"No one rolls it better than Brad, and he's just a phenomenal reader of greens," says Scott McCarron, who should know. McCarron has teamed with Faxon the last two years in the Franklin Templeton Shootout, a pairs event whose format is forgiving of Faxon's Achilles' heel, the occasional wild tee shot, and rewards great putting. McCarron and Faxon, not coincidentally, have won it both times they've played in it together.
Faxon invites his guest in and pads across the polished wood floor to the kitchen, where he prepares coffee with somewhat less economy of movement than he displays in reading and stroking a downhill double-breaker at Augusta. His wife, Dory, the mother of one child with Brad (he has three from a previous marriage), ambles in and smiles.
"Did he get the coffeemaker to work?" Dory asks. "He's not really used to it. He's given up coffee; before that we used to get it from Dunkin' Donuts down the road."
Coffee finally made and poured, Faxon escorts his guest into his den, a comfortable room with a bookcase full of leather-bound golf volumes, a flat-screen television, a fireplace and a big window looking out on the backyard. Above the fireplace hangs an oil painting that Faxon bought at an auction last year at the CVS Pharmacy Charity Classic, a two-day charity event he and Billy Andrade host each summer at the Rhode Island Country Club. The painting shows Faxon and Andrade on the seventeenth green. In the background are spectators, a bit of the bay and a small lighthouse. Faxon is squatting behind a golf ball, reading the green, his right leg fully bent underneath him and his left only half bent, to protect his tricky knee.
The painting encompasses a lot of what Faxon is about. It's about friendship—he and Andrade first became buddies before they were teenagers, and they are still tight. It's about giving back to the community, which Faxon does in abundance: He and Andrade have a foundation that has contributed $1.7 million to New England children's charities, among them a golf learning center in central Providence called Button Hole. The painting is about Rhode Island, where Faxon grew up and chooses to live among old friends and family, even if the climate isn't conducive to year-round golf. And it's about putting.
Putting, Faxon says as he settles himself into an overstuffed chair, is simple: "I tell everybody that you can learn to be a great putter."
And how do you do that?
"The three things you can control are your mind, your stroke and your equipment," he continues, "and it would be nice to have all three be great."