Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, has announced he is retiring from his position after 11 years of service.
The 69-year-old, who was appointed in 2006, will be succeeded by Fred Ridley – the current Chairman of Competition Committees during the Masters Tournament – at the beginning of the Club season on October 16.
Payne encouraged innovation during his tenure, especially through the development of digital media offerings and emerging television technologies, in an effort to reach new and younger audiences.
He also worked to make the sport more welcoming, including the addition of women into the Club’s membership.
“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 honour, 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 – and at the right moment – to open the door and invite someone new to be called upon to lead, bring forth new ideas and craft a new vision that will honour our Founders and serve the game of golf for many years to come.”
Payne said he is confident that Ridley will uphold the principles of the Club’s founders, and will now assume the title of Chairman Emeritus.
“I am now proud to call upon my good friend Fred Ridley to lead Augusta National and the Masters to a future that I am confident will hold new promise, while always being faithful to the principles of Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts,” Payne said.
“Fred will be an excellent Chairman who will serve with my complete and enthusiastic support.”