Eight-Time PGA Tour Champion
Barrington, Rhode Island, native son Brad Faxon needs little introduction. He has made all of us very proud with his PGA TOUR prowess, NBC and now FOX broadcasting roles, and charitable endeavors.
Faxon turned pro in 1983 after graduating from Furman with a major in economics. He was an All-American (1982, 1983) and a member of the winning Walker Cup team (1983). He earned the Haskins Award in 1983 as the Most Outstanding Collegiate Golfer. Brad had an admirable amateur career with two Rhode Island amateurs (1979, 1980), two New England amateurs (1980, 1981), and the Sunnehanna Amateur (1982).
He had eight wins on the PGA TOUR, has had two wins on the Champions Tour to date, won the Rhode Island Open (1985), and has 10 other professional wins. These include the Australian Open (1993), five Fred Meyer Challenges (three with Greg Norman and two with Billy Andrade), and two Franklin Templeton Shootouts with Scott McCarron.
Brad still lives in Barrington with his wife Dory, and they have four daughters, Melanie (28), Sophie (21), Emily (24), and Charlotte (15).
Blast Golf and Major Series of Putting
Much of Brad’s success belongs to his impeccable short game and flawless putting stroke. Throughout his career, he has generously shared his theories with other pros and amateurs alike. As a result, Brad has immersed himself this year into two companies: Blast Golf and Major Series of Putting.
Blast Golf has created an easy-to-use analyzer sensor that captures all your putting stroke metrics, helps you analyze the results, and provides drills to improve your timing. The better the timing, the fewer three putts and the more putts made.
MSOP is a brand new year-long qualifying event to determine the best putters around the country. The winners of these qualifiers will then compete in Las Vegas in October at the one-of-a-kind 18-hole putting course by Nicklaus Design in the MSOP Stadium. MSOP gives golfers from all walks of life the opportunity of a lifetime to show off their mastery with a putter and to earn a lucrative payday as MSOP’s inaugural champion.
Brad and good friend Billy Andrade founded their Andrade-Faxon Charities for Children in 1990 to improve the quality of life for local at-risk children. The motto is “Keeping Kids in Play” and has raised more than $7.5 million for its charitable organizations.
CVS Charity Caremark Classic
Brad and Billy are best known as the co-hosts of the CVS Health Charity Classic at the Rhode Island CC since its inception in 1999. The Charity Classic provides support to hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout Southern New England, and since its inception, more than $19 million in grants has been awarded to these worthy charities. The two-person team event always entices top players from the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, and LPGA, and the dates for 2017 are June 19-20.
For their charity work, Brad and Billy were awarded the 1999 Golf Writers Association of America’s Charlie Bartlett Award, given to professional golfers for unselfish contributions to society.
In 2005, Brad received the Payne Stewart Award, presented annually by the PGA TOUR to the player who best exemplifies the values of character, charity, and sportsmanship. Brad was recognized in this manner: “Brad Faxon is the epitome of such a relationship-builder, one who works well with and for other people. When taking a look at his impact, it is the relationships that Faxon has formed in a highly individualistic sport that really make him stand out.”
I had the chance to interview both Brad and Billy at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, and then I spoke with them again at the Champions Tour Allianz Championship in Boca Raton in February. Billy was unequivocal in his praise of his good friend.
“Brad has meant so much to Southern New England golf throughout his career. And off the golf course, he is such a class act. To come from a small town like Barrington and become one of the best golfers in the world is pretty amazing,” Billy said.
“To play on the two Ryder Cup teams [1995, 1997] and to win eight times on the regular PGA TOUR are also impressive. And all the accolades he has received as one of the best putters in the world. Our A-F Foundation has done some great work for a lot of needy children, which is very important to both of us. We’ve always been on the same page when it came to charities in Southern New England with CVS and the A-F Charities for Children. Both of them have been successful beyond our wildest dreams, and it’s terrific that we have been able to have a meaningful impact in our area.”
NEGM: How did you get into golf in the first place?
BF: I was raised in Barrington, Rhode Island, and both my parents played golf. They were members, when I was a young kid, at Rhode Island Country Club. I would go to the club with them, but I really got into the game when I was a caddie at 12 years old.
NEGM: How did you develop such an uncanny putting stroke?
BF: I get asked a lot of times if I was always a good putter. The question is almost an insult, really. That means that I never had to practice it and that I don’t have to practice any more. Putting well is just not a thing that you are born with. It took hours, thousands of hours, of practice. I was 12 years old when I first took the game seriously. The household rule was that I had to return home when the street lights went on. So I spent a lot of time putting and chipping. I didn’t know at the time that I was working or practicing. No, I was just having fun. I grew up at this fantastic club where the greens had a lot of undulation and slope. When I started playing, I wasn’t reaching all these greens in regulations by any means, so I learned I had to putt and chip well if I wanted to compete. And I did.
NEGM: Why have you joined forces with MSOP?
BF: I played in a Pro-Am on the Champions Tour a few years ago in Quebec City with a couple of guys from Montreal. We had a really great time on the course and ended up going to dinner. We kept in touch and not too long ago they introduced me to Guy Laliberté, who started Cirque de Soleil. He had also started the World Series of Poker events. His efforts all raise money for his foundation called One Drop, which tries to find clean water all over the world for developing nations. He wanted to do the same thing for golf that he did for poker—have a putting competition to find the best putters and, at the same time, raise money for One Drop. The idea was one putt for One Drop. Because I had a reputation as a good putter and because I believe in One Drop, Guy and I and his Montreal-based support team are working together on this project. I think it’s a wonderful idea to search for the country’s greatest putters. And it should be a lot of fun.
NEGM: Why are you using the Blast Golf swing analyzer for your short game?
BF: To me, if you want to be a great putter, you have to embrace your own style. I’ve always thought that if you had great tempo and good timing, you could get away with little idiosyncrasies in your swing or your stroke. The Hall of Fame is filled with players that have different looks, but they totally believe in what they do. When I looked at the information that the Blast analyzer sensor shows us, it’s useful. You get instant feedback. For example, you can time your backswing to see if you can repeat that on each stroke, or you see if your clubhead is opening or closing the same amount every time. There’s no better teacher than the Blast app for the putting stroke. And the technology can also translate into the timing and club angles on chip shots, pitches, and full swings. Practicing with the Blast app is almost like playing a video game, and I think it’s the path to getting better and to enjoying the progress you are making.
NEGM: Talk about your design activities at TPC Boston and Bay Club in Mattapoisett.
BF: I have really enjoyed the opportunities. I was lucky enough to land that job at the Bay Club, and I had a great partner, Brad Booth. Basically, we got the job because of an introduction by Bobby Orr. What a great story! When I was a kid, Bobby was my idol as a Bruin. He has become an exceptional golfer. And on an individual level, he is the greatest person I have ever met. Bobby helped Brad and me land that job. And Brad and I put together a track that opened in 2004 and has become a very successful private golf course.
About that same time, the TOUR was bringing the Deutsche Bank Championship to TPC Boston, a course which Arnold Palmer had not designed to be a TOUR event. The TOUR asked me if I would work with Gil Hanse, so a great relationship began with Gil. We worked together on TPC Boston to renovate almost all the bunkers, a lot of the greens, and some of the original layout design—all to make a very good course challenging for that FedEx Cup event—and the work is still ongoing.
NEGM: What has inspired you and Billy Andrade to become such advocates for charities in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts?
BF: In 1990, Billy and I formed a foundation called Andrade-Faxon Charities for Children, because we wanted to give back to the people of Rhode Island and Massachusetts who had supported us over the years. With the help of friends like Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Sandy Koufax, and Glen Frey—all who love the game of golf—we came up with this idea and raised money for children’s charities all around the state. It’s been wonderful.
Then, because of the success of Peter Jacobsen’s charity event in Portland, Oregon, called the Fred Meyer Challenge, Billy and I met with Tom Ryan, then the CEO of CVS, a major company in Rhode Island, to ask if CVS would replicate that type of an event at Rhode Island Country Club. CVS began their partnership with us in 1999, and to date, we’ve given almost $20 million dollars away to deserving recipients throughout Southern New England.
Both have been great feel-good experiences.
NEGM: What are your five favorite New England golf courses?
BF: If I give you five, I’ll have to give you 10! You’re always partial to the course you grow up on and where you learned to play, so my Donald Ross course of Rhode Island Country Club is my number one because I owe my life and my golf career to that club. It’s still the place that I call home. OK, I love Wannamoisett, Newport, Eastward Ho!, Kittansett, Old Sandwich, Boston Golf Club, The Country Club, Ekwanok, and Salem. And, really, that’s just the start!
NEGM: What two of your eight were your most memorable PGA TOUR victories?
BF: Winning at home in New England at Pleasant Valley in 1990 was really important to me. I think the best golf I ever played was at the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2001. I played with Ernie Els the last two days, and I played with Tom Lehman, and I was part of the best golf I had ever seen. And then Justin Thomas breaks my record by seven shots! Amazing!
NEGM: What have you enjoyed doing when you are not playing golf?
BF: During those Rhode Island winters, I was a pretty active squash and platform tennis player and skier. I have always liked being outside as much as possible. I still like to do a lot of stuff that is not golf related like working out in the gym or playing tennis. I spent a lot of time, as much as I could, with my girls as they grew up, watching them do their activities like field hockey and soccer. My wife and I have always done a lot of social and charitable ventures. I also really enjoy my time in the broadcasting booth with FOX. There has never been a time during my golf career where I have just been sitting still and looking for something to do.
NEGM: Who would be in your Dream Foursome of today? Of any time period?
BF: Bobby Orr, Sandy Koufax, and Jack Nicklaus.
Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones.
(All photography by Vicky MacKay)