Billy Andrade receives Payne Stewart Award for children’s charities work

Credit: Ben Jared, PGA T

Credit: Ben Jared, PGA T

Billy Andrade said the prelude to learning of the greatest honor of his career felt more like a trip to the principal’s office.

It was the evening of the East Lake Invitational in May. Andrade had been playing golf all day with donors and he had 200 people arriving for dinner at the club. He was asked by the PGA Tour to go upstairs and film an interview about the day’s event and the impact the annual event has made on the community.

Once he got off the elevator and turned the corner, Andrade knew something was up. His parents, who hadn’t left their home in Rhode Island for two years because of COVID-19, were waiting there, expressionless. His wife, Jody, and his children, Cameron and Grace, were there, all wearing smiles.

“And I thought I was in trouble,” Andrade said. “Like, what’s going on here? Is this an intervention? I felt like I was in grade school again. I just didn’t have a good feeling.”

That quickly changed. Jody Andrade pointed to a big screen and there was Tracey Stewart, the wife of the late Payne Stewart, and their two children.

That’s when Billy Andrade began to get the picture. He was informed by Tracey Stewart that he was the winner of the 2022 Payne Stewart Award, given annually to a professional golfer “who best exemplifies Stewart’s steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship.”

And in that moment, Andrade – noted for his quotability, spontaneity and wit – didn’t know what to say.

“I was speechless, man,” he said. “I’ve got 200 people coming to a party, I just played 27 holes of golf playing holes with different groups of people … my mind was going 100 mph. And this was thrown on me 15 minutes before the party started.”

The other part of the equation: Andrade couldn’t tell anyone else. He had to keep it a secret until the announcement was made Wednesday when he was present at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell.

Andrade, 58, is a native of Rhode Island, but has lived in Atlanta since he joined the PGA Tour in 1988.

Andrade always has been aware of the importance of giving back. It was a point of emphasis when he was playing golf at Wake Forest on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship when “The King” came to speak to the team.

“Arnold came and spoke to the team and talked about the doors that golf can open,” Andrade said. “And when I began to play professional golf, I realized that we can start raising a lot of money for a lot of charities that are near and dear to you.”

Andrade combined efforts with his close friend Brad Faxon in 1991 to support charities in New England. The Andrade/Faxon Charities for Children has raised more than $25 million for children in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Since 2002 it has supported 61 children’s charities.

Andrade will never forget how the event got its footing. He mentioned the idea of a charity golf tournament to Bank of America CEO Terry Murray, who invited him to a luncheon with 25 of the region’s movers and shakers. Andrade pitched the idea and immediately sold all 20 spots in the event for $5,000 per foursome.

“That was the start of it right there,” Andrade said. “And then I went to Mr. (Tom) Cousins and told him how I thought we could do the same things for the East Lake Foundation.”

The Payne Stewart Award is accompanied by an annual $500,000 grant made possible by Southern Company. Andrade will be able to designate $300,000 of the grant. He will match that amount through the Andrade Family Foundation and direct the $600,000 to a number of charities, including the East Lake Foundation, Camp Twin Lakes and Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence, R.I.

“Billy Andrade is an ideal representation of a Payne Stewart Award recipient,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “As someone who exudes kindness and respect, Billy is a stranger to no one, and has spent his career fostering meaningful relationships.