Augusta, GA (WJBF)- The members of Augusta National Golf Club are mourning the loss of former Augusta National Chairman, Hootie Johnson. Johnson died this morning at the age of 86 years old.
Johnson led the Augusta National Golf Club for 8 years, taking the helm on May 1, 1998. According to a statement from current Chair, Billy Payne, Johnson was always admired for his genuine and unrelenting respect for the traditions and vision of the Club and Tournament established by Founders bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.
During Hootie Johnson’s tenure, he oversaw the expansion of television coverage of The Masters Golf Tournament, improved qualifications for tournament invites and reopened the series badge waiting list welcoming more people to The Masters and game of golf.
Hootie stepped down as Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club in 2006, he is survived by his wife Pierrine, four daughters and 10 grandchildren. Chairman Billy Payne is quoted in a statement saying, “I owe an immeasurable debt to Hootie Johnson, and I will thank him every day for what he has meant to me personally as well as to the legacy of Augusta National and the Masters. “
Augusta National Golf Club, its staff and members will privately honor the memory and legacy of Hootie Johnson.
Current Chairman, Billy Payne, issued the following statement:
Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament are today mourning the loss of William Woodward “Hootie” Johnson, our beloved Chairman Emeritus. Hootie passed away this morning at the age of 86, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional service to our Club, our Tournament and the game of golf.
Hootie was named Chairman of Augusta National on May 1, 1998. During his eight-year tenure, we always admired his genuine and unrelenting respect for the traditions and vision of the Club and Tournament established by our Founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.
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.
Hootie stepped down as Chairman on May 5, 2006, leaving both Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament in exceptional form. In the years that followed, Hootie was a frequent visitor here, enjoying the rewards of retirement with his wife Pierrine, his four daughters, his sons-in-law and 10 grandchildren, to say nothing of the many friends he made through a rewarding and honorable life.
At all times, Hootie selflessly served as my personal mentor on matters here at Augusta National and the Masters, as well as in business and life. He impressed upon me his obsession for constant improvement and a love for Augusta National that will forever remain unmatched. As the current Chairman, I owe an immeasurable debt to Hootie Johnson, and I will thank him every day for what he has meant to me personally as well as to the legacy of Augusta National and the Masters.
In the days ahead, we will privately honor the memory of Hootie Johnson, stand with his beautiful family and celebrate his extraordinary life.