Jul 16th, 2017
Hootie Johnson has died
At the age of 86
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Hootie Johnson, the former chairman at Augusta National, has died at the age of 86.
Johnson was chairman of Augusta National for eight years from 1998-2006, and died on Friday, the club said in a statement.
Current Augusta National chairman Billy Payne commented: "He boldly directed numerous course improvements to ensure that Augusta National would always represent the very finest test of golf.”
"Simultaneously, Hootie expanded television coverage of the Masters, improved qualification standards for invitation to the Tournament and reopened the series badge waiting list for the first time in more than 20 years.
"Many of these measures brought more people than ever closer to the Masters and inspired us to continue exploring ways to welcome people all over the world to the tournament and the game of golf."
But Johnson is more widely known for his disagreement with women's activist Martha Burk, who demanded a change in the membership policies at Augusta National.
Johnson rejected her calls and said he would not be forced to act "at the point of bayonet.”
It was not until 2012, under Hootie’s successor Billy Payne, that Augusta National finally invited its first two female members.
Under his chairmanship, the course at Augusta National was made a much longer and sterner test, to counter the massive improvements to ball and equipment performance.
These changes were not well received by many purists, but will prove to be his lasting legacy, now that his intolerance of women members is almost a thing of the past.