How Greg Alterman Turned Wine into Golf

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A backyard oasis with Greg Alterman

Photography by Giovanni Reda

Turning water into wine. That’s an old trick, one we’ve heard before. But turning wine into golf? Seems like a concept that would have the scholars chatting about the clubhouse. A story that we did not think existed, or at least one that we wouldn’t hear in our lifetime. That is until we came across Greg Alterman. Greg has successfully taken one thing that was not being used to its fullest potential. He transformed an overgrown old wine vineyard in his backyard into something that is loved and appreciated on a daily basis—a world-class eco-friendly pitch and putt oasis.

“To be honest, on a scale of 1–10, the vineyard was producing wine that was about a 2,” Alterman told us. “It wasn’t exactly like I knew what I was doing with the vineyard or had a lot of excitement about it being there. At the same time, it was not like I have a ton of experience creating and designing a golf course. But for the latter, I became obsessed.”

It was not like I have a ton of experience creating and designing a golf course

Given Greg’s track record, it seems when he sets his sights on something, there is going to be a significant amount of energy, a high standard for design and quality, and attention to detail that would have Michelangelo giving a little golf clap, that is going to be applied. For background, or the next time you’re on your phone, feel free to look up Greg’s previous accomplishments with building Alternative Apparel, Juice Served Here or his golf scholarship to the University of Florida. The guy puts in work.

But even with a passion to start on a new backyard project, there were no clear instructions available or indicators on how to get started. “I knew that I wanted to add to the ecosystem of the land. That meant no mass alterations or land gradings were going to take place. I was fortunate enough to have a property that, after being previously littered with debris and fire friendly brush, was a place I could manicure into a little backyard dream.”

It was also important to Alterman to not use any chemicals or harmful approaches when developing the land. “I was fanatical about not doing anything to harm the geology. I hired a geologist and biologist to ensure nothing harmful was done but more support was given to the property and land. Look, this could have cost somebody a million bucks if they really wanted to do it, but the cost came in way, way below that because I wanted to do it a certain way that had my touch.”

It was a weed-infested dry, dead vineyard.

That way included a skeleton crew of one or two guys that were left over from clearing the vineyard debris, Greg, a shovel and a rake. “Being in the sun and doing this was therapeutic.” A humble approach even after doing it for six months. Alterman designed the entire thing himself with an elementary design program that he taught himself how to use on his laptop. The entire concept is built to challenge the most advanced golfer, while still being fun for guests that come over to the house. It is an unexpected pleasure to find with equally unexpected views to match.

We cannot confirm if this labor of love had an ’80s’ movie montage of the course coming together, but if it did the dump truck full of sand being delivered, Tom Hanks doing push-ups in the background, thousands of trips carrying items by hand down to the course, installing low voltage lights so he can play at night, and the dozens of trips to Home Depot would be part of the highlight reel.

“90 percent of my property wasn’t being used before this came around. It was a weed-infested dry, dead vineyard and now I‘ve turned it into a useable and safer space.” Greg does not claim that this is a traditional course by any means, but with two world-class greens and multiple areas to tee off from, this pitch and putt oasis boasts 40-, 60- and 70-yard challenges, plus infinite other, “Okay, let’s go from right here to that green over there” combinations. Better than a pool any day of the week.

The end result speaks for itself. “I can now go down there with my 60-degree sand wedge and be lost for hours. Sometimes I bring a glass of wine.”

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Danielle Bergh