From my kitchen table to an awards stand in Portugal…
We’re a family company. I started H&B on my kitchen table in 1991 after a twenty year career as a university academic and administrator. My son, John, joined in 2005 after graduating from West Point, serving as a captain in the Army and working as a quality engineer.
When I started H&B, my idea of what my new company should do was based mostly on what the golf travel companies which sold Scotland back then weren’t doing. Basically, they did little more than offer pre-planned packages with specific lists of golf courses to which you added a luxury, mid range or budget accommodations option then decided whether you wanted the self drive or a driver. Most everything else about your trip from where you dined to what you saw off the course was do-it-yourself.
But my trips across the pond were always as much about getting in touch with the people, culture and cuisine of my destination as they were about playing great golf. And I saw no reason why international golf travelers shouldn’t be able to plan their itineraries from scratch, picking the unique combination of golf courses, accommodations, sights to see, places to explore, restaurants, etc. that fit their expectations precisely. Moreover, I didn’t want to do it myself by spending hours reading through guidebooks (in those ancient days before the worldwide web). I wanted to be guided through my choices by an expert and waited on hand and foot every step of the way from planning to preparation to traveling. Vacations shouldn’t be work; they should be all about relaxing and having fun.
While I was convinced there were others out there like me equally frustrated by the lack of choices and mediocre service in international golf travel, I had no idea whether my compatriots throughout the U.S. (and thereby my potential market) numbered three hundred or three million. The other members of my Cincinnati country club who soldier as consumer marketers for Proctor & Gamble were appalled that I was launching a new company with virtually no market research. As they saw it, I was starting the golf travel equivalent of Field of Dreams—build it and they will come—which is not exactly the P&G way of rolling out a new product.
Well, we built it and, as the ensuing years have shown, were lucky to have guessed correctly. Golfers have come to us by the thousands and referred their family, friends and associates to us by the hundreds.
It turns out the H&B way is especially appealing to country club members. These are people who’ve chosen to pay a bit more to play their golf at a place where they receive so much more than just golf and they choose the Haversham & Baker experience for exactly the same reason. Better than 97% of our clients belong to private clubs and they represent more than 1100 different clubs located throughout North America.
It also turns out that the quality of our services is recognized not only by our travelers but also by our peers. H&B is the only American based company ever to be voted Tour Operator of the Year by the members of Golf Tourism Scotland; not once but twice. In 2014, we were named The World’s Best Golf Tour Operator by the World Golf Awards, joining Peter Alliss and Paul McGinley on the major award winner’s stand. In 2015 at a ceremony in the Portuguese Algarve, we won the award a second time.
That doesn’t mean we’re the best choice for everyone. Those golfers who want to play as much golf as humanly possible and don’t care less where they sleep or eat should surf the internet and make their arrangements themselves.
We’re also not for those who want to play golf overseas in the worst way and want to do it as cheaply as possible. There are plenty of other companies out there who can help them achieve both objectives.
Our company is for those who care about every aspect of their travel experience; who don’t want to waste a moment on that which isn’t of interest to them; who want to be waited on hand and foot from planning through preparation to actual travel; who understand the difference between price and value—and choose value every time.
If you and your traveling companions are among those discerning individuals, we’d welcome you as members of the Haversham & Baker Expeditionary Forces.
Sam Baker Founder & Chairman Haversham & Baker Golfing Expeditions