Changing of the Guard

Guide to The Masters

Augusta-NationalA new chairman will lead the Masters Tournament this year 

Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament never shy away from change, and a new chairman will preside over this year’s tournament. Fred Ridley, the former Competition Committees chairman, took the reins last fall from Billy Payne, who retired from the position of chairman in October. 

“Throughout my life, Bobby Jones has been my idol and role model. I remember meeting Clifford Roberts during my first visit to Augusta National as an amateur invitee more than four decades ago. So to become chairman of Augusta National and the Masters is beyond humbling. I stand ready to embrace the responsibilities that come with this important position, strengthened by the lessons the sport teaches and the example of those who have provided leadership to me over the years,” Ridley said upon his appointment.

“As chairman, I will always look to Jones and Roberts as a source of wisdom and inspiration. I fully subscribe to their mandate of constant improvement and their commitment to maintaining the highest standard in all that we do. I pledge to use my deep-rooted respect for the customs and traditions they established to further elevate our club and tournament, while continuing their mission of contributing to the development of the sport around the world.

“I would like to thank Billy Payne, our esteemed chairman emeritus, who appointed me as his successor. His confidence in allowing me this honor has already had a profound impact on my life. I am grateful to consider him a friend and mentor, both personally and professionally.”

Ridley is the seventh chairman in the club’s 86-year history, and he is the only chairman to have ever competed in the Masters. He was invited three times during his amateur career, qualifying in 1976 and 1977 by winning the 1975 U.S. Amateur Championship. He played again in 1978 as a member of the 1977 Walker Cup team.

Payne, who started his tenure as chairman in May 2006, announced in August that he was stepping down.

“The privilege I experienced serving as chairman of Augusta National and the Masters was far greater than I could have ever imagined,” Payne said last summer. “Just as nothing can prepare you for the unique responsibilities and important decisions that come with this position, it is equally impossible to anticipate the many joys and, most importantly, the wonderful friendships that are the ultimate reward of service. This honor, however, is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time.” 

In addition to Payne, Roberts (1934-76), Bill Lane (1976-80), Hord Hardin (1980-91), Jack Stephens (1991-98) and Hootie Johnson (1998-2006) also served as chairman.

By Betsy Gilliland