In 2008, former Oakland A’s pitcher Weston Weber and his wife, Gina, sold Southwest Greens, the synthetic golf green company they had established 12 years before. Once out of it, they found they missed the business, so after waiting out a contractual five-year non-compete period, the Webers got back in, forming Celebrity Greens, a name suggested by Gina after they received a list of celebrities interested in back-yard golf greens. Based in Scottsdale since 2014, Celebrity Greens is now a major force nationally, the chief competition to industry leader Southwest Greens. The difference this time, Weber says, is that they’re not just building back-yard greens, they’re building back-yard holes. Weber insists his present synthetic greens are the best he’s ever done because they will hold full pitch shots. He’s big on research & development, working with a turf manufacturer to create new blends that look and play like real grass. His favorite turf is now his “first cut,” used as fringes around greens. Golfers can chip or putt off of it, he says, and it’s durable. He also takes pride in the individuality he strives to create in each green. Even in small backyard greens, he says, he can provide straight putts as well as putts that break in both directions, not by canting the green in a single direction, but by building subtle, realistic undulations within the putting surface. Prices depend upon the scope of the project. For details, see celebritygreens.com
Previously our sole Editors’ Choice in this category since 2016, Southwest Greens continues to be the largest company in the back-yard green business, thanks in part to its extensive franchise operation, its endorsement by a number of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players and its exclusive contract with Nicklaus Design for custom-designed putting surfaces. Indeed, Golf Digest had a Nicklaus-designed putting green in our main lobby for several years, a popular site of many a lunchtime and late-afternoon match. Alas, our offices have since moved but the green did not. Southwest has long offered a wide range of synthetic turfs in terms of composition and shades of green. In recent years, it has expanded into the arena of short courses (pitch & putt and par 3), thus far with mixed reviews. Lack of receptiveness of greens is the main concern by a few consumers we’ve talked to, but that’s a common complaint of new grass greens as well. Southwest hasn’t revealed what R&D it’s engaged in, but we suspect it is addressing that issue. For product details, see southwestgreens.com.