Hootie Johnson, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced today that he is stepping down from his position at the end of the Club season on May 21.
Johnson will assume the title of Chairman Emeritus. He will be succeeded as Chairman by William Porter (Billy) Payne.
Johnson, 75, was elected Chairman May 1, 1998. As Chairman, Johnson oversaw significant changes to the golf course, modified the Masters qualifications for invitation, initiated 18-hole television coverage and announced over $25 million in charitable contributions made by the Tournament.
“I have enjoyed my time serving as Chairman,” Johnson said. “Working with Club members, staff and volunteers on the Masters has been very rewarding. The Tournament is successful by any measure and will continue to grow. I know I leave the Chairmanship in very capable hands.”
Payne, 58 (October 13, 1947), has previously served as Chairman of the Masters Media Committee since 2000. The Georgia native was born in Athens and raised in Atlanta. He was President and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games, spearheading the successful effort to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta. He is currently a Partner with Gleacher Partners, a full-service investment banking firm. Additionally, Payne is Chairman of Centennial Investment Properties, a multifamily investment firm where he is a partner with his son.
He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia and played football there from 1966-68 earning All-Southeastern Conference honors his final season. Payne has been inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and has been a recipient of the Olympic Order in Gold. He has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Atlanta Urban League and the Theodore Roosevelt Award, the highest honor bestowed by the NCAA. He and his wife Martha have two children and seven grandchildren.
“It is an honor to be the new Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament,” Payne said. “Our Club has an outstanding membership, dedicated staff and volunteers committed to the Masters, and loyal and knowledgeable patrons. Hootie did a wonderful job as Chairman, and I will endeavor to maintain the customs and traditions of our Club as established by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones.”
Payne will be the Club and Masters sixth Chairman. Those who previously held the post are Roberts (1933-77), Bill Lane (1977-80), Hord Hardin (1980-91), Jack Stephens (1991-1998) and Johnson.