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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Ladies Golf Place relocates downtown

WICHITA — After having what she calls a test location on the east side for a year, Mona Thomason is moving her Ladies Golf Place downtown near Douglas and Washington.

The shop will have its grand opening at 924 E. Douglas, which is just down from Larkspur, on Sunday.

Thomason’s shop previously was in Cambridge Market at 21st and Webb.

“I had a lot of ladies on the west side who drove there,” Thomason says.

She wanted a more centralized location so shoppers from the east and west sides could easily drive to it.

Also, Thomason says, downtown is appealing because it has a lot of traffic and tourists.

The shop sells apparel such as shoes, hats, visors and gloves.

Thomason also has merchandise in several pro shops, including Willowbend Golf Club, Crestview Country Club, Flint Hills National Golf Club, Sim Golf Course and MacDonald Golf Course.

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.”

PGA golfer Woody Austin is a new partner at Willowbend Golf Club

WICHITA — Willowbend Golf Club owners Rod and Rick Nuckolls have a new partner: PGA Tour golfer Woody Austin.

“I will not be a silent investor who will not show up,” Austin says. “Part of the allure for me is I love to tinker. . . . I will be out on the golf course trying to fix a bunker or fix a green.

“It’s a big, long-term deal for me. It’s nothing on a short-term basis.”

The Nuckolls brothers say they couldn’t have a better partner than Austin.

“Everyone knows that Woody Austin is truly one of the best players in the world,” Rick Nuckolls says.

He says Austin’s presence will have an impact with members and the club.

“The capital influx will definitely help us run the operation,” Rod Nuckolls says. “There’s been a lot of things we wanted to do.”

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Willowbend Golf Club sale is off

WICHITA — After much negotiation, the sale of Willowbend Golf Club is off.

“Things didn’t work out,” says Rick Nuckolls, who owns Willowbend with his brother, Rod.

Bert and Eloise Henderson, who are selling their Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City, had planned to buy Willowbend.

“We just decided it wasn’t going to work out best for our family,” says the Hendersons’ daughter, Cheryl Greiving.

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Sale of Echo Hills Golf Club could close soon

WICHITA — It looks like something is close to happening with Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City and, subsequently, Willowbend Golf Club.

Bert and Eloise Henderson, the owners of Echo Hills, are planning to buy Willowbend if the sale of their club goes through.

The Hendersons aren’t commenting yet, but Rod Nuckolls, who owns Willowbend with his brother, Rick, is.

Nuckolls says Bert Henderson “has an option on his land that expires at the end of September.”

“He anticipates his land being sold, and if it does close, we would close next spring,” Nuckolls says.

Mike Loveland, a broker at J.P. Weigand & Sons and the developer of Parkstone at College Hill, wants to use the Echo Hills land for a new commercial project in Park City.

Rod Nuckolls says the Hendersons plan to keep Willowbend operations as they are if they purchase the club.

“Very much so,” he says. “As a matter of fact, we’re excited for the Willowbend members because he won’t have the debt load that we did.”

If the sales go through, the Nuckolls brothers (both of whom play PGA Champions Tour events) have new plans of their own.

“I’m going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” Rick Nuckolls says. “You know what that is? Play golf.”