I had a chance to sit down and spend some time with Rhode Island native Bill Andrade at the Connecticut Golf Show in late March.
Andrade, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, was in town to sign autographs, press the flesh with the numerous attendees, and talk about TaylorMade equipment. The 47-year-old is spending most of his time these days working as an analyst for The Golf Channel. He’s playing only sparingly, as he hones his broadcasting skills and gets himself psyched to launch a new career on The Champions Tour.
“I’m really looking forward to The Champions Tour,” he said as he shook the hand of a well-wisher. “My sister just turned 50 and she was all bummed out,” he laughed. “I told her I would kill to be 50.”
Andrade’s game during the last few years has not been up to par and he’s played in only a handful of events during the past three or four years. But the gig with The Golf Channel is going well and he’s enjoying the experience.
“Last year was my first time doing broadcasting and I was a bit nervous and tentative I thought. But this year it’s been much smoother because I’ve learned the ropes and been more confident with my announcing. It was a little stressful last year. But I think I bring something to the broadcasts because I’m still a young guy and I know the players.”
He’s played only one tournament this year, at the AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he shot in the mid-70’s, not great scores but good enough to be encouraging.
“It’s all the short game and I’m not practicing or playing that much right now, so that part of the game isn’t where it needs to be. But I’m actually hitting the ball well and that is a good sign.”
Andrade was once one of the standout players on Tour, with his best years coming during the 1990’s. He won the Kemper Open and Buick Classic in 1991, the Bell Canadian Open in 1998 and the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas in 2000. He posted four other wins in non-PGA sanctioned events from 1991 to 2001.
Andrade has also made a name for himself off the course as he and fellow Rhody native, Brad Faxon, have run the Billy Andrade/Brad Faxon Charities for Children, Inc. since 1991. The organization has raised more than $7 million for children in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. He and Faxon were honored in 1999 by the Golf Writers Association of America with the Charlie Bartlett Award, given to playing professionals for their unselfish contributions to society. Along with Faxon, Andrade hosts the annual CVS Charity Classic at Rhode Island Country Club each year.
Andrade, who maintains residences in Atlanta, Ga. and Bristol R.I., is thrilled to be associated with TaylorMade.
“The clubs they are making are amazing. I love the new R11 driver and it’s great for people to be able to customize the club to fit their needs. TaylorMade has me as sort of a goodwill ambassador rather than as a playing rep and I have enjoyed that.”
He is keeping his options open in the near future.
“No one really knows how the whole television contract thing is going to work out with the PGA Tour, so we’re all in a bit of flux. I still want to play, which I plan to do at our tournament. I’m hoping to get into Hartford and the Canadian Open this summer. At 47, I have three years left until I reach heaven,” he added with a smile.