Cody Price General Manager of The Course at Wente Vineyards

Course at Wente Vineyards

Designed by golf great Greg Norman, the 18-hole championship course is a picturesque 7,181-yard, par-72, upscale, daily-fee golf course tucked away in the scenic Livermore Valley, 50 minutes east of San Francisco.

The Course at Wente Vineyards opened in July 1998. With three distinct topographies, native woodlands, mature vineyards and rolling hills of natural grasslands, The Course at Wente Vineyards offers extraordinary visual panoramas and a diversity of play unmatched in the Bay Area. Designed for both novice and pro, The Course has played host to the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship, part of the PGA Tour’s Nationwide Tour.

The Course has a practice putting green and chipping green near the golf shop and a driving range and short-game practice area about five minutes by golf cart from the golf shop. Primetime green fees include unlimited practice balls. If you would like to use the driving range before your tee time, we recommend arriving at least 45 minutes early.

Cody Price GM of Course at Wente Vineyards
Cody Price GM of Course at Wente Vineyards

Cody’s interest in golf started when he was 8 years old at his hometown golf course in Friday Harbor, WA. He became an avid golfer and landed a summer job at the golf course when he was just 13 years old. Cody played golf throughout high school in Washington and then in college at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. Cody holds a BS in Business Administration from California Lutheran University and a Turfgrass Management Certificate from Penn State University. Prior to moving to Northern California, Cody spent five years at North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA where he began as an intern before he became the Assistant Superintendent. In 2016, Cody was hired at The Course at Wente Vineyards as the 1st Assistant Superintendent. He was promoted to Head Golf Course Superintendent in 2018, and then became the General Manager in 2021. Cody, his wife Alyssa, and their dog Rummy reside in Danville, CA.

1. What motivated your club to join the Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) for Golf?

One of our core company values at The Course at Wente Vineyards is sustainability. We strive to work in harmony, preserve and even enhance the natural environment and habitats around the property. Partnership with the Audubon has been a no brainer as they provide valuable resources and programs that are beneficial to not only our golf course, but the community.

Related: Audubon Releases New Edition of “A Guide to Environmental Stewardship on the Golf Course”

Hole #5 Course at Wente Vineyards
Hole #5 Course at Wente Vineyards

2. What did it take to achieve ACSP certification – how long was the process and what steps were involved?

Lots of hard work and energy went into achieving ACSP certification. The Course at Wente Vineyards has been certified since 2009. Glenn Matthews was the superintendent that led the charge to become certified, but each superintendent since has done an excellent job in maintaining certification and building on Glenn’s foundation.

The steps involved included environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, meticulous record keeping, safe chemical use, proof of reduction in chemical use, community education and outreach, turf reduction, water conservation, water quality management and testing, and performing case studies.

Hole #7 Course at Wente Vineyards
Hole #7 Course at Wente Vineyards

3. What did it cost to earn certification all-in and what were the biggest expense items?

Now that additional native areas have been established, there is cost savings in maintaining the golf course. Our biggest expense items are seed and California native plants. Each year we aim to enhance our landscapes by removing water-loving plants and replacing them with drought tolerant, California native plants. We also seed in wildflowers and plants to enhance our hummingbird and butterfly habitat.

Hole #13 Course at Wente Vineyards
Hole #13 Course at Wente Vineyards

4. What were/are the most challenging aspects of being certified and maintaining the standards required to achieve and retain that status?

I think one of the most challenging aspects around golf courses today, specifically in California, is the association of golf courses and wasting water. What many folks don’t realize is that our golf course superintendents are professionals at their craft. Just like a golfer on the PGA tour practices day in and day out on their game, we are constantly looking for ways to conserve water, reduce chemical use, and become more sustainable. Audubon International holds their members accountable through site visits and audits ensuring that wildlife and habitat is being managed appropriately, chemicals are being used responsibly, and only when needed, community education and outreach is taking place, water conservation goals are being met, water quality is not being impacted, and requiring case studies and special projects to maintain certification.

Hole #14 Course at Wente Vineyards
Hole #14 Course at Wente Vineyards

5. What specific benefits are you reaping from being a Certified Member?

Being a certified member gives our ownership and staff a sense of pride, accomplishment, and security, knowing that we are doing the right things and taking care of the land.

6. What would you share with other superintendents and course managers who are considering joining the Audubon International ACSP program?

I highly recommend becoming a certified member of the ACSP for Golf. Most superintendents and golf course managers are already meeting the majority of the requirements to become certified, so going the extra mile, formalizing plans and programs, and committing to be stewards of the land is a great thing. You will reap many benefits and be supported along the way.

Member - Guest 2022 Course
Member – Guest 2022 Course

7. What is the best guidance or tip(s) you have received pertaining to being a superintendent and overseeing the golf course agronomy/maintenance department? (And from whom?)

I have been fortunate to work for several tremendous golf course superintendents and mentors. I must credit Bryan Germain, the golf course superintendent at the time at San Juan Golf and Country Club in Washington State. If it wasn’t for him pulling me out of the pro shop and sticking me on a mower, I don’t think I would be working in the golf industry today.

One of the best tips I’ve ever been given that sticks with me today is, do not assume anything. The late Ryan Bentley may have worded it in a more colorful way, but making assumptions will get you in trouble when it comes to golf course maintenance.

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