The Wente family first established an Estate and Winery in Livermore in 1883.
Over the years generations of the Wente family continued expanding the vineyards and winery, becoming one of California's most extensive wine exporters.
In 1980 they opened The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, and then in 1998 they opened the golf course.
It was designed by the legendary Greg Norman and known as The Course at Wente Vineyards.
The course received Audubon certification in 2010.
I like Greg Norman courses.
I am a member of The National Golf Club in Australia, where The Moonah course designed by Norman is oft regarded as a world top 100 course.
Norman has produced a lot of high quality courses around the world- particularly in Australia & Vietnam.
I have been fortunate to play many of them (including Ellerston, Cathedral Lodge, Danang & The Bluffs).
To be fair a number of the early courses in Australia were designed in conjunction with Bob Harrison..
Norman was himself a tremendous ball striker, and I think this is reflected in his designs.
His par 3's in particular are quite demanding.
However his work is usually sympathetic to the terrain, and built with a sense of drama.
Sandbelt style bunkering often dominates the look of his courses.
At Wente Vineyards Norman has a very interesting piece of land as his palate.
The routing moves through difffering terrains encountering significant elevation change along the way.
Norman often throws in some short strategic par 4's, and some testing longer holes.
So there is plenty of variety.
Not to mention some magical background landscapes..
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, a straightaway par 4 from a very high tee. Welcome to Wente Vineyards!
- hole 2, a short dogleg par to a green in a woody copse surrounded by bunkers
- hole 3, a pretty short par 3 to another heavily bunkered green
- hole 7, a short, tight par 4 with a green high above the fairway (see pic top of page)
- hole 10, a short par 4 from a mountain top tee towering over the surrounding countryside. Miss right and it's a long way down!
- hole 12, a picturesque and demanding par 5, with a blind second shot and a tricky approach past a large tree.
- hole 13, a tight downhill dogleg par 4 with elevated green sitting atop a fortress of bunkers.
I would not have picked this as terrain for a golf course.
The severity of the land precludes any possibility of walking the course, but provides plenty of heroic shots.
I found Wente Vineyards very entertaining to play.
Your cameras will be working overtime as the holes fit snugly into the most pictureque of landscapes.
Perhaps the finishing trio of holes lower the bar a little, but overall Wente Vineyards is a course worth playing over.
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