Carrie Rengers

Tallgrass Country Club owner to buy competing golf club

The owners of Tallgrass Country Club have entered an agreement to purchase Willowbend Golf Club.

“We think that there’s a great advantage to having two really high-end golf products just down the road from each other,” says Bryan Minnis, COO of GreatLife Golf & Fitness.

The company, which has headquarters in Topeka and Kansas City, Mo., purchased Tallgrass in 2016.

GreatLife is buying the Willowbend property at 8001 E. Mulberry Drive from Woody and Shannon Austin, who could not be reached for comment.

The Willowbend deal is expected to close in 45 to 60 days. Minnis won’t disclose the sale price.

He says part of the attraction in buying Willowbend is how well known it is and how respected the Austins are in golf and in the Wichita community.

Willowbend “is just an incredible golf product,” Minnis says.

GreatLife has 71 golf properties nationally.

“We own just over 70 percent of those properties,” Minnis says.

It manages or leases the rest.

“We’re definitely a golf company,” Minnis says.

However, he says, “We like to be known as a recreation company.”

GreatLife also owns bowling alleys, aquatic facilities and related businesses nationally.

Minnis says the company likes to have a dense concentration of properties in an area.

“That’s what we’re trying to develop in Wichita.”

GreatLife owns the Augusta Country Club and Fox Ridge Golf Course in Newton and is acquiring Prairie Trails Golf Course in El Dorado, where it has already taken over management.

Minnis won’t say if GreatLife is considering buying any other local properties.

From the time of the Willowbend purchase, members there and at Tallgrass will be able to use both facilities.

“There will be no extra fee at this time,” Minnis says.

He says he doesn’t plan to change that for now, but he says he can’t say what the future holds regarding fees.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to say in perpetuity.”

Minnis doesn’t plan any significant changes for Willowbend.

“The club is in very good condition.”

He says Willowbend’s practice area is one of the finest around Wichita.

Also, Minnis thinks having reciprocal privileges between Willowbend and Tallgrass will make both places more robust, which increases social connectivity and “makes it all that much more fun.”

Minnis says GreatLife is a mission-driven company that has a goal to improve the lives of individuals and families through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles.

“That’s what’s driving our mission to grow and expand our company.”

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