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.
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.
Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2023 Farmers Insurance Open
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
More Max Homa WITBs
- Max Homa WITB 2022 (July)
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2022 Wells Fargo Championship
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2021 Fortinet Championship
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2021 Genesis Invitational
- Max Homa WITB 2021 (January)
- Max Homa WITB 2020
- Max Homa’s winning WITB: 2019 Wells Fargo Championship
- Max Homa WITB 2017
- Max Homa WITB 2013
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