I just love Graeme Baxter. Not only is the man one of the gentlest and kindest individuals to reside in my hometown of Rancho Mirage, he’s one of those lucky souls who’s found a way to make a handsome living from his passion. Well, in his case, twin passions. You see, at heart, Baxter is both a golfer and a painter.
Born in Scotland in 1958, Graeme discovered his artistic ability first. Watching his father play golf, he soon realized he also had a penchant—and a knack—for the sport. Refining his golfing expertise all the while, he studied at the Glasgow School of Art, and spent almost a decade as a fine art dealer. But when he painted the 17th hole at the Old Course at St. Andrews, he launched his career as a painter. Through the years, he’s become the official artist to some of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world—including the Ryder Cup, the Open Championship, the Presidents Cup, and our very own Kraft Nabisco Championship. In fact, his office and studio are housed in the KNC office at Mission Hills Country Club.
That’s where I first met Graeme, who told me that his 2008 move to the desert was prompted by his desire to broaden his business. “I’ve sold my art in 32 countries,” he says, adding that he wanted to add America to the international feathers in his cap. “We looked at Naples, Florida, and Scottsdale, Arizona, but really, the Palm Springs Valley was the best location for me. Specifically Rancho Mirage, for the size of the city, its beauty, and the fact that it lies at the center of the desert.”
One of the best perks of his relationship with Mission Hills and KNC is the fact that, for the last 10 years, Graeme has been on the 18th green to award a giclee (limited replication) of one of his KNC paintings to the newly crowned KNC champion. “I am very, very honored to get to present the winner with one of my paintings,” says the master, who uses only the best oils and canvasses. “And it’s a real thrill for me to be the artist for KNC because it’s the number one major in women’s golf.”
Apparently, the love Graeme has for KNC flows both ways. It was tournament director Gabe Codding who first urged me to go visit Graeme in his studio, telling me, “You’ll be able to see where all the magic happens—and to see firsthand why he is one of my favorite people.” Gabe—and I—have very good taste. But then again, it’s hard not to fall in love with Graeme Baxter, the beauty of his art, and the beauty of his soul.