like Osage National, Tallgrass, and Premier Kansas City locations await your arrival.

3-day stay and play packages start at around $259* for GreatLIFE members. Or you can choose to say a little longer and experience a 5-day package. With all the planning done for you, these packages make it easy to enjoy the many beautiful courses in the GreatLIFE family – and have a relaxing place to stay, recharge, and get ready for the next day.

For suggested GreatLIFE Journey Packages click here to see full details and booking information.

*Pricing based on 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.

Course Aerification Closure Dates

It’s that time of year!

With every fall comes the aerification of the greens on the golf courses. It is hard to see our perfectly mowed greens put through this process. Aerification is merely a short-term disruption that has long-term benefits for golf coursesWhen you see them, remember that without those little holes, the greens would eventually die.

Preventative maintenance is an integral part of successful golf course management. Golfers view aerification as an inconvenience that takes the greens out of play for a day, pulling cores from the greens and leaving holes that can affect putting for many days before healing.

But a golfer needs to understand how important aerification is to producing healthy turf. Aerification (also known as aeration) achieves three important objectives. It relieves soil compaction, it provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of a green’s roots and it reduces or prevents the accumulation of excess thatch.

Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order for grass to grow at 3/16-inch, it must have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles.

Over time, the traffic from golfers’ feet (as well as mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green – particularly when the soil contains a lot of clay. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants become weaker and will eventually wither and die.

Next, we will start the aerification process at our courses. Below is the schedule.

*Note- All of the golf courses will be closed while the greens are being aerified.

  • Bakker Crossing – Monday, September 11th
  • Rocky Run – Wednesday, September 13th
  • Central Valley – Monday, September 18th
  • Willow Run – Wednesday and Thursday, October 4th and 5th
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we complete the aerification process.
Have a great day!

MATCH-PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP DAKOTAS TOUR PRO-AM

64 PLAYER FIELD (max field)

September 2nd – 4th at Central Valley

Entry Fee: $40 (includes meal after play on Saturday and prizes)*

*Carts are additional

TEE-TIMES

September 2nd: Round 1 at 8:00am
September 2nd: Round 2 at 1:00pm
September 3rd: Round 3 at 8:00am
September 3rd: Round 4 at 1:00pm
September 4th: Round 5 at 8:00am
September 4th: Round 6 at 1:00pm

Open to all GreatLIFE Members

All players must have an active GHIN handicap
This will be a net event. The first 64 players to sign-up will be in the field
Matches will be played alongside Dakotas Tour Professionals

Please contact Central Valley (605) 528-6122 to sign up*.
*Deadline is August 30th

GREATLIFE COUNTDOWN TO GARTH – NEW MEMBERS REGISTER TO WIN TICKETS

GreatLIFE is counting down to Garth Brooks’ return to Sioux Falls with a weekly ticket giveaway.*

Enroll a new 12-month membership with GreatLIFE – either Fitness PLUS or Golf and Fitness PLUS — and you will be entered into a weekly drawing to see Garth Brooks live.

Entries will begin August 14th and a drawing will take place every Thursday for four weeks beginning August 24th. Get a great fitness membership to kick start a healthy lifestyle and a chance at seeing some great music. Either way, you win at GreatLIFE.

*Offer good for new memberships only. Not valid with any other offers, some restrictions apply. New members must provide voided check or bank account information at sign-up. Excludes Mitchell, SD.