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Volume 24 No. 132
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Longtime Augusta National Chair Billy Payne Stepping Down; Fred Ridley To Take Over

Augusta National Golf Club Chair BILLY PAYNE is "stepping down" from his position when the club opens its season Oct. 16, and "will be replaced" by Masters Tournament Competition Committee Chair FRED RIDLEY, according to John Boyette of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. Payne, who served as Chair for 11 years, will "assume the title" of Chair Emeritus. He is "stepping down after several notable achievements, including the admission of the club’s first female members" in '12. Former U.S. Secretary of State CONDOLEEZZA RICE and South Carolina businesswoman DARLA MOORE were "invited to join nearly a decade after the club’s membership practices were criticized by a national women’s organization." With golf "struggling to attract new players because of time and money, Payne joined forces with golf’s governing bodies to create the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship." Payne also "vastly increased" the Masters' digital presence, bringing the "latest in television technology to the broadcasts." He "expanded content available on the tournament Website with live video channels and a tracking feature that enabled patrons to follow the shots of each player in the tournament." Payne "transformed Augusta National’s grounds with an aggressive program that included improvements in parking, on-course amenities, hospitality and even how patrons arrived at the course" (, 8/23). GOLFWEEK's Brentley Romine notes Payne helped "orchestrate a new Masters Tournament television contract" with ESPN in '07, and that same year added Mercedes-Benz and Rolex as the "first two global sponsors to support Masters telecasts and golf development programs outside the U.S." In '11, Augusta National "reached an agreement" with EA Sports on an "unprecedented" video game, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters" (, 8/23).

PAYNE'S LEGACY: GOLF DIGEST's Jaime Diaz writes Payne's legacy "indisputably qualifies him as the most significant" Augusta National and Masters Chair since Clifford Roberts. In his "relatively short time, Payne has fulfilled an enormous to-do list." Under Payne, the position of the Masters and Augusta National among golf’s major organizations "has climbed in stature and import." The club has a "bigger voice in the game’s issues and seems to operate with more autonomy." By "shrewdly blending its increased revenues with a broader, more culturally current vision, Payne pushed the previously often hidebound club and its tournament into the 21st century with a vitality that in retrospect is stunning" (, 8/23). Jack Nicklaus said Payne "might ruffle a feather somewhere along the way, but that’s okay." Nicklaus: "He’s doing what he thinks is right and I think that’s what his job was and his position was.” Nicklaus: "The President of the United States is the leader of the free world, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is the leader of the free golf world and that’s what he is. He has the ability to innovate and do things that nobody has the ability to be able to get done. ... (Payne) had a strong personality to get that done." Meanwhile, Golf Digest's Diaz said allowing women would probably go down as Payne's "most important moment ... because it was a such a landmark.” Diaz: “In my perception, The Masters was always slightly below the USGA and the R&A in terms of influence and under Billy Payne it’s almost been a reversal in which The Masters is the leading voice” (Golf Channel, 8/23). writes Payne's 11-year term -- the second-longest in club history -- was "arguably the most transformative in the 84-year history of Augusta National." Meanwhile, Ridley will become the "first chairman to have played in the Masters" (, 8/23).

Clifford Roberts
William Lane
Hord Hardin
Jackson Stephens
Billy Payne
Fred Ridley