Woody Austin buys out partners Rod and Rick Nuckolls at Willowbend Golf Club

WICHITA — Willowbend Golf Club partner Woody Austin is now the sole owner of the club.

The PGA Tour golfer became a partner with owners and PGA of America members Rod and Rick Nuckolls in early 2010.

At the time, Austin said: “It’s a big, long-term deal for me. It’s nothing on a short-term basis.”

He says he’s been thinking of buying the east-side club outright since then.

“It’s just a natural progression that we were thinking about when I first bought in,” he says.

The Nuckolls brothers have been partners in Willowbend since 2000 and bought out partners Mike and Mark Marney in 2003.

They came close to selling the club to Bert and Eloise Henderson, who approached them as they were preparing to sell their Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City in 2009. The Willowbend deal fell through, though. Shortly after, Austin became a partner.

Austin says he’s been working on getting things in place to take over the club, which he says included establishing Jim Elliott as general manager when he arrived.

Rick Nuckolls will retire, but Rod Nuckolls will remain as director of golf. Austin says the position will switch from a salaried one to hourly pay “so he can get off and get out whenever he wants” to golf.

“Now Rod will have a lot more time on his hands to play golf,” Austin says.

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Willowbend Golf Club and Genesis Health Clubs form partnership to share services

WICHITA — Willowbend Golf Club and Genesis Health Clubs have a new partnership to share services among their members.

“They were looking to add golf to their repertoire,” says Jim Elliott, Willowbend’s general manager. “So we sat down and started brainstorming. It wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to put together, but we pounded through it.”

Willowbend members will now be able to pay their same monthly membership dues and use any Genesis club for no extra charge.

Memberships at Willowbend cost $241 a month or, for members under 40, $174 a month.

Genesis members now have the option to join Willowbend at a reduced rate. They can subtract what they’re paying to Genesis from the monthly dues at Willowbend.

“For years (we’ve) been wanting to give our members the option to have golf as part of their memberships,” says Joe Oxler, manager for the Rock Road Genesis.

Willowbend co-owner Rod Nuckolls says it’s a unique arrangement in Wichita, though it’s becoming popular elsewhere.

“There’s kind of a trend around the country where the health clubs are becoming kind of golf-connected as well,” he says.

Nuckolls is pleased that Willowbend members now will have access to tennis courts, pools and workout facilities at no extra charge.

Oxler says it makes sense for Willowbend and Genesis.

“It’s going to attract new members for both businesses,” he says. “It was just a perfect marriage.”