Fred Ridley has been appointed as the new chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club and of the Masters Tournament, one of the sport’s four major championships, following the retirement of Billy Payne.
The 65-year-old will assume the role on 16th October, when Payne will officially step down from the position to coincide with the beginning of the new season.
Ridley, a Florida-born former United States Amateur Championship winner, will be the seventh chairman in the club and tournament’s history. He will also become the first chairman to have competed in the Masters, having qualified for the competition for three consecutive years between 1976 and 1978.
Payne served 11 years as chairman of the iconic Georgia-based venue, a period in which he welcomed the first female members to the golf club and increased the Masters’ digital presence as a means of promoting the tournament and the sport.
“I was told by my predecessor, Hootie Johnson, the most important decision you’ll ever make is who succeeds you,” said Payne. “I figured I’d better spend several years figuring out what the job is all about, and then it will be time to start looking. That’s what I did. It became clear that Fred Ridley was immensely qualified and a wonderful human being, and highly regarded by the membership and the world of golf.
“I think he’ll be, as I tried to be, another great custodian. I think all chairmen after our first two founders are custodians of their dreams and aspirations. We try to maintain it and, if we can, make it a little better. He’s going to do that beautifully.”