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Golf season brings new rules of the game. Here’s what you need to know

Original content published by Sioux Falls Business Journal with Jodi Schwan. Sponsored by GreatLIFE Golf & Fitness.

While golfers begin to immerse themselves in all the routines involved in getting their games in shape after a particularly long and cold winter, they’ll have additional adjustments to make this spring.

The Rules of Golf have changed. While none of these changes would singularly qualify as earthshaking, collectively reducing the sport’s 34 core rules to 24 definitely will be worthy of study and commitment to memory for those who desire to play the game the right way.

The most obvious change, one that fans have witnessed on television since the PGA, Champions and LPGA Tours began play in January, is that golfers now have the option of leaving the flagstick in for all shots, including putts.

Other rule changes may not be as obvious but could be just as important depending on the situation. Collectively, it’s an attempt by golf’s governing bodies to simplify with a nod to making the game and its rules a little more accessible to the casual player.

“The whole point is to make golf more playable,” said Jason Sudenga, GreatLIFE director of golf. “I think they’ve done that, especially with the flagstick. There’s not so many rules with the flagstick or with golf balls on the putting green.”

Here’s a summary of some of the major changes, some of which will affect amateur casual golfers.


In the old days, once a ball was on the green, the flagstick had to be removed for the next shot. Not anymore. Now, it’s entirely up the preference of the golfer whether it’s out or in.

“Some people say it’s an advantage to keep the pin in, and some say it’s not,” Sudenga said. “I guess it depends on the situation that you’re in. It could hurt you, and it could help you. I’ve seen examples of both already this year.”

An obvious motive for this rule change involves speeding up play.

“You don’t have to take the time to pull the flag out and put it back in,” Sudenga said. “You can hit it in, pick up your ball and then move on to the next hole.”

Repairing greens

On TV, the next most noticeable rule change involves caddies not being able to stand behind their golfers during putts. On a local level, however, the fact that golfers now will be able to repair everything in their path from ball to hole will be much more applicable. In the past, it was OK to repair ball marks that might alter the shot, but for reasons that seemed mystifying to many golfers, they could not repair spike marks. Now, it’s OK to repair with impunity, regardless of origination.

“On a day-to-day basis for the average golfer, it could really come into play,” Sudenga said. “We’ve seen with the elimination of metal spikes a drastic reduction in spike marks on the green from what it used to be. Now, they’re saying, ‘Hey, if you see one you can tap it down.’ ”

Accidental movement of the golf ball

In the past, if a golf ball on the green was accidentally bumped while being marked, it was cause for a penalty. Now, accidents like this will be tolerated as long as the ball is put back in its original spot. Furthermore, if a ball moved after it was placed after being marked, players had to play the ball from wherever it ended up. Now, they can move the ball back to its original spot without penalty. “The new rules are definitely a little friendlier on the greens,” Sudenga said. “If the wind moves your ball, you pick it up and put it back and away you go. That’s a nice one for golfers.”

No more two-chip penalties

It’s possible to hit a ball twice on the same shot. Famously, it was an act committed by T.C. Chen in the 1985 U.S. Open and played a role in costing him the tournament. It usually happens during chip shots with the club deaccelerating as it moves through shot. It was a one-stroke penalty, and now golfers can just play the ball where it lands without an additional stroke added to the score.

No such thing as a water hazard

Water hazards have been renamed “penalty areas” in the golf rule book with no distinguishing one from the other. Golfers are free to move loose impediments and ground the club without fear of penalty. Players can not try to improve their chances of hitting out of a penalty area by using a club to clear a path, however.

“There were a lot of golf courses out there that were marking areas of the course as water hazards when they were not water hazards,” Sudenga said. “I like this rule. It’s going to save some time because you’re going to be able to make a drop instead of going back to the tee box to hit again.”

While there are several other rule changes, most of them will not affect a normal non-tournament round. For a complete list, with explanations and clarifications, players can visit the USGA website.

Here’s a look at all the major changes courtesy of GreatLIFE:

  1.  SEARCH TIME – Reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes
  2.  BALL MOVED DURING SEARCH – Replace with NO penalty
  3.  EMBEDDED BALL – Free relief anywhere through the course
  4.  MEASURING A DROP – Use longest club (except putter)
  5.  DROPPING – Drop from knee height rather than shoulder
  8.  DOUBLE HIT – NO penalty, now only counts as 1 stroke
  11.  DROPPING A BALL OUT OF BUNKER – 2 penalty strokes
  12.  WATER HAZARDS – now called “penalty areas”
  14.  BALL MOVES ON GREEN AFTER BEING MARKED – replace without penalty

Play Free This Fall

Offer ended 11/14/18.

There’s still great golf to be enjoyed outside this fall. You can Play Free This Fall with a GreatLIFE membership. Become a Golf & Fitness member starting at just $59.99. Join now and take advantage of no enrollment fee and no payments until December.

It’s a perfect time to take to the course, take in the autumn colors, swing the clubs and enjoy the temperatures. Golfers can tee off at 23 different courses throughout the region including Sioux Falls, Hartford, Brandon, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Luverne, Beresford, Brookings, Mitchell, Yankton and more.

Get fit in the gym too at one of our 15 locations. Members also enjoy perks like free bowling at GreatLIFE Suburban Lanes and discounts to Sky Zone.


New Golf & Fitness members can play free this fall with no enrollment fee and no payments until December. For a full list of member benefits, click here

*Offer good for new Golf & Fitness memberships only. Please bring voided check at time of sign up. Not valid with any other offers, some restrictions apply. Excludes Mitchell, SD, location.

Rocky Run Father’s Day 2-Person Scramble

Date & Time:

Father Son/Daughter Teams
Sunday, June 18th, 2017
8 AM Shotgun Start

Tournament Details:

We will hold the tournament in conjunction with the U.S. Open. Each team will draw a player from the leaders of the U.S. Open. Your team’s score and the Sunday score of the player you draw in the U.S. Open will determine the winners. Prizes will be awarded accordingly.

Sign up in the Pro Shop or call 605.428.3498, or email


Includes Gree Fees, Cart, Lunch & Prizes

Non-GreatLIFE Members – $90 per team
GreatLIFE Members – $50 per team
One GreatLIFE Member, one Non-GreatLIFE Member – $70 per team

Youth, Adult, and Senior Flights!

Rocky Run is located in Dell Rapids. We are just a short drive north from Sioux Falls.


Fitness PLUS Members Golf Free Mondays and Tuesdays

Fitness PLUS Members Golf Free Mondays and Tuesdays


At GreatLIFE, “plus” is our new passion.

All annual fitness memberships are now GreatLIFE Fitness PLUS. Plus means more perks at the same low price. GreatLIFE’s Fitness PLUS annual membership now includes FREE golf at Rocky Run on Mondays and Tuesdays!

That’s just one of the many exciting new benefits available as part of GreatLIFE’s Golf & Fitness PLUS and Fitness PLUS annual memberships. Whether it’s premiere golf courses, the best in fitness equipment and instruction, delectable dining options or family fun on the bowling lanes, GreatLIFE is always looking to give members the most for their money. With GreatLIFE Fitness PLUS, we can guarantee family fun – all week long – at an incredibly low price.

Visit for more information.


Offers only apply to the individuals listed on the GreatLIFE Membership. One month free offer is not valid for Worthington memberships. For GreatLIFE Membership upgrades, please visit GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club or the GreatLIFE Performance & Fitness Center. 

Rocky Run Upcoming Tournaments


Visit Our Event Calendar

2 – Woman Best Ball
Sunday, May 21st
8:00am Tee Time Start
Please call 605-428-3498 or email
to sign up for your tee time!

GreatLIFE Members, No Cart Fee Needed – $30.00 per player
GreatLIFE Members, Cart Fee Needed – $50.00 per player
Non-GreatLIFE Members, No Cart Fee Needed – $60.00 per player
Non-GreatLIFE Members, Cart Needed – $80.00 per player

Couples Two – Person Scramble
Sunday, May 28th
8:00am Tee Time Start
Please call 605-428-3498 or email to sign up for your tee time!

GreatLIFE Members, No Cart Fee Needed – $40.00 per couple
GreatLIFE Members, Cart Fee Needed – $80.00 per couple
Non-GreatLIFE Members, No Cart Fee Needed – $100.00 per couple
Non-GreatLIFE Members, Cart Fee Needed – $120.00 per couple

Rocky Run Golf Course is a fully managed GreatLIFE facility located in Dell Rapids, SD. Take the short drive up I-29 and enjoy our championship golf course! We feature a meticulously manicured course that challenges all skill levels. After your round, choose from one of our many tap beers and enjoy great food!

Get Up Close and Personal – Volunteer!

As the entire city gears up to enjoy the 2nd Annual Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge in September, it’s easy to forget that there are hundreds of people behind the scenes that make it all happen. From setup to takedown and cart drivers to marshals, volunteers all across Sioux Falls come together to make this event run smoothly and to ensure visitors have a positive and memorable experience of the city.

You can be a part of the excitement by becoming a volunteer.

GreatLIFE is looking for local volunteers to act as host families and caddies, and to provide other services throughout the tournament. This is an opportunity to enjoy the action up close, meet world-class athletes and help Sioux Falls’ star shine proudly as the host city of the Symetra Tour – the Road to the LPGA.

You can help make this tournament a success, and have some fun on the fairway.

Visit the GreatLIFE Challenge website to volunteer, be a caddy, or host a tournament player.

For more information, contact Tom Van Wyhe, Chair GreatLIFE Challenge – or Cheryl Dodd, Co-Chair GreatLIFE Challenge –

GreatLIFE Performance Center Now Open.

Practice. Power. Performance.

Tap into state-of-the-art elite sports training and fitness at GreatLIFE Performance & Fitness Center, now open and ready to help athletes and other individuals move their fitness goals forward.

Located in southeast Sioux Falls at 69th and Southeastern Ave, the 40,300 sq. ft. multi-tenant building will be shared by GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club, Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital, Orthopedic Institute (OI), D1 – a Nashville-based business that operates more than two dozen athletic training facilities nationwide, and Sioux Falls Storm. In addition to the inside space, the new facility offers 900 sq. ft. of covered outdoor workout space that will be open seasonally.
GreatLIFE and all of the other high-profile tenants offer programs and amenities that keep the focus on sports performance training and healthy living. GreatLIFE serves not only to athletes, but every member of the family in an effort to support healthy lifestyles that last well into the future.

At GreatLIFE Performance Center, GreatLIFE members enjoy all of the benefits they’ve become accustomed to, plus a whole lot more!

  • Outdoor training
  • Boot Camp
  • Fitness & cardio machines
  • Free weights
  • Full gym
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Group fitness
  • Yoga
  • Childcare

This high-caliber facility provides the area a premier athletic training center and amenities and benefits for the entire community. It’s about living better through making fitness a habit.

Aligned with the GreatLIFE mission – To enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness, and healthy lifestyles – GreatLIFE Performance and FitnessCenter offers members the right place, the right professionals, and the right equipment.

Tap into your power at GreatLIFE Performance & Fitness Center.

GreatLIFE Performance & Fitness Center
5901 S Southeastern Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
(605) 271-7324

KELOLAND: Living the GreatLIFE

Living the GreatLIFE
January 20, 2016, 10:15 PM by Sammi Bjelland

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Great Life is a pretty well-known name around Sioux Falls now, but it hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the fitness and lifestyle company has only been open a few years.

“A little over two years ago we started with no members. After a year we had about 4,400 memberships,” said Hill.

Most memberships include two people. Now Great Life boasts nearly 11,000 memberships, with 24,000 people.

“It has been an explosion. It has been beyond what we expected. And Great Life isn’t what we started out to do actually,” said Hill.

Great Life President, Donn Hill, says the idea grew over time from something he and the other co-owners saw in Kansas.

The concept was to put fitness centers on golf courses, and sell joint memberships.

“We started with a fitness center at Bakker Crossing. Then we made a deal with EMBE downtown to put a fitness center in there. But really what we’ve done different is make this more about fitness,” said Hill.

Great Life currently has 13 fitness centers in and around Sioux Falls. Only a few of them are on golf courses.

The facility at Woodlake in western Sioux Falls is so popular, you’ll find a full house in the middle of a workday afternoon.

“The parking lots are full. People are parking on the streets. We started a shuttle from Empire Bowl to this facility,” said Hill.

Speaking of bowling, Great Life has recently added free bowling at select locations to its membership perks.

Just this month, Great Life also announced a partnership with SkyZone in Sioux Falls, so members can now get a reduced rate at the trampoline park.

“Our mission is to enrich the lives of families and individuals through golf, fitness and healthy lifestyles. And so we went beyond just golf and fitness,” said Hill.

Not only are these partnerships beneficial to Great Life, they’re also helping out other local businesses here in Sioux Falls.

“With 24,000 members you can imagine the marketing possibility for another business if they get involved with us. But also, because we’re bringing free bowling to places, all of a sudden the bowling alleys are full,” said Hill.

With any added benefits, also comes an added cost. At the beginning of this year, Great Life increased some of its membership cost by $10; something Hill says makes sense with the growth of the business.

“We want to make this a fun experience for all of our members and build loyalty. We think we’re doing that by hiring good people. Having everybody have a smile on their face, and providing quality things you could never get at this price,” said Hill.

A price many people seem more than willing to pay.

Hill won’t say what exactly, but Great Life is looking to add more partnerships with other local businesses that focus on bringing families together.

© 2016 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrate the Sounds of Christmas with GreatLIFE!

It’s FREE. It’s FESTIVE. It’s FUN.

Perhaps like no other time during the year, the holiday season brings people together to celebrate. And if you ask Chairman/CEO Tom Walsh, Sr. and his friend, recording artist Dan Mahar, there’s no better way to celebrate than with friends – and good music.

At GreatLIFE we’ve had the pleasure of making many new friends and enjoying the company of our old friends throughout the year. To say thank you for your membership and for believing in our mission, we would like you to join us for a very special night of Christmas music performed by Nashville recording artist and songwriter, Dan Mahar.

GreatLIFE members are invited to join us for this FREE event:

Tuesday, December 15
7 p.m.
Washington Pavilion

Free-will donations will benefit Sioux Falls Cares.
Tickets are available at the door. Come early to get the best seats.

And from all of us at GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club, warm wishes for a great holiday season.

Walsh ranked among top golf innovators

Sioux Falls Business Journal
July 17, 2015
By Jodi Schwan


Great Life Malaska Golf & Fitness CEO Tom Walsh has been named one of the top 10 innovators in golf by Golf Inc. Magazine.

The publication ranked Walsh and Rick Farrant, CEO of GreatLife in Kansas, third and second respectively.

Farrant started the unlimited golf and fitness concept in Kansas. Walsh ran with it in the Sioux Falls area and has grown it 14,000 members able to use 19 area golf courses and 10 fitness centers.

“It’s beyond anything we imagined,” Walsh told the magazine.

The top spot for innovation to Erik Anderson, CEO of Topgolf, a concept that turns the game into a party scene with live music, televisions and courses that light up at night.

To read the full article in Golf Inc., click here.