In August, the Kansas City Star reported on GreatLife KC, and the remarkable concept of combining fitness centers with golf courses. It details the growth of GreatLife KC, and the idea behind it’s expansion into the Kansas City area.
“In analyzing the Kansas City market, we saw there was a nice top-tier of country clubs, but we didn’t feel there was a mid-level market,” said Rick Farrant, whose company also owns and operates the Staley Farms, The Oaks, Leavenworth, River Oaks and Liberty Hills courses.
Part of the mid-level market appeal is the business plan of one membership covering both golf and a gym. All the local golf course properties acquired by GreatLife will either have gym facilities built into converted spaces within the existing buildings, or will have a new building erected on site to house the new workout spaces. In the event that those options aren’t possible, the company will look to partner with a nearby gym or health club to continue to provide the same benefits.
“We’re trying to bring our membership-based system to that” market, Farrant said. “What we do is a two-for-one. We don’t care if you join for fitness or golf, you get both. And you get both for what you’d normally pay for one.”
The great part about the idea is that it’s beneficial for the members not just because of the two-for-one prices, but because it gives more opportunities for an individual or family to get out and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Maybe while you’re working out you realize it’s going to be beautiful weather over the weekend, and maybe the family would enjoy a few rounds outside. Or maybe you’re a golfer, who is more inclined to spend a little time at the gym now that it’s part of the package. “A lot of times at our fitness centers you’re looking out at a view of our golf course,” Farrant said. “We’ve found that people who join the gyms eventually start playing golf. And with the club setting, you can bring the kids out and play two or three holes, or six, and you don’t have to leave your life savings there when you leave.”
It isn’t just fitness and golf, either. While the amenities will vary by location and membership level, don’t forget that many of these clubs have perks like dining facilities, social functions and special events, pools, lessons and private instruction, club rooms, and more. “We believe that we’re creating golfers, and we’re excited about that,” Farrant said. “For us, a good day is dad’s playing golf, mom’s working out and the kids are in the pool. If we can get the whole family to the facility, then that’s a good day.”
And the hopes of the company don’t just stop with the KC area, they want top-tier memberships to be able to travel just about anywhere and get the same benefits. “We’re just getting ready to franchise,” Farrant said. “Hopefully you’ll be able travel to over 30 states and pull out your GreatLife card and you’re good to play.”
In a time when the game of golf is experiencing a decline in popularity, this can not only attract new members looking for gym facilities and entice them to learn to play, but it can also help families raise children who spend time outdoors, playing golf as a family. This sort of business model can also help revitalize golf as an industry. That’s a win-win situation.