Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters for the past 11 years, will retire from his position on Oct. 16, the club announced Wednesday. The new chairman will be Fred Ridley, who currently serves as the chairman of the tournament’s competition committee.
Payne, 69, oversaw a mountain of change at Augusta National since taking over in May 2006. During his tenure, the club admitted women members for the first time, founded the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship in which junior golfers compete on the Sunday before The Masters annually, and significantly expanded its property. Payne also spearheaded the founding of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and the Latin America Amateur Championship, which offer Masters invitations to their winners.
“The privilege I experienced serving as chairman of Augusta National and The Masters was far greater than I could have ever imagined,” Payne said. “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. I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do.”
Ridley, the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion who served as USGA president in 2004-05, will become the seventh chairman of Augusta National. Ridley, who played in three Masters (1976-78), will become the first Augusta National chairman to have competed in the tournament.
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