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Wild Oak, Avera partner in program

South Dakota's newest fitness plan is making its way to Mitchell.

A partnership between Wild Oak Golf Course and the Avera Queen of Peace Wellness Center in the GreatLife Malaska Golf and Fitness group makes local participation possible for those in the Mitchell area. The agreement was met in principle recently.

Wild Oak Director of Operations Dave Backlund, Jr., said the course will start taking new GreatLife members next week.

A dozen other courses are affiliated with GreatLife, including courses in the Sioux Falls area and nearby courses in Minnesota and Iowa. A membership in GreatLife gives golfers access to all courses enrolled in the program and participating fitness centers. All of that is part of a membership deal that starts at $49.99 per month for one person.

Backlund said he saw a TV ad for the GreatLife program in Sioux Falls.

"I thought 'That's a heck of a deal,' " he recalled.

Backlund's father, Dave Sr., knows Tom Walsh, the Sioux Falls businessman who created the local idea. Wild Oak joined on with GreatLife on May 13.

Wild Oak joined the partnership in May and then looked for a local fitness center to partner. The idea was brought to Avera Queen of Peace CEO Tom Clark, who agreed it would be a good idea.

"It's a very fun idea," said Trish Delaney, Avera Queen of Peace vice president of marketing. "Wild Oak has really been on top of this and I think it's a great deal."

Backlund said the partnership works in multiple ways. It connects golf courses and fitness centers in the summer and winter, and encourages some try both.

"It's basically yearly activity," he said. "They really do go hand in hand."

The numbers point to quite a deal, as well. One month at the Avera Queen of Peace Wellness Center is $51. To play 18 holes with a cart at Wild Oak during the weekend costs $45.

But membership packages for GreatLife start at $49.99 per month for a single person. It is $59.99 per month for a couple and $69.99 per month for a family. Costs can be higher, depending on additional items such as unlimited golf cart use.

For those who are already members of Wild Oak, Backlund said a one-time payment of $75 can make them a member of GreatLife. A $50 initiation fee is also part of the program as well for all new participants.

Delaney said the wellness center will be able to take on new members at its site on the Queen of Peace campus at 525 N. Foster St.

"There's a lot of potential and I think it's a good fit," Backlund said.