Country clubs across the country have struggled to get and keep members. Westward Ho Country Club in Sioux Falls has seen its share of ups and downs. From a general manger who embezzled from the club, to losing members in the recession.
But under new leadership, those troubles have turned around. Now Westward Ho is about to undergo at $12 million makeover.
Kids are enjoying the last few days of the pool being open this summer at Westward Ho Country Club. The pool will close on Sunday. On Monday, construction of a new 40,000 square foot clubhouse in this spot will get underway.
"We'll have a 1500 square foot fitness facility, new swimming pool, and new splash park for the children, banquet facilities second to none. Just a very, very nice improvement to the club; more of a lifestyle than a membership now," General Manager Tim Walton said.
Walton says Westward Ho is in the financial position to pay for the $12 million makeover without raising membership fees.
"The only club in America that's privately owned that has the ability to do it today," Walton said.
Walton came in to Sioux Falls two years ago to help make Westward Ho viable in a future where country club membership is declining.
"Our future is right outside by the pool today. I mean the kids," Walton said.
While the new golf membership business, GreatLife, may offer golf and fitness at a more affordable price for families, Walton says there will always be people looking for the country club lifestyle.
"I think the niche for Great Life is a good thing and actually plays into our favor," Walton said.
Once the new clubhouse and pool are complete, about this time next year, the 60-year-old building will be torn down, to make way for parking.
Members say they welcome the changes.
"It's a little bit painful for a little while, having to go through the process, but it will be well worth it," Member Mark Amundson said.
Rumors have been flying that Westward Ho will also change its name in the process, but that's not the case for now.
Westward Ho currently has more than 700 members. A full membership has an initial fee of $5,000 and costs an additional $6,000 a year. But there are also several other levels of memberships that cost less.