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GolfWRX Q&A: Holderness & Bourne

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In the world of golf apparel, few brands have so rapidly established clout in top golf shops as Holderness & Bourne. The company, which was founded in 2015 by Alex Holderness and John Bourne, can be found in the golf shops of more than 90 percent of the top 100 golf courses in the country. You’ll see plenty of Holderness & Bourne at high-level amateur competitions and filling the lockers of the Instagram golf tastemakers of the world.

So, what’s working so well? With their flagship polos, Holderness & Bourne are masters of the intersection between classic styles and modern fits and materials. As we wrote of H&B previously, the company sought to occupy a space between the dull, oversized shirts often found in country clubs and the slim-fitting garishness of some European brands and companies targeting younger golfers. They are, without a doubt, succeeding.

We wanted to check in with the company’s founding duo and dig a little deeper into who the “Holderness” and “Bourne” behind Holderness & Bourne are.

Alex Holderness (L) and John Bourne (R)

GolfWRX: Gents, it’s been 4 years. What’s been going on?

Holderness & Bourne: It has been a while, and thanks for reaching back out. From a brand perspective, our mission and strategy as a golf focused company has remained the same since we last chatted in 2018. A special brand found in special places within the game. What has changed however is the number of special places you can find Holderness & Bourne. We are proud to say that currently our stockist list is north of 1,000 golf clubs and resorts worldwide.

We have benefited from golf’s recent resurgence like many other brands and have been grateful to all of our partners for continuing to believe in the brand and our product lines. We’re having fun building this business and have been focused on growing both our team and our operational muscle. One thing that we’re proud of along with our attention to product quality and fit is our ability to service our customers with speed and efficiency. Over the past few years we have invested in additional embroidery machinery and capacity, which allows us to act fast and take complete ownership of the entire custom logo process.

On the product front we have been adding new styles but only when we are completely happy with them from a design and durability point of view. We’ve kept to the guiding principle of better fitting classics and have designed shirts, layers, belts, and now bottoms that deserve to exist in the world. We have always taken the approach that if we as golfers wouldn’t wear a specific style we won’t launch it into the market.

Overall, this will be our eighth year as a company, but we feel we’re still on the front nine of this journey.

GolfWRX: In my opinion, you guys have mastered the golf shirt and hit all the right notes. I know you were dissatisfied with market offerings, and from your growth, clearly plenty shared the opinion. Can you speak to that?

H&B: We were playing a lot of golf together while in business school at Yale and became increasingly aware of the lack of great fitting shirt options. The golf apparel market during this time around 2010-11 was totally different. There wasn’t really a group of brands nailing a sharp look for guys that could transition off the course. It was dominated by companies with a loose baggy cut and knit collars that laid flat, which we didn’t like. We both had an affinity for classic menswear and just thought why don’t we bring more of a tailoring ethos into this category, given what we know.

GolfWRX: I was discussing H&B a while back and they asked me if there was actually a Holderness and a Bourne. I confirmed indeed there was. Can you tell me a little more about you guys and the history of the company?

H&B: Yes, there are actual people behind the name — Alex Holderness and John Bourne to be exact! From day one we made the decision to put our names on the door like the old tailoring houses in England. It gives us an increased sense of responsibility for everything that is associated with the brand. When the company has your name on it you can’t help but care about everything just a bit more.

Before the brand, we met while working towards our MBA’s at Yale. The course at Yale was where our friendship started to take form. We were lucky to have a classic C.B. Macdonald gem to play at our disposal and took full advantage of the student rate. Conversations about all things golf — including golf style —  cemented our friendship during those years. Neither of us came from an apparel background but we understood what it meant to dress well and put yourself together in a thoughtful way. This strong viewpoint of what was in our closets led to the frustration of golf shirt offerings in the pro shops we frequented.

After graduation, we both took jobs in finance, but we kept in touch and played golf on weekends whenever we got the chance. It wasn’t until around 2015 after a few more years in the corporate world that we quit those jobs and took a chance with this brand.

During those early days we spent a lot of time in New York’s garment district. We wanted to learn the ins and outs of made in America fabrics and all steps involved with apparel manufacturing. Looking back, the time we spent at these factories was critical for the business and gave us much needed insight that we would leverage when building the brand.

Our headquarters from 2015-2018 was a tight one-room office in the Flatiron in New York City with just a handful of shirt styles. We obsessed over these products with our factory at the time and truly believed we had something different. A golf shirt with a sharper collar that actually fit well. Being based in Manhattan, we were lucky enough to be a short drive away from some of the best golf clubs in the country. Taking advantage of this location was a priority, and so we started with one of the best, Winged Foot.

Grant Sturgeon, now the head golf professional at Arcola Country Club, was Winged Foot’s top assistant at the time and was nice enough to roll the dice on a first order with us. From there a few other clubs in the Met Section jumped on board: Wykagyl Country Club, Greenwich Country Club, and Somerset Hills Country Club. Those clubs all sold through their first orders quickly and got a positive response from their members — if they hadn’t we probably wouldn’t be where we are today! With that early traction, the business started to take shape mostly via word of mouth and gained a lot of momentum in the New York area over the next few years.

Fast forward eight years, and the H&B team has grown to over 50 employees with a product offering of more than 300 SKUs. We have been lucky enough to form relationships across the country by way of our hard working and passionate sales team who are the front lines for us. One talking point we always focus on is quality product with customer service to match it. Without one the other doesn’t matter.

GolfWRX: I know your wares are carried in something like 90 percent of top 100 courses. Obviously, that’s good for business, but can you speak to why you feel there’s that level of enthusiasm in at top courses?

H&B: We’re firmly in the top 10 and certainly 90 percent plus of the top 100 golf facilities in the U.S. We’re a true golfer’s brand and these are the places that draw those guys in. The clubs and resorts that make it into the top 100 are there for a reason and they expect the best. Their members and guests expect an elevated experience when they walk into the shop. We have strived hard from the beginning to provide the best product we possibly can using the best materials and trims in the market while offering the consumer a tasteful, rather than tacky, shirt or pullover. We have made a strong effort to minimize any H&B branding on our product with the intent of putting the emphasis on the club or resort’s logo. An attention to quality, classic styling, and modern fit have earned us shop space at these great properties.

GolfWRX: What’s next for H&B?

H&B: We are a relatively recent entrant into the bottoms category but as of Fall ’22 (shipping now) we have one short and one pant style: The Carter Short and The Warner Pant. Both styles utilize the same cotton/performance blend fabric for a “best of all worlds” product. It looks and feels like a lightweight cotton twill chino, but the performance yarns woven into the fabric provide moisture wicking, shape retention, and stretch properties that golfers need. We’ve styled the pant with a contemporary five-pocket front while keeping classic chino-style jetted pockets in the back. Both the short and the pant have stretch waistbands, non-slip rubber waist linings, and other features designed with golfers in mind. The opportunity for a brand like H&B in the pants category is to provide styles that perform on the golf course but look appropriate elsewhere. Versatility is the name of the game.

On the business front, currently our headquarters are on the second floor of a charming old Victorian house in downtown Rye, New York. Although full of character, the space is just too small for the team we’ve built and are building for the future. We have plans to move to a larger facility in Armonk, New York, which would bring both our corporate team and warehouse operation together under the same roof. This is a big steppingstone for the brand and will allow us to continue growing for years to come.

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GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jamho3

    Nov 14, 2022 at 4:15 am

    Same as everything else just “less.”

    OK.

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Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2023 Farmers Insurance Open

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (10 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black 65 TX

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (16.5 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue TR 8 X

7-wood: Titleist TSR2 (21 degrees, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 9 TX

Irons: Titleist T100S (4), T100 (5), Titleist 620 MB (6-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour $-Taper 130 X

Wedges: Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 50-12F, 56-14F, 60-04L)
Shafts: KBS TOUR $-Taper 130 X (46), KBS Hi Rev 2.0 125 S (56-60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron T-5.5 prototype

Ball: 2023 Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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Morning 9: Ryder in front at Torrey | McIlroy-Reed showdown in Dubai? | Anthony Kim return talk

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 27, 2023

Good Friday morning, golf fans.

1. Ryder leads Farmers by 3

AP report…”Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round Thursday on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.”

  • “Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.”
  • “The Santa Ana wind blowing out of the desert and down the mountains raked the course most of the day, with gusts up to 30 mph. It sent leaves, branches and even a tumbleweed onto greens, and cardboard trash cans tumbling down hillsides.”
Full piece.

2. Rahm rallies for Farmers cut

Ryan Young for Yahoo…”For a long time on Thursday, it looked as if Jon Rahm’s hot streak was over.”

  • “Thankfully for the Spaniard, his quest for a third win in three starts is still alive.”
  • “Rahm snuck past the cut on Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open, thanks largely to a huge eagle on his back nine after struggling through the first round and a half at Torrey Pines in San Diego.”
  • “He’s at 4-under for the week, eight shots back of the lead, with the projected cut at even par.”
Full piece.

3. In Dubai, potential McIlroy-Reed showdown shaping up?

4. Reed-McIlroy frostiness thawing?

James Corrigan for the Telegraph…”Without McIlroy’s generous advice, Reed would have been at Majlis Course six hours before he needed to be.”

  • “I woke up at 5am and was on my way to get a car to get here for my 7.40am tee-off time,” Reed explained. “I hadn’t seen that play had been suspended while they got all the water off the course after the storms. But when we were on steps of the hotel where we are both staying, Rory came up and said ‘you don’t have to go yet, we aren’t playing for a while’. ‘Ok, thanks,’ I said.”
  • “So, I went back to bed. It’s nice to think that this means that it’s all good again between me and Rory, but I was with my caddie and coach at the time, so he might have been telling them. Yet I’ve taken it as a little victory. It was nice to move on from all that today. I’ve seen they’ve labelled it ‘Teegate’, as if it was an assassination or something. It was built out of all proportion.”
Full piece.

5. Talking an Anthony Kim return in the New York Times

Our Matt Vincenzi…Despite having not played in over a decade, the golf world has an obsession with former PGA Tour star, Anthony Kim.

“Kim shined at the 2008 Ryder Cup, earning 2.5 points in the event which was tied for the second-best performance on the U.S. side. “AK” played with Phil Mickelson in fourball and was the first man out in Sunday singles matches where he defeated Sergio Garcia 5&4. At the time of the Ryder Cup, Kim was the number 10 ranked player in the world as a Tour rookie. He went on to win three times on Tour from 2008-2010.”

  • “After a New York Times piece on the fascinating story of Anthony Kim, he’s found himself back in the headlines.”
  • “According to Kim’s former caddie Eric Larson, the now 37-year-old hasn’t ruled out a return to the game. Larson had a recent phone call with Kim and asked if he’d be open to a deal with LIV Golf.”
  • “Larson told the New York Times, “He goes, ‘I don’t know. I really don’t know.’” Larson said. “I said, ‘Come on, man, get the old clubs out. Go out there and have some fun.’ And he starts laughing at me. He goes, ‘That’s what everybody wants me to do!’”
  • “Also in the piece was a quote from AK’s longtime swing coach Adam Schriber who said Kim still has “the same swing you remember”, after playing with him twice over the past two years.”
Full piece.
7. PGA Show

  • Check out all our photos from Orlando, below.
Full Piece.
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Morning 9: Teegate | Rahmpage | JT on Saturday finish | PGA Show

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By Ben Alberstadt with Gianni Magliocco and Matthew Vincenzi.

For comments: [email protected]

January 25, 2023

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans. It’s day 1 of the PGA Show in Orlando. Stay tuned to the front page, forums, and our social channels.

1. Teegate

Brian Keogh for the Irish Independent…”Patrick Reed threw a tee at Rory McIlroy in disgust after the world number one appeared to ignore his efforts to say hello at the Emirates Golf Club, according to reports.”

  • “The former Masters champion, who has moved to LIV Golf but continues to play DP World Tour events until an arbitration case being held in the UK in a fortnight decides on the Tour’s ability to suspend the rebels, saluted McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond without incident, according to the Spanish golf portal TenGolf.com.”
  • “Reed, whose defamation case against analyst Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel was dismissed Friday by a federal judge in Florida, then approached McIlroy, who was on his hunkers at the time, looking at the ground.”
  • “Reed stood near McIlroy a few seconds with the intention of saying hello but McIlroy did not even turn his head towards him.”
  • “Reed insisted in saluting McIlroy but after getting no response, he gave up and walked away but not before putting his hand in his pocket and throwing a tee in McIlroy’s direction in disgust.”
Full piece.

2. JT praises Saturday finish

Colby Powell for Golf Channel…”Reviews about a Saturday finish on the PGA Tour are mixed, but Justin Thomas loved the change when it was implemented for the first time at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open.”

  • “It was incredible, I got to watch football on Sunday,” Thomas said. “I was ecstatic about it. Even so much so that I pushed the Tour that we do it during the entire playoffs because I love football and I love watching football.”
  • “While the Tour didn’t suddenly move every early-season tournament to a Saturday finish, the move seems to have stuck at the Farmers, which is played the same week as the NFC and AFC Championship games.”
Full piece.

3. Remembering JD at the Farmers in ’04

Max Schreiber for Golf Channel…”It had been a very bumpy road for Daly since his improbable victory at St. Andrews’ 1995 Open Championship, battling through more divorce and additional alcohol rehab.”

  • “But at the 2004 Buick Invitational, he ended a nine-year winless drought in typical Daly fashion.“
  • “Ranked No. 299 in the world at the beginning of the week, the two-time major champion, despite a final-round 75, found himself in a playoff with Chris Riley and Luke Donald.”
  • “On the first playoff hole, Daly hit a 100-foot bunker shot that landed just feet from the hole and he tapped in for birdie. Riley and Donald then missed both their birdie putts from inside 6 feet and Daly was once again back in the winner’s circle.”
Full piece.

4. Rahm approaching a Woodsian feat

Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”The 28-year-old has won four of his last six events, including his last two starts on the PGA Tour at last week’s American Express and the season-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks prior. This week Rahm is in the Farmers Insurance Open field at Torrey Pines in San Diego and is looking for a rare three-peat.”

  • “If Rahm is able to win again, it’ll be the 19th time since 1997 that a player has won three straight Tour starts. But wait, what’s so rare about something that’s already happened 18 times over less than 26 years? According to stats guru Justin Ray, Tiger Woods accounts for 14 of the 18 trifectas.”
Full piece.

5. Enhancements to the PGA Tour’s Betting Integrity Program

PGATour.com staff report…”The PGA TOUR today announced two new agreements that will enhance monitoring capabilities as part of an expanded PGA TOUR Integrity Program. A new partnership with U.S. Integrity, paired with an extension of the TOUR’s existing relationship with Genius Sports, will provide the organization with best-in-class bet monitoring services through 2024.”

  • “U.S. Integrity is proud to partner with the PGA TOUR and assist with maintaining the integrity of its golf competition across the world,” said U.S. Integrity’s CEO and Co-Founder Matthew Holt. “U.S. Integrity’s mission is to provide conflict-free, best-in-class insights and compliance solutions to our clients. We are looking forward to working with the premier golf tour in the world, featuring the biggest names. All our partners are committed to the highest integrity standards, and they are no exception. These types of partnerships help ensure sports betting integrity and strengthen the unique and proprietary anomaly-detection tools we have developed at U.S. Integrity.”
  • “The PGA TOUR Integrity Program, established January 1, 2018, covers all facets of competition and operations on the Tours overseen by the PGA TOUR, including players and their support teams, all tournament staff and volunteers, all PGA TOUR employees and the PGA TOUR Policy Board.”
Full piece.

6. On notice

The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”The 28-year-old Spaniard has won four his last six starts worldwide over the last three months, including his two PGA Tour events this month on courses — Maui mountain, California desert — that couldn’t be more different.”

  • “He won in Spain by six shots and the DP World Tour Championship by two in the fall. He started the new year on the PGA Tour by closing with a 63 to overcome a seven-shot deficit against Collin Morikawa at Kapalua, and then holding off a spirited challenge from Thompson in The American Express.”
  • “Next up is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, one of his favorite places even before he won the U.S. Open. Rahm won his first PGA Tour event at Torrey in 2017, and twice in the last three years he has missed a playoff by one shot.”
Full piece.

7. PGA Show

Full Piece.
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