Like Fenway’s Green Monster or the Garden parquet, Brian Oates is an omnipresent figure in the Boston sports scene. Before joining The Kraft Sports Group as Executive Director of Sales, Oates worked in sales and marketing for the Red Sox, Comcast Sports Net, the PGA’s Bank of America Championship, the Bruins, and the Bay State Games.
His professionalism and work ethic was, at least in part, formed on the golf course as a precocious golf maven. “I started in the sixth grade as a caddie at Oakley Country Club in Watertown,” says Oates, who lives in Newton with wife Maureen and sons Aidan, 10, Owen, 8, and Jackson, 5.
“After 6pm, they would let the caddies play. I was just a working Joe who needed a job. I think I paid $12.00 for my first golf bag.”
Due to his diligence and impeccable business reputation, Oates’s equipment and game has grown in quality. Still, it is the simple love of golf that keeps him coming back. “Golf is something that I really enjoy doing with good friends,” says the Boston College High School (1989), Holy Cross (1993), and BC Carroll School of Management (MBA, 2005) graduate.
“I’ve met so many people through golf, different level players and all different ages. It’s that shared experience that is the key. I’m really looking forward to playing more with my sons as they get older.”
Oates counts Woodland, Oakley, Boston Golf, Newport, and Winchester among his favorite courses, and his approach to the game is humorously philosophical. He refers to his age as “42, with a body of a 62-year-old” and his handicap as “the worst 9.2 in America.”
Says Oates, “I’ve had some good days where I shoot in the high 70’s and low 80’s. I was actually able to play a lot last year, but let me tell you, there is no correlation between the amount of playing I do, and the amount of ability I have.”
In his current work, Oates creates marketing programs for the Patriots, Revolution, Gillette Stadium, and Patriot Place. He sells sponsorships on multimedia platforms and has established relationships with companies such as Dunkin Donuts, EMC, Motorola, Toshiba, and many more.
Like a Ryder Cup golfer, he is proud to represent a top-notch team. “I’ve been fortunate to work with the Kraft family,” says Oates, who has been in the sports marketing field since 1993. “They truly care about people, whether it’s an employee, customer, or client. They are willing to invest in their products and their people, and they are excellent at cultivating relationships.
“It’s exciting to work with companies in finding solutions for what they’re trying to accomplish. My work is a little bit like my golf game. I’m not sure I do it especially well, but I really enjoy doing it.”
Enjoyment aside, Oates inhabits a high pressure and high stakes world. Golf provides a needed change of scenery from the board room. He explains, “When you’re out there playing golf with a client, you develop a rapport and build a relationship based on trust. There’s nothing better than getting out on the golf course. You really get to learn about each other’s common characteristics.”
Oates clearly understands the metaphysical aspects of golf, but he is not above the more visceral thrill of the game. “A few weeks ago in Florida, I was playing at Old Memorial and I got a hole-in-one! It is a true example of how a blind squirrel can sometimes find a nut.
“The best part is that I got to share the moment with some really good friends. It was at the fourth hole, about 194 yards from the tee, and I caught a really good five wood!”
Oates’s aim is similarly true in his charitable endeavors as Co-Founder and Chairman of Golf Fights Cancer (golffightscancer.org). In April of 2003, Oates and colleague Jay Monahan lost their friend Rob Stevens to cancer. The duo committed to running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Stevens’ wife and three children.
Oates first ran Boston in 1996 and has run each year since 1998. The organization has urged the golf community to get involved, and has raised over $3 million for several cancer-related charities.
Says Oates, “Collectively, our group is making a difference, and that is a reflection on the golf community at large. Golf Fights Cancer has helped me form tremendous friendships and really give back. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to help people. I’ve received a lot of good breaks in business, and worked with some great people. Golf has been a big part of that.”
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