WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Country Club board, by a vote of 114-2, recently resolved to allow GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club, of Sioux Falls, S.D., to enter into a lease-to-own agreement with the facility.

The hope is that the action will bring new life to the country club at a time in which private golf courses have shown signs of struggling. Tom Walsh Sr., owner of the Burger King franchise in Worthington, is the founder of GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club.

“We started some initial discussions early this summer,” Walsh said earlier this month. “We invited several of their board members to a corporate outing at Willow Run Golf Course in Sioux Falls in August to have them take a look at how we operate.

“We’ve been in the hospitality business for over 40 years, so we’re good at developing people, building relationships and marketing.”

Worthington Country Club will be the fourth golf course that the company is leasing to own. GreatLIFE also has 12 affiliate courses, including several in the Sioux Falls market as well as Emerald Hills and Okoboji View, both in Okoboji, Iowa.

GreatLIFE has big plans for the Worthington Country Club. Walsh said the golf course already has a good business plan, and that GreatLIFE will simply elevate it.

“Many families don’t have time or the money to go out golfing or work out together, but we have been able to take the expense aspect out of the golf and fitness,” Walsh explained. “Those who purchase a membership will have access to all 15 of our golf courses, plus the 20 fitness centers in the Kansas area.”

Walsh said the GreatLIFE membership is $49.99 a month for a single person, $59.99 monthly for a couple and $69.99 monthly for a family. That will get members free green fees, but having a golf cart and food and beverage will still cost extra.

“We’ve seen, this year, record numbers of families, couples and women participating,” Walsh said. “It’s just been a wonderful experience.”

Walsh also described other upgrades he plans to make to the facility, starting with an advisory board for the entire facility that will involve Worthington Country Club members and a grounds committee that will set priorities as far as capital improvements. The advisory board will be implemented Jan. 1.

“At the course we also plan to do a number of things with the golf carts, like include GPS and have Bluetooth installed in all 160 carts so you can take your iPhone and play music through the speaker system,” Walsh said.

Walsh said other upgrades could include golf ball and club washers, new tee areas and new kitchen equipment.

“There is also some tree damage that we need to get cleaned up and drainage issues that we will address,” Walsh said. “We’ll continue to upgrade the golf course and put the focus on over-delivering to our members and guests.”

GreatLIFE’s plans to improve the Worthington Country Club extend beyond the golf course. The company is working with the executive director of the Worthington Area YMCA, Andy Johnson, and the Y board - as well as individuals at Prairie Rehab & Fitness of Worthington - to possibly partner with them and allow GreatLIFE members access to their facilities.

“Our goal at GreatLIFE is to enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles,” Walsh said.

Work on the course is scheduled to begin somewhere between Feb. 1 and March 1, 2015. However, the ordering of restaurant equipment and some upgrades on the golf carts will begin as soon as the official documents are signed, according to Walsh.

“The newly elected mayor called and welcomed us to Worthington, and everybody that we have dealt with has been wonderful,” Walsh said.