Billy Payne retiring as Masters, Augusta National chairman

Fred Ridley will replace Billy Payne as Augusta National chairman, who has held the high-profile role since May 2006.

Billy Payne and Fred Ridley   -  (Getty Images)

The public face of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters is moving on.

Billy Payne announced on Wednesday he will retire as chairman of Augusta National and the Masters, a position he has held since May 2006. Fred Ridley will replace him as chairman.

Payne, 69, presided over significant change at the club, most notably the addition of women to the membership for the first time.

A former football player at Georgia, Payne previously served as head of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

“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."

Ridley, who had previously served as chairman of the competition committee for the Masters, becomes the seventh man to hold the job, following Clifford Roberts (1933-77), Bill Lane (1977-80), Hord Hardin (1980-91), Jack Stephens (1991-98), Hootie Johnson (1998-2006) and Payne.

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