On September 1, 2022, GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness and Brown Golf merged creating a new company called GreatLIFE Golf combining two different histories that are now united to forge a new path forward.
History of GreatLIFE
Rick Farrant began his journey in the golf industry in 1984 when he leased his first course. While the company wouldn’t formally adopt the GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness name until 2007, the roots of the company date back to 1984 under Rick’s watch. Below is a look at the history of Rick’s experience and how GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness became the brand it is today:
Rick Farrant, CEO of GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness, leased Lake Perry Country Club in Ozawkie, KS This began the foundation of what would later become GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness in Topeka, KS.
Rick added his second course in Topeka via acquisition in Prairie View
Gym Hybrid Concept
Rick purchased a Family Golf Center and transitioned the center with a new gym hybrid concept. The center had 9 holes, miniature golf, driving range, and banquet space which he converted to gym space. After bringing in 2,000 members in year one he was hooked on the golf & fitness concept.
Rick bought and opened his first 18-hole golf course & gym concept at Berkshire Country Club in Topeka, KS. He increased the membership roster from 2,000 to 6,000 members in a 120-day window after adding a brand-new fitness center to the club.
Rick rebranded his company after an internal company contest to rename his seven locations. The winning name was GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness which has stood since that time.
2007 - 2017
GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness grew through franchising and licensing opportunities while also continuing to purchase golf facilities and gyms. GreatLIFE expanded in multiple markets and states with Kansas City, MO. becoming one of the largest markets.
Jim Klausman & Butch Eaton, who were owners of multiple Kansas City GreatLIFE locations, bought into GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness with Rick to create a new ownership group.
History of Brown Golf
Brown Golf started as a company in January of 2011. The company was founded by John A. Brown, and his two sons John M. Brown and Todd Brown. Jason Harshbarger, CFO and owner joined the Brown Golf team in November of 2011 to become the fourth owner. The company began with a venture capital funding source, allowing the company to start acquiring golf courses. Under this model the venture capital partner owned the land and Brown Golf leased back the golf club operations. Below is a brief look at Brown Golf’s history:
Pinecrest Golf Club in Bluffton, SC, was added in March of 2011 as its first facility.
By 2014, the company had expanded its footprint to thirteen facilities with locations primarily in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida. Some of these include Eagle Ridge Golf Club, a 36-hole facility located in Summerfield, FL. Windsor Parke Golf Club, an 18-hole facility located in Jacksonville, Fl. And Julington Creek Golf Club, an 18-hole facility also in Jacksonville, FL.
Passing the Torch
In 2017, founder John A. Brown retired. John M. Brown was named his successor and CEO.
Revolutionizing Online Tee TImes
In 2020, Brown Golf owners, now consisting of John M. Brown, CEO, Jason Harshbarger, CFO, and Lee Arroyo, elected to develop, fund, and launch their own proprietary booking engine, GolfBack. GolfBack now works with over 75 clubs on booking engine, email/customer relationship management tools, and website technology. Brown Golf implemented GolfBack as the main data, marketing, and revenue optimization platform for the entire portfolio.
Reaching New Heights
In Fall of 2021, Golf Inc. named John M. Brown, one of The Most Powerful People in golf. Read the article here – The Most Powerful People in Golf – Fall 2021 Golf Inc.
In 2021, Brown Golf purchased Carolina National Golf Club, a 27-hole Fred Couples designed golf course located in Bolivia, NC..
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