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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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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