Category : News

GreatLIFE Announces New Players Club

GreatLIFE announces its first ever Players Club, designed to give you the exclusive perks of membership. Join the GreatLIFE Players Club and receive:

  • Players Club backpack
  • Players Club players towel, head cover and name tag
  • 3 FREE green fee certificates
  • 10 days advance tee times
  • Advanced registration for GreatLIFE events
  • Free driving at Rocky Run anytime
  • 5 tokens for driving range
  • GHIN handicap fee
  • Free push carts at all facilities
  • 50% off hourly golf simulator rates
  • Customized key FOB

The Players Club is a great way to reward our loyal members with special privileges at a reasonable price. The annual fee is just $225 a year. So don’t wait to join our new Players Club, as membership is limited to the first 250 people.

The first 50 players to sign up will get a copy of Mike Malaska’s book “I Feel Your Pain.”

Call or stop out to any one of the following golf courses to become a Players Club member:

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.


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
  8.  DOUBLE HIT – NO penalty, now only counts as 1 stroke
  11.  DROPPING A BALL OUT OF BUNKER – 2 penalty strokes
  12.  WATER HAZARDS – now called “penalty areas”
  14.  BALL MOVES ON GREEN AFTER BEING MARKED – replace without penalty

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.


Road Construction Near Bakker Crossing

Attention GreatLIFE Members! Louise Ave & 271st Street will be CLOSED for the remainder of the year due to construction.  This will restrict access to our Bakker Crossing Golf Course from the North. Attached is a map and directions for some alternate routes you can take to get to Bakker Crossing from the South.
A Couple Alternate Routes:

From the Interstate:
– Take I-29 South and take Exit 71
– Turn Left (East) onto 273rd Street
– Follow 273rd Street to 472nd Ave, then turn left (North)
– Bakker Crossing will be on your left in about 1.5 Miles

Using Western Avenue
– Drive South on Western Avenue to 273rd Avenue
– Turn right (West) on 273rd Street
– Follow 273rd Street to 472nd Ave, then turn left (North)
– Bakker Crossing will be on your left in about 1.5 Miles

Bakker Crossing Takes First Steps Toward Bringing Course Back to Roots

If it looks like yellow where green ought to be at Bakker Crossing Golf Course all of a sudden, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s the first step toward bringing the course back to its roots, with fescue replacing other grasses in the rough.

“Many years ago, we had a lot of fescue here, and it highlighted the holes,” general manager Jason Crisp said. “As you get deeper into the rough, this taller, lighter fescue will become more prominent in the course.”

What’s happening?

Crews are applying a chemical solution to the existing plants and will shave the treated areas down to between one-quarter to one-half inch and then plant fescue seed.

They’re doing almost 20 acres this year on the course south of Sioux Falls and will do the remaining 20 acres next year.

What are the benefits?

There are several.

“It’s more aesthetically pleasing, more well-defined target areas,” Crisp said. “When you’re standing on the tee, you can see where you want to hit it.”

Fescue also is a cold-weather, hardy plant that requires little maintenance. That frees up staff to focus on maintaining the greens, tee boxes and other areas.

“It also will be easier to play out of,” Crisp said. “The old rough is bluegrass and ryegrass mixed, and it gets really thick. If there’s any moisture, it’s hard to find your ball, and if you do find it, you’re taking a wedge and hacking to get it out. Because fescue is a lighter and thinner plant, you’ll be able to play it out and advance your ball much more easily.”

How long will it take?

Before the end of this year, you’ll start to see fescue growth on the course. The rest of the fescue will be planted next season, so it likely will take until the following year to really see the results.

In the meantime, the course will stay open throughout the planting.

“We’re having an awesome summer,” Crisp said. “We’ve always done well, but since becoming part of GreatLIFE, we’ve gone from about 25,000 rounds a year to 43,000. The course is always busy. We’ll still get you in, but summers go quick.”


This piece is presented by SiouxFalls.Business and the original post can be found here.

Bakker Crossing Fescue Project

Phase one of our course transformation is complete!

We are we doing?

We are excited to announce our latest course improvement at Bakker Crossing and will be changing approximately 40 acres of our current rough into fescue.



How long will the project take?

This is a 3-year project and phase one has been completed within these past few weeks. The best part is, the course will not be closed and will remain playable during the entire transformation!


What are the benefits? 

  • Less time spent mowing rough, more time maintaining tee boxes, fairways, and greens!
  • Well defined target areas to help you make your way around the course.
  • The course will have great visuals from tee to green with the contrasting grasses.
  • Bakker Crossing will still be challenging, yet welcoming for players of all ability levels. The fescue is easier to play from than the thick blue grass rough.


What will it look like? 

If you can remember Bakker Crossing of old, you might be able to picture some of the tall, lighter colored fescue that was prominent on the course. Over the years, a mix of blue grass and ryegrass has taken over.


We hope this helps answer your questions. Please let us know if you have any other questions about our project. We would love to answer them! Visit our social media pages to stay informed of our progress. 

2018 Father’s Day Two-Person Scramble

2018 Father’s Day Two-Person Scramble

We are now taking sign-ups for the 2018 Bakker Crossing Father’s Day Two-Person Scramble! Father son/daughter teams.

Sunday, June 17th, 2018.
8am Shotgun Start

We will hold the tournament in conjunction with the US Open. Each team will draw a player from the leaders of the US Open.  Your team’s score and the Sunday score of the player you draw will determine the winners.

Call or sign up in the Pro shop today! (605) 368-9700

Entry Fee: (includes Green Fees, Cart, Lunch & Prizes)
$90 per team (non GreatLIFE members)
$70 per team (one GreatLIFE member, one non-member)
$50 per team (both GreatLIFE members)

Youth, Adult and Senior flights available!

Ladies, It’s Time to Golf at Bakker Crossing!

Ladies night opens this Tuesday!

We are excited to see all our loyal members once again and cannot wait to meet all the new participants that have decided to join us this season!
Week 1, Opening Night
Tuesday, May 1st
Registration & Hors d’oeuvres
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm (Must have 2018 BCLGA Dues paid)
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm
5:30 pm (both nines)
On the Menu
Meat & Cheese Tray w/ Cocktail Buns, Swedish Meatballs, Tortilla Pin Wheels, Veggie Tray, and Free Drinks!
Flag Prizes (both nines)
The dues for the 2018 BCLGA season are $50.00.
New in 2018, participants will not be required to pay $5.00 for the weekly competition.
BCLGA Members will now compete in a season long points competition. Each week will feature an exciting format and an opportunity for players to earn points. Points are awarded based on player performance and participation. At season’s end, the BCLGA will provide awards/prizes to the players with the most points.
Dues Include:
  • 2018 USGA Handicap ($35 value)
  • Opening Night hors d’oeuvres
  • Eligibility to compete in the Ladies’ Club Championship
  • Preferred course access on Tuesday evenings
  • Year-end dinner
Dues may be paid at the opening night registration or anytime between now and the end of the season. Dues must be paid prior to competing in any BCLGA event.
Reminder: To be a member of the Bakker Crossing Ladies’ Golf Association, you DO NOT need to be a member of GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness Club. We ask of you to spread the word and bring out your friends to try out Ladies’ Day at Bakker Crossing!
Thank you for being a part of Ladies’ Day at Bakker Crossing and we look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, May 1st!
For all information regarding Ladies’ Day at Bakker Crossing and to access the entire 2018 schedule, please visit the Ladies’ Day Website!

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

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