Weston Weber is the master of the synthetic golf green. In the 1990s, Weber pioneered the golf green industry perfecting the use of synthetic turf, building a reputation for exceptional attention to the aesthetics, scale and complexity of the design, the quality of the materials and the installation technology. Today, he is considered the industry’s leading expert with an impressive history of designing and building championship-level short courses and putting greens for more than 70 PGA Tour professionals and exclusive golf greens for private residences and commercial use.
Prior to founding Celebrity Greens®, Weber was founder and president of a company that dominated the domestic synthetic turf market and golf green industry. When he sold his company in 2008, it was the largest synthetic golf green company in the world with 93 franchises in 17 countries on 4 continents. Weber has personally sold, designed and installed more than 3,000 custom putting greens, lawns and artificial turf projects, and more than 75 business executives, celebrities, and PGA pros have endorsed him personally, his company and his work.
After a 6 year hiatus, he has returned to the golf green business. His love of designing and installing the very best golf greens in the world led him to found Celebrity Greens® with the express purpose of working with a selective clientele. He has teamed with seasoned experts in championship golf course design and construction, business executives and celebrities to launch CG.
When you call Celebrity Greens®, you will be working personally with Weston Weber, the best in the game. “Our greens are “golf tested” and designed for the way our clientele play the game and live their lives. Our goal is to help our clients realize their dream greens.”
Weston Weber has personally designed signature greens for:
Sir Nick Faldo
Daniel Tosh (Tosh.o)
Samuel L Jackson
Mickelson Golf Properties
Discovery Land Properties
Arizona State University
Bowling Green State University
University of Illinois
Hotel Del Coronado
Terranea Hotel and Resort
Sanctuary Resort on Camelback
Scottsdale Plaza Resort
UBS (Rockefeller Center)
IMI (Pebble Beach)
Golf Course Architecture
Our team of golf shapers and turf experts have worked on some of the most notable golf projects and with golf course architects Jack Nicklaus, Tom Lehmann, Fazio Design, Tom Weiskopf, Phil Mickelson, to name a few.
An Interview with Weston Weber, cofounder of Celebrity Greens
Weston, you have an interesting background. Could you talk about your career in athletics and why you left professional baseball?
I guess you say that I have been involved in athletics all of my life. I was drafted as a pitcher by the Oakland A’s in 1986 and played 11 seasons of professional baseball before a career ending shoulder injury in 1996. I was introduced to the idea of designing and installing synthetic golf greens by a teammate who was working with another local company during the baseball strike of 1995. I immediately liked the idea and saw tremendous opportunity and value in offering golf enthusiasts a way to play and improve their games in the comfort and privacy of their homes. When I left the game, I contacted my former teammate, who ironically was injured that same season. In August of 1996 we formed a company called Southwest Greens or SWG. As pioneers in this business, we quickly realized that there was large and growing market for synthetic golf greens and other athletic surfaces. We were right. Our start-up turned into global business with over 90 franchise operations in 17 countries on 4 continents.
Talk a bit about the early days in the synthetic golf green business in Arizona? What was it like?
In the beginning it was very challenging because we were new to the business and the whole golf green industry itself was brand new. Only a few companies were installing artificial putting surfaces. I have to laugh because we really were green. None of us had construction experience. Two of the partners were still playing baseball so they could only devote time to the business part of the year. The internet was just beginning to get traction so no one could Google us. In order to reach our target audience, we had to advertise and find creative ways to get our message out. With each green we sold, we invested more in marketing the business. We lived lean for a while.
There were two important lessons that I learned in the early days. One, you have to really know your business and be able to articulate its value. Second, attention to detail in this business is critical. It took a lot of explaining when we entered the market because potential customers thought we were selling “putt putt ” golf. They envisioned indoor outdoor carpet on top of cement not the sophisticated blend of technology and construction that was our product. Pricing was also an issue with customers because our product was so new that we couldn’t point to a track record of performance. There was no point of comparison. We had to educate the customer on the value proposition, the quality of the product and our ability to design and construct a playing surface that would exceed their expectations. It was a challenge.
You built a global business designing and installing synthetic golf greens and other surfaces. What were some of your most challenging projects?
No question that my most challenging project was building a 9 hole putting course at The Westin Regina in Cabo San Lucas. There was no access to the project site. We literally had to walk wheel barrows of base material down a windy sidewalk path about a quarter of a mile to reach the site—and the only time we could access the path was from 1 to 5 o’clock in the morning. We had four working hours to transport materials from the top of the hotel to the bottom pool area where we were installing the course. It was 110 degrees and humid the entire time we were there so my crew was really put to the test. Just imagine transporting by hand in a wheel barrow one at a time 100 tons of base material, 20 rolls of artificial turf that weighed about 500 pounds each, and 300 100 pound bags of sand, plus all the equipment. All in a good night’s work. I don’t think the guests had a clue what was going on while they were sleeping.
Another challenge was Sergio Garcia’s green in Valencia Spain. We had to fly the custom turf order to his residence in Valencia from our manufacturer in Georgia. The challenge was getting the turf through customs, which took the better part of day. We also had to source and transport silica sand in France for his green. I’ve been asked if it’s hard to build golf greens for professional golfers. In this case, it was the logistics that proved challenging. You have to be prepared to make it work in this business because the customer is depending on you to deliver the finest quality golf green—even if it takes extraordinary measures to expedite turf in the customs office of a foreign country.
You’ve designed and installed golf greens for more than 70 PGA golfers. Can you give us the inside story on what it was like to work with professional golfers? What were they looking for in a golf green?
It is one of the best parts of being in this business because golf and putting are how they make a living. My job was to make very sure that the putting surface was perfect—built and maintained to exacting standards. To the person, they were great to work with and treated my team with tremendous respect. They realized the value of our greens and how we were fanatics about delivering a surface that could make a difference in their game. I think the fact that this is physically demanding work often gets overlooked, but the pros realized what it requires to produce a green of this caliber. They were really appreciative.
It was interesting to note that the pros were most concerned with having 4-8 foot putts that rolled very true and at speeds of 11-12 on the stimpmeter. A few of them asked for specific green contours like an 8 foot putt that would break 4 inches right to left. I found out that in those cases, the pro was wanting a specific putt that he had missed in a tournament. One pro told me the specific putt he was asking for was one that had cost him a tourney and $500K. This is serious business.
I have always been proud of the fact that the pros call me to build their practice greens. Vijay Singh had a $10 million dollar year after I installed his green. That was a high point for me because I knew we had given him the edge with a golf surface that delivered a consistent roll and at the speed he felt he needed to nail it on the tour.
After a six year hiatus, you are back in the business. What moved you to start Celebrity Greens®?
Over those 6 years, I’ve launched other successful business ventures, but I missed this business. I continuously had friends of mine tell me that I should return to it because of “what I know” and “what I can bring to the table.” My decision to start Celebrity Greens® was the result of a visit to a friend’s property to give him advice on building a custom green. He was no stranger to the game, having done some work with me for “Sports Illustrated” at the Masters several years ago. When I was leaving, he said, “Why don’t you get back in the business and start a company that focuses on high-end projects serving an elite clientele?” It made sense. That part of the market was precisely where I wanted to be. I guess you can say that Celebrity Greens® was the result of a friendly but frank conversation. I know there is growing demand for high-end custom projects in which the clientele is looking for the best and is willing to invest in it. Celebrity Greens® is positioned to provide that level of service.
You are considered a true innovator and leading expert in this business. What advice would you give to someone interested in designing and building a luxury golfing experience at his or her estate or vacation home? What should a client look for in selecting a firm to handle this kind of estate development project?
I think you have to select a firm that has the experience and expertise to handle the scope of the project and one that offers only the finest turf, sand infill and installation techniques. Projects of this scale require a level of expertise that is unique in the business. This is not a backyard golf green; this is an estate development project. The final product has to be aesthetically appealing, perform like a natural course or golf green and often meet very tight specifications. It is also important to be able to rely on a firm to maintain it and make improvements if that’s a part of the plan. There’s no question that clients should ask for a portfolio of past projects and references. We have no doubt that they will be impressed with Celebrity Greens®.
Gina Weber is co-founder of Celebrity Greens®. In addition to managing the operations of Celebrity Greens and their growing dealer network, Weber operates Panther Marketing which she founded in 1999. What started out as a traditional marketing firm has become a digital powerhouse, offering clients a comprehensive set of services, including digital and mobile marketing, social media and content creation. Weber has extensive institutional knowledge of the synthetic turf business, having directed global marketing for Southwest Greens, a company founded by Weston Weber and sold in 2008. Today she directs all the branding and marketing efforts for Celebrity Greens and its growing network of international dealers.
Weber is a seasoned marketing executive and entrepreneur. Her career began in product and sports marketing with a Fortune 100 company where she spent more than a decade developing national programs and leading the company’s motorsports department. In 1999, she founded Panther Marketing, the first of several successful companies that she has built and directed, including two enterprises with her husband and cofounder of Celebrity Greens, Weston Weber. For more than 25 years, she has established an impressive record of achievements for her companies and her clients. Her knowledge and expertise of strategic marketing and sales has transformed small start-ups into global franchises and successfully positioned others for public offering. She has the unique ability to learn the business quickly, aggressively market it and turn it into a top sales producer. Weber is recognized in the sports marketing arena as a smart negotiator and innovator, leading multi-million dollar sports promotion programs for two global companies, Honeywell and Action Performance Companies, Inc. involving NASCAR, NHRA, MLB, NHL, NBA, USGA, NCAA and more. In addition, she has advised and directed marketing programs and projects for Fortune 100 companies, including Allied-Signal, Coca-Cola, Ford, General Motors, Castrol, Raytheon, Home Depot, Shell Oil, Johnson & Johnson, Texaco-Havoline, and several entertainment companies including Universal Studios, DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Elvis Presley Enterprises & DC Comics. www.panthermarketing.com
An Interview with Gina Weber, Cofounder of Celebrity Greens
Gina, you have an extensive background in both brand management and sports marketing. How has that experience shaped the way you’ve launched and positioned Celebrity Greens in the marketplace?
I’ve been fortunate to have worked on some of the most successful and respected brands in the automotive and consumer packaged goods industries and led brand building for a large Fortune 100 corporation in sports marketing that included a presence in NASCAR, the NBA, MLB, NHL and the NCAA. Those years prepared me to launch and quickly position several companies since I founded Panther Marketing and bring all of that experience to bear on the successful branding of Celebrity Greens. Today, branding is far more complicated than creating a one way message platform. It’s creating a meaningful, engaging conversation in the market and with the customer based on a compelling story about the company and the product. The foundation of our story is that we are the best of the best. We don’t compete, we dominate. We bring the highest level of expertise to each and every golf green we design and build for our clientele, no exceptions. Defining “exceptional” and being able to convey it in every aspect of our business drives Celebrity Greens. It is our reason for being. It is our story.
Naming a company often is a challenge. Tell us why you selected the name Celebrity Greens?
No question, naming a company is a challenge and it should reflect the essence of who you are and what you do. Celebrity Greens was a perfect fit because we want to be known and respected throughout the industry as the preeminent synthetic turf and installation company in the world. The definition of celebrity means to be well known. And, my job as the company’s chief marketer is to make that happen. Establishing a successful brand begins with establishing a stellar reputation. It has a lot to do with what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.
We are proud of the fact that we have an exceptional list of clients that includes celebrities and pro golfers, but we believe that our golf greens and other synthetic turf projects achieve that celebrity status because they are absolutely the finest in the industry. And, everyone in the market for a synthetic turf golf green, lawn or other surface deserves the best.
You said that every company and every brand has a story to tell. Can you expand on your story?
Role models are incredibly important in business. They define behavior, attitude and the measure of success. Often their power is aspirational. When we founded Celebrity Greens, we looked for an organization that we held in the highest respect and wanted to emulate. If you were to select a group that represents the best of the best, it would be the United States Navy SEALs. The combination of qualities that make a Navy SEAL are extremely rare. They operate at the highest level of expertise and integrity. They are part of an elite club–highly trained, exceptionally skilled and experienced, best equipped and deeply motivated. That is our model. At Celebrity Greens, we have assembled the finest team—an elite squad—and set the highest expectations. Experience, training, attitude, integrity—it all figures into building a rare blend of talent and ability that translates into the best of the best of the best. That is who we aspire to be every single day with every Celebrity Greens customer and supplier.
CG has aligned itself with some of the great names in golf, including Mark O’Meara, Paul Casey, Peter Kostis and Hank Haney. How has that strategy worked for CG?
My years in marketing taught me the value of aligning your company and brand with leaders in the industry like Mark, Paul, Peter and Hank. Endorsements and testimonials are a key part of our marketing effort because of their intrinsic value and the fact that they give a young company like Celebrity Greens immediate credibility and traction in the market. We are very proud of our association with the PGA tour golfers who have hired Celebrity Greens to build their synthetic golf greens. We know that we have achieved a high level of success when we deliver a championship green that meets the tight specifications that a professional golfer expects in practice. Our network of endorsements and associations has contributed to our high rate of referrals, now representing 70 percent of our new business. It’s a winning strategy for everyone.
You’ve experienced tremendous growth in just six years, becoming a North American company with more than 45 partners. What do you attribute it to and how has it affected CG?
I have to say that our accelerated growth has a lot to do with experience. My husband Weston built one of the most successful companies in this industry. My team led the global marketing effort. When we sold it, it was a global business with more than 90 franchise operations in 17 countries on 4 continents. Our growth at Celebrity Greens is a product of our experience in identifying and recruiting the most qualified partners in the synthetic turf industry. We know exactly what we want and expect in selecting our partners and we don’t compromise or make exceptions in the vetting process. Rapid growth in any business can be tricky and we are cognizant of the challenges. We will only grow the business in a way that protects the quality and integrity of the brand.
You talked about the importance of endorsements and testimonials in your marketing mix. What other methods are you using to establish the Celebrity Greens brand?
I am what you would call an aggressive marketer. I don’t take anything for granted and I believe in putting 1000 percent into the marketing effort to provide the tools our partners need to establish the Celebrity Greens brand in their respective markets. Today, that means having a high profile digital presence. We’ve built and optimized more than 100 websites with more in the queue. We are proud of the fact we pushed to have our own category on Yelp, which provides crowd-sourced reviews of our partners’ local businesses. Yelp drives referrals and, as I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of our business is captured through positive recommendations and referrals. We also use national radio, a traditional and very cost effective medium, to gain visibility. We’ve made a substantial radio buy involving the PGA Tour channel on Sirius XM, combining spots and live reads by Mark O’Meara. There’s no better way to reach our target audience. The point I want to make is we don’t take anything for granted in marketing Celebrity Greens. We are always looking for innovative and effective ways to amp up the brand and capture more market share.
If you could sum it up in a few sentences, what distinguishes CG from its competitors?
When we build a synthetic golf green or any surface, we always ask our customers to be home on the day our team completes the project. We do that because we want our customers to experience the high degree of workmanship and precision that goes into their investment. We want them to look over our shoulders to see the transformation that’s possible with a very well-oiled team that operates in an entirely different gear. Our goal is to dominate, not compete and we know that there are no short cuts in this business. The details are the measure of success.
Mark Phillips is Celebrity Green’s National Trainer. Mark’s primary role is training our Dealers on the Celebrity Greens Installation System. Mark is on the road every single week working with our crews throughout North America. Mark started in the installation side of the synthetic turf business in 2007. In 2010, he began advising contractors about synthetic turf products and installation techniques, in addition to selling over the phone, while he continued installing projects in Florida. His next opportunity in 2015 was working with CK Landscape, who is our CG Dealer in Northern CA, and this is where he began leading and managing installation crews.
Soon after, Mark began working with Matt Rauh, also a CG Dealer in Denver, who is considered one of the best synthetic golf green designers in the business. This is where he honed his skills on golf green design and installation for the next 3 years. Celebrity Greens took notice. Mark’s extensive experience positioned him to be the lead trainer for CG. He has held this position since 2018. Mark is a valuable member of CG Team, fluent in Spanish, and the first one our dealers call for any question regarding the CG system. Today Mark is a 4 handicap and he has a passion for golf and golf green design which he brings to the job site every day.
Mark has been on many high profile projects with CG owner, Weston Weber, including the installation of golf greens for Mark O’Meara, Bret Baier, Matt Killen, Ray Allen, George Brett, Herm Edwards and Stetson University.
Mark Hyatt has over 19 years industry experience and is considered one of the best synthetic turf installers in the world. After just two years in the business, Mark began working with the largest synthetic golf green company in the world. Hyatt was hand picked and trained by Weston Weber to be the lead installer for several high profile synthetic turf projects both nationally and internationally and his techniques and work ethic became the benchmark for the company’s installation system. Today, Mark has installed over 4,000 turf installations representing millions of square footage of synthetic turf applications. His experience and expertise is unparalled and Celebrity Greens is proud to have him on the A team.
Hyatt has worked on multiple projects with golf course architects at Nicklaus Design and PGA Touring Professionals such as Fred Couples and dozens of high profile clients including some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, hall of fame athletes, and foreign royalty. His projects have been featured on national landscape television networks and a nationally recognized magazine’s list ranking the top backyards in the country.
Mathew Rauh is a master of high-end artificial grass and putting green design and is based in the Denver, Front Range, and Colorado marketplace. Matt’s background includes over 25 years in golf course design and construction including:
- Education in landscape design, golf course design, and landscape architecture, with a design degree from Bemidji State University and Masters work in Landscape Architecture at CU Denver.
- Construction Superintendent during the design and implementation phases of both Chaparral Pines (Gary Panks and David Graham) and The Rim Club (Tom Wieskoph).
- Design and construction of Echo Basin Golf Club, working in conjunction with the Palmer Design organization.
- Extensive design and installation of commercial and residential applications with artificial grass including highlights of:
– Black Bear Ranch – both indoor and outdoor golf facilities
– Indoor golf facility at The Glacier Club, in Durango, CO
– Creating putting green complexes for personal, individual designs, replicating exciting championship greens.
– Installation of the Denver Bronco’s indoor facility at Dove Valley.
– Career design and construction of over 1 million square feet of high-end artificial putting greens and golf facilities.
Matt is recognized for his ability to replicate championship-level natural grass putting greens and bunkers using superior quality, maintenance-free, artificial grass technology.
Terry Westbrook, a veteran golfer and founder of Green Links, the Houston metro area’s largest synthetic turf company, leads the Celebrity Greens Houston team. Terry’s knowledge and love of golf spans a lifetime of competitive play as an amateur and as a successful business owner in the synthetic turf industry. A graduate the University of Texas with a degree mechanical engineering, Terry began his career in project and account management in process and advanced control systems. In 2002, he returned to golf, founding Green Links, which has designed and built more than 800 golf greens in the Houston area and expanded into a wide variety of synthetic turf applications. His CG Houston team has more than 75 years of experience in the industry.
“We’re proud of the fact our customers include the Houston area’s top golf clubs, professional touring players, the top adult and junior amateurs and hundreds of avid golfers, who enjoy having a signature golf green at their homes. My experience on the course playing the game, maintaining the greens a youngster and learning the business at an early age has been invaluable in establishing expertise in this industry. We know exactly how to manage complex design/build projects, communicate with our customers throughout the process and provide that critical long-term customer support that is essential in maintaining this kind of investment.”