Part preacher, part inspirational speaker and part humorist, oilman Steve Baker -- and now half the duo that owns the Brownwood Country Club -- lit up an audience Friday as he talked about his background, the oil business and the Brownwood community as he sees it.
Baker and his wife, Vicky, are natives of Kingfisher, Okla. and were Midland residents when they bought the country club late last year.
The two met at Kingfisher High School in 1971, and have been married for 40 years. They have five children ranging in age from 21-39 and 10 grandchildren.
After graduating from Kingfisher High School in 1970, Steve Baker earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Oklahoma State University and went to work for Texaco in Sweetwater. Baker also worked with Texas Oil and Gas before becoming an independent consultant. Baker became an independent oil operator in 1985.
His hobbies include playing the piano and guitar and hunting.
Baker -- who also pastors a small church in Odessa -- referred to scripture a couple of times as he talked at the monthly membership meeting of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
“I’ve been very blessed,” Baker said. “I'm just an old farm boy from Oklahoma. I learned how to work hard at a young age.”
Drawing laughter several times as he spoke, Baker said owning a country club and planning extensive improvements has been his wife‘s vision.
“So here we are in this country club, which is rather an odd venture for me,” Baker said. “My wife saw the vision way before I did, and I was very reluctant to get in this because I don't even play golf, I’ve never been a member of any country club, I don't have a clue what we're doing … but I do know enough about business to spot an opportunity.
“This whole thing is really kind of about my wife, actually. My wife found this club and it's her vision that you see unfolding. I'm blessed to be able to be apart of that and write some checks.”
After laughter subsided, Baker continued, explaining it was his wife‘s opportunity “to sort of express herself. Pretty amazing stuff. I'm kind of surprised myself.”
Baker rhetorically asked what the improvements to the country club mean to its members.
"Well, let’s keep it simple,” Baker said. “Solomon, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes … said everybody needs something to eat and drink. you need something to wear. you need something to wear, you need something to do, and then you need a little time off to enjoy it.
“ … This falls into that category because everybody needs a little time off … ”
Baker described Brownwood as “a breath of fresh air” compared with the larger cities and communities that are being transformed by the current oil boom.
"Brownwood is, interestingly, located just far enough out of the mainstream oil to still be a resort destination,” Baker said. “I don't think we want Brownwood to be in the middle of the oil business. We want it close so we can provide services but I don't think we want it in our back yard.
“ … You've got San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Abilene, San Angelo, Midland-Odessa … you are in the middle of a tremendous amount of people and believe me people in these places want nothing more than to get out of those places, to go have a nice destination."