The GreatLife golf family just got bigger.
The regional golf and fitness group has added Deer Creek, Falcon Ridge and Wichita’s Tallgrass to its group of fourteen (14) GreatLifeKC courses.
During a July 29 open house, GreatLife owner Doug Albers explained why the addition of these courses made sense.
“It’s a great addition to the courses we already have in our family,” he said. “Now we’re somewhat on the Johnson County side. We’ve had a heavy presence on the Missouri side of the state line, until we got Canyon Farms recently. Now we get to kind of round out this side of town. In the big 435 loop of life in Kansas City there’s a whole lot of access to our golf courses for all of our members.”
Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge join Drumm Farm in the ‘Classic’ tier of courses, while Tallgrass becomes part of the ‘Legend’ tier, along with Canyon Farms, St. Joseph Country Club, and Staley Farms. The ‘Champion’ tier remains the same, including Leavenworth, Liberty Hills, Painted Hills, River Oaks, Royal Meadows, and The Oaks.
GreatLife CEO Doug Farrant was pleased to add these courses to their offerings, even though 2016 has been a hectic time for all involved with Painted Hills, Royals Meadows and Tallgrass all coming into the GreatLife family at about the same time.
“We’re having a lot of fun doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re really excited about these because these are two really great properties, and Drumm Farm we would really put in that category, too.”
Both Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge are currently public, daily-fee courses. GreatLife has plans to take them to a private membership level which helps increase the value of the course and the surrounding properties.
“(Local homeowners) would rather have it become a more of a prestige-type of course than a public-type course because they feel that it adds to the value of their homes,” Albers said. “And it probably does, especially if they have a home on the golf course.”
Farrant explained that the process has worked well at their ‘Legend’ level courses and expects the same results for Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge.
“We’re really comfortable with the membership model,” he said. “We’ve got some history on this and we’re officially full at Staley Farms. Canyon Farms is probably under 80 from being (full). Once again, I think more is better. The more we add – courses, fitness, activities, all of the above – is all good.”
As always with GreatLife, the focus is not just on golf. Plans are afoot to enhance the existing golf offerings at Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge with access to fitness facilities and additional family-oriented activities.
“It’s an evolving process,” Farrant said. “It is what we do. We’ll eventually have fitness options and we have definite ideas on what we’re going to do over here, but we’re not quite ready to announce that yet.”
“They’re working on that,” said Deer Creek General Manager Chris Fink. “There’s a possibility of adding on to this building and adding a fitness facility in the future, or joining up with some of the local fitness clubs. Joining here, our members would become a part of that fitness center, doing a partnership. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes to try to get fitness here at Deer Creek.”
Primarily, GreatLife wants to provide activities for the entire family, including fitness, plus FootGolf and FlingGolf, which are golf-oriented variants of soccer and lacrosse, respectively.
“It’s one more thing to get families here,” Albers said. “We can have a dad on a weekend playing golf and mom goes shopping and he’s got the kids. Well, now he can go out and play nine holes at Drumm and his kids can play right next to him, playing FootGolf or FlingGolf. Or we can have a group that tees off that’s playing regular golf and right behind them is a group that’s playing FootGolf and behind them is a group playing FlingGolf.”
“Any family activity is good for us,” Farrant added.
GreatLife is also the first organization to offer another fun item with the introduction to all of their courses of the Golf Skate Caddy, which Albers expects will improve speed of play.
“If a foursome goes out – all four players are on a Golf Skate Caddy – they’re all going to their own ball individually at the same time,” he said.
“We just put those in last week,” Fink said. “It’s different. It’s something that’s going to change golf a little bit. They are fun to ride. We’re the first courses in Kansas City to have them, all the GreatLife properties.”
The offering from Sprocket Golf is like a golf cart built for one person who rides it in a manner similar to a Segway, quickly allowing individuals to move directly to their own ball.
“All the millennials are excited,” Albers said. “I’m excited and I’m not a millennial. Being on one of those things would be super fun to get out there and just go to your own ball and play.”
Of course, the golf at Deer Creek is always good.
“It’s the golf course itself (which makes it unique),” Fink said. “The golf course conditions are really good. The greens are really good here. I don’t want to say it’s a hidden gem because it’s been around for a while, but the golf course is a good golf course. Deer Creek’s been around a long time. I’m just excited to get it back on the map, being a place that people want to be at, just a fun place.”
Deer Creek is also a good place for community and corporate gatherings.
“We have two and a half banquet rooms,” Fink said. “We have a multi-boardroom style that fits 20 to 30 people and then we have an upstairs one that holds 150 and then another one that holds about 300. Last year, we did about 70 weddings. This year we’ll do 60 and next year we’re on track to do 80. Plus, we do another 300 or 400 events, whether it’s corporate or bar mitzvahs or retirement dinners, birthday parties, meetings. We do a lot of corporate meetings.”
At Deer Creek and Falcon Ridge, and at Drumm Farm, the goal is to increase membership to about 400 with a collective membership level of at least a thousand for the three courses. The annual membership at Deer Creek, Falcon Ridge or Drumm Farm allows members to play at any of those three courses or any of the ‘Champion’ tier courses, while play at the ‘Legend’ tier courses would be available for a small additional fee. Membership at any level also provides discounted rates at Osage National for the golf course or their “Stay & Play” packages.
Members have access to 58 regional clubs. The reciprocal play opportunities at 14 clubs in the Kansas City, Wichita and Southern Missouri area means there will always be somewhere for members to play, even when your home club is closed for a tournament or other private event.
“There’s going to be a lot of availability for people to play,” Fink said. “Even if we have a tournament or Falcon Ridge has a tournament, there’s still other golf courses these guys can go play. From a market standpoint, it’s going to be fun to watch. Everybody’s a part of the GreatLife family.”
“Somebody may have an outside tournament on (one course),” Albers explained, “so it gives them somewhere else to play instead of saying ‘we’re out of luck, our course is shut down’.”
Reciprocal club access also helps members in other ways.
“You may have a guy who lives here and works in Independence, so he can go out and work out at that facility out there and he plays golf here,” Albers explained. “There are always those tradeoffs. Maybe it’s absolutely the reverse. He plays golf there and works out this way. So, I think with the 435 loop, this gives everybody so much access to all of these properties.”
“Everybody’s still going to have a home course,” Farrant said. “We wanted to have that member feel, but we’ve got a few people that just play them all regularly. I think that’s a real added benefit. If you’re a GreatLife member, there are 58 courses you can play for basically a cart fee. As that continues to expand we just hope that continues to get better and better.”
Another positive aspect of being a GreatLife member is that it benefits the community. Fifteen percent of Drumm Farm’s revenue goes to the GreatLife Cares Foundation, a charitable organization which assists foster care children and families.
“When you play golf there you’re technically helping the Drumm Farm Children’s Institute,” Farrant explained. “They’re a fabulous thing. They do some really great work. It’s something that really makes you feel good to get behind and support.”
There are a lot of good reasons to become part of the GreatLife family.
“It’s just a good day to be a GreatLife member,” Albers said. “A lot of times we’ll see a family come out and to be a part of that quality time – you can tell they’re enjoying themselves, even if it’s not playing golf – is something we take a lot of pride in.”
For more information about Deer Creek or Falcon Ridge, visit www.deercreekgc.com or www.falconridgegolf.com
For more information about GreatLife, visit www.greatlifegolf.com