24/7 Executives is a series of stories on high-performing professionals who are as serious at play as they are in the conference room. See the other stories here.
Gerry Barad comes across as a collector. But unlike others whose interest is in cars, wine or guitars, Mr. Barad collects clubs. Their names are prestigious – Royal North Devon on the English coast, Olympia Fields in Chicago, Yale in New Haven, Conn., the National Golf Club of Canada just north of Toronto.
Yes, Mr. Barad collects golf memberships, and while he hasn't quite hit the 14-club rule (an inside golf joke), his passion for the sport has led him all over the world.
"I've played so many places over the years," Mr. Barad says. "I like playing with friends, I like the exercise, and I like playing 18 holes in two hours flat."
Mr. Barad wouldn't seem like the world's most obvious golfer. He started his career promoting punk rock shows in Vancouver, where he grew up. Now, as chief operating officer of Live Nation Global Touring, the world's largest music promotion company, Mr. Barad handles the biggest bands on the planet, booking tours for U2, Neil Young, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rush and other A-listers.
And while Mr. Barad, whose energetic pace can leave your head swimming, has played a huge role in the music business for more than 30 years, golf is his passion.
It isn't that he's a great player (his handicap has risen to a modest 13 from a low of 9, he says, which puts him among the mainstream of amateur players). It is his love of great golf course design, the true art of the sport, that sets him apart.
That's why he belongs to clubs all over the world, and why he continues to travel for an opportunity to play the ones that interest him most.
That doesn't necessarily mean Mr. Barad searches out the biggest or best-known courses in golf. He scoffs at people's worship of places such as ultra-exclusive Augusta National, home of the Masters, instead preferring clubs that are perhaps lesser known but in Mr. Barad's mind far superior. That means joining Prairie Dunes in remote Hutchinson, Kan., because he felt it would suit his sensibilities, even if he gets to play the course infrequently.
"I had an opportunity to join Prairie Dunes, and I joined prior to ever playing there," he says. "Yale, I joined because it is one of my favourite places in the world. Yale is in the top 30 courses in the world. It is extraordinary. I joined Old Marsh [in Florida] because a lot of my friends are at Seminole and Indian Creek [other Florida courses], and I wanted something different. It is a great membership and it is a hard course."
For Mr. Barad, golf is often an escape from the demands of the music industry. But his playing partners have included Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters, and he can often be found tipping it up with Rush guitarist, and avid golfer, Alex Lifeson. The trouble is, Mr. Barad says, when you play golf with someone famous, it is hard to remain anonymous. And besides, the last thing Mr. Barad or his playing partners want to discuss is the nuances of the music business.
"Alex and I don't talk about how the tour is going – we talk about golf," he says. "The last thing we want to talk about is music. We're on a great tour, everything is going well, so let's not talk about it. And when I bring someone like Alex, you want people to leave him alone. That day he's just a golfer."
Which is how Mr. Barad likes it when he plays as well. For years he was located in Toronto, booking shows from a downtown office. More recently he's been based in Chicago, and belongs to Olympia Fields, a multicourse club that has held the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. When he can escape for a round, he throws his bag over his shoulder and races around the course, priding himself on getting in a game in less than three hours.
"It is like I have ADD, because I lose patience," he says. "I don't like waiting around, which means there are people I can't play golf with."
More recently, Mr. Barad has played a little less than his typical frenetic pace.
"I've played so many places in such a short period of time, that I'm trying to digest it," he says. "I have a bunch of shows I'm working on in New York, so I'm playing with a friend at Merion [near Philadelphia], which I haven't been back to in a couple of years, and Rush is playing in Newark, so I'll get over to Yale. I'm getting back at it."
Golf isn't his only interest. He is also an adviser at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and he sits on the board of Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre, founded by a group that included Friends star David Schwimmer.
Despite being in rock 'n' roll for more than three decades, Mr. Barad, 57, says he's not slowing down any time soon, and he's not finished seeking out the best golf courses in the world. He quickly recounts his plans for the year, which include a trip to Britain to play a series of links, courses built hard by the sea for which he has a particular fondness.
"I have a nice circle of friends in Chicago who I play with," he says. "We do road trips all the time, and I plan to do more of that in the winter. I enjoy my life, but I have bills to pay, so I'm not packing it in any time soon. And some of those golf memberships are out there. They aren't cheap."