ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
66°
Mostly Clear
H 88° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    66°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 88° L 68°
  • clear-day
    88°
    Today
    Mostly Clear. H 88° L 68°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 87° L 68°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Billy Payne retiring as Masters, Augusta National chairman
Close

Billy Payne retiring as Masters, Augusta National chairman

Billy Payne retiring as Masters, Augusta National chairman
Photo Credit: Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
In this April 6, 2016 photo, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne smiles during a news conference at the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Payne announced Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, that he is retiring as chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Billy Payne retiring as Masters, Augusta National chairman

Billy Payne ruled more with an open mind than an iron fist.

As the sixth chairman of Augusta National Golf Club — and the first with no direct link to co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts — he held fast to the heritage and traditions of the club, while looking beyond Magnolia Lane at how the Masters could wield influence around the world for more than one week of the year.

Women joined Augusta National for the first time. Juniors were allowed to attend the Masters for free with an adult. Amateurs from the Asia Pacific region and throughout Latin America could dream about competing for a green jacket.

Payne announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 11 years of change that made the Augusta National logo more powerful than ever.

"There are two people that matter here — Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones," Payne said. "The rest of us are custodians. We do our best to first embrace, and thereafter hopefully to advance their philosophies for this club and for the game of golf — their obsession for detail, their passion to be the best. And I've done that now for a considerable number of years."

He officially retires on Oct. 16 when the club, which is closed during the summer, opens for a new season.

Payne will be succeeded by Fred Ridley, a former U.S. Amateur champion and USGA president who is chairman of the Masters competition committee. Ridley will be the seventh chairman, and the first to have played in the Masters.

Payne stays on as chairman emeritus.

Augusta National speaks with one voice, and in that respect, Payne was no different from the other chairmen. With his Southern, homespun style, the 69-year-old Georgia native was more about collaboration than calling all the shots.

Payne ends a remarkable career marked by two sporting events in which he had little previous experience.

He had never been to the Olympics when Payne, a little-known real estate lawyer, led a long-shot bid to bring the Summer Games to Atlanta in 1996. He relied heavily on corporate support, and he showed early signs of his commitment to diversity and inclusion. He chose two women among the first five volunteers he selected for the Atlanta organizing committee.

Payne did not take up golf until his adult years. He was invited to join Augusta National in 1997, a year after he concluded his work with the Atlanta Games. Nine years later, Hootie Johnson selected him as his successor as chairman.

"I committed my entire life to both at those respective times," he said of his work on the Olympics and at Augusta National.

Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore became the first women to join Augusta National in 2012, no doubt an influence when the Royal & Ancient at St. Andrews, and later Muirfield and Royal Troon, added women to its membership rolls.

That was but a small part of Payne's influence over the club and the Masters.

Wanting to expand the reach of golf, he worked with the R&A to start the Asia-Pacific Amateur, awarding the winner a spot in the Masters with hopes it would create heroes in an emerging market. The second winner was Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who now is No. 2 in the world. The USGA and R&A then joined with Augusta National's next venture, the Latin America Amateur.

Payne also brought in the USGA and PGA of America to start the Drive, Chip and Putt competition, which attracts children all over the country to compete in golf skills, with the finals held at Augusta National on the Sunday before the Masters.

"Forget about the fringe things," former USGA executive director David Fay said. "He took the opportunity to make sure that Augusta National was not just one of the four majors, but that it had a role at the table in decision-making for the game of golf."

Payne also invested heavily at the club by scooping up land around the perimeter to enhance the tournament. That includes free parking for the spectators, and the opening of Berckmans Place, a state-of-the-art hospitality area just beyond the fifth fairway.

Payne loves to tell the story of how his father would always ask him, "Did you do your best?" Payne says he never felt he could answer affirmatively, which drove him to a relentless work ethic in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta and in his role as Augusta National chairman.

"Yes, there's a striving for perfection," Payne said. "Striving for perfection is truly an obsession here, in the context of the Masters. We want to be able to provide for our patrons, our fans around the world, the absolute best sporting experience they have ever encountered. And we go to extremes to try to do that.

"We never get it quite right," he said. "But man, we try hard."

Ridley first met Roberts when he played the Masters in 1976 as the U.S. Amateur champion. Like Payne, his background is in real estate law. Payne recalls that when he began his tenure as chairman, his predecessor told him the most important job he faced was finding his own successor.

Payne says health was not the reason behind his retirement. He had triple-bypass surgery when he was 34, and another triple bypass in 1993 while working on the Atlanta Games. He was more concerned about his back, which has kept him from playing golf as much as he would like.

"This honor ... is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time," Payne said. "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."

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

News

  • As more information becomes available about the Equifax breach scandal, U.S. consumers are still searching for answers on whether they are vulnerable to identity fraud.  So that is why WSB Radio, Channel 2 Action News, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Consumer Adviser Clark Howard teamed up Monday morning to answer your questions.   Clark Howard was joined by Channel 2 Action News anchor Craig Lucie LIVE in Team Clark Howard's Consumer Action Center. They fielded questions and talked about the breach for over an hour.   The Facebook Live of the event reached more than 400,000 people worldwide:
  • Alright it was a laugher, it should have been a laugher, it was a laugher.  But this is nothing to joke about.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the company announced Monday, according to CNBC.  >> Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy: 3 things to know The iconic toy chain is just one of many businesses to suffer this year. Retailers have closed hundreds of stores, filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganized massive debt loads throughout 2017. >> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Toys ‘R’ Us, as anticipated, files for Chapter 11 protection Companies like The Limited and Gander Mountain announced this year that they would file bankruptcy — shuttering stores and laying off thousands of workers. >> Read more trending news Some of the companies to announce bankruptcies this year include the following: 1. The Limited The women’s clothing store announced in early January that it would close all brick-and-mortar stores, and later its parent company filed for bankruptcy. The parent company of women’s clothing store The Limited filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Court, and the store website has been taken offline. 2. Gymboree Children’s clothing retailer Gymboree Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, the latest sign of traditional retailers’ struggles as shoppers shun stores and buy online. The San Francisco-based company says it is seeking to reduce its debt by $900 million. It expects to operate its business and majority of its 1,300 stores during the restructuring. 3. BCBGMAXAZRIA The company, which owns BCBGMAXAZRIA, said in March it filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company obtained a commitment of $45 million from loan lenders in new financing and filed its plan of reorganization. 4. Wet Seal Teen clothing retailer Wet Seal abruptly closed all of its 148 brick-and-mortar stores in early 2017. According to a letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the retailer is permanently shutting down and will lay off all of its workers. The company is headquartered in California. In 2015, Wet Seal closed 338 of its 511 stores and filed for bankruptcy protection. Versa Capital then acquired the brand for $7.5 million in April 2015. 5. RadioShack The chain retailer announced in March it was filing for bankruptcy and closing about 200 of its stores and evaluating what to do with the remaining 1,300. This isn’t the first time RadioShack has filed for bankruptcy.  6. hhgregg Appliance store hhgregg announced in March it was closing 88 stores and laying off 1,500 employees. A month later, the company received court approval to close its remaining stores and liquidate its assets. 7. Gander Mountain Sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain Co. filed for bankruptcy in March. Gander Mountain and some of its subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code after the retailer “experienced traffic patterns and shifts in consumer demand resulting from increased direct-to-customer sales by key vendors and accelerated growth of e-commerce,” according to a company statement. 8. MC Sports MC Sports, legally known as Michigan Sporting Goods Distributors, announced in February its plans to begin liquidation sales of all of its 68 stores.  9. Aerosoles AGI HoldCo Inc., which owns Aerosoles stores, has filed for bankruptcy and plans to keep just four stores open in New York and New Jersey. The stores sell women’s shoes. The company expects the restructuring process to be completed in approximately four months. 10. Payless Kansas-based Payless ShoeSource announced in April that it would close nearly 400 underperforming locations in the U.S. Payless’ North American entities, and two of its Hong Kong-based entities, filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Hurricane Maria was upgraded to a Category 5 strength storm. Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said it slammed Dominica overnight as a category 5 storm, lost some strength and now has regained 160 mph winds and category 5 status. 'It is headed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands later tonight and early on Wednesday,' Minton said. 'This is a dangerous storm.' Minton said it's on the same path as Hurricane Irma, but models move it a bit to the east of the Bahamas in a few days. The Latest on tropical weather:  5:10 a.m. Hurricane Maria has regained Category 5 strength, upping its top wind speeds after it had briefly dropped to a Category 4 storm overnight near the island of Dominica. Our team of Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologists will be watching it carefully over the next several days. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says a hurricane hunter plane checking on Maria after it pounded that small Caribbean island says the storm strengthened anew early Tuesday and again has top sustained winds of 160 mph (260 kph). The storm was located early Tuesday about 65 miles (100 kilometers) west-southwest of another Caribbean island, Guadeloupe. It’s moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph). [DOWNLOAD: WSB-TV's news app for alerts on Hurricane Maria] Severe Weather Team 2 says a Category 5 hurricane is a major and extremely dangerous storm capable of catastrophic winds. They add that fluctuations in intensity were expected and that further strengthening is possible as the storm moves over warm Caribbean waters in coming hours and days.   NEW UPDATE MARIA: Hurricane Hunter Aircraft finds 160mph winds. Maria now CAT 5. Headed to Virgin Islands & P.R. pic.twitter.com/p2VCHTkHvS — Karen Minton (@KarenMintonWSB) September 19, 2017     Elsewhere, in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is producing dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. Forecasters say that storm is centered about 240 miles (390 kilometers) east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina — or about 365 miles (590 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. It’s moving to the north at 9 mph (15 kph) with top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). ___ 2:45 a.m. Hurricane Maria, after pounding Dominica with high winds, has weakened slightly to a still extremely dangerous Category 4 major storm. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Tuesday that top sustained winds had fallen slightly to 155 mph (250 kph). It says high winds are now beginning to diminish over Dominica and that the eye of Maria is now about 45 miles (70 kilometers) west-northwest of that small Caribbean island. The storm is moving west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph) on a course that threatens other areas of the Caribbean including Puerto Rico.   Latest Hurr Maria track to Puerto Rico & V.I. tonight with 155mph winds.Storm surge 6-9' ~25' rain possible. pic.twitter.com/5rtbAObHgn — Karen Minton (@KarenMintonWSB) September 19, 2017   Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose continues to move north over the Atlantic, churning up dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast of the United States. That storm was located at 2 a.m. about 395 miles (635 kilometers) south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. ___ 12:10 a.m. Hurricane Maria swept over the small island of Dominica with catastrophic winds overnight, starting a charge into the eastern Caribbean that threatens islands already devastated by Hurricane Irma and holds the possibility of a direct hit on Puerto Rico. Fierce winds and driving rain lashed mountainous Dominica for hours, causing flooding and tearing roofs from homes. A police official on the island, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, said late Monday that there were no immediate reports of casualties but it was still too dangerous for officers to do a full assessment as the storm raged outside. “Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview while hunkered down against the region’s second Category 5 hurricane this month.  
  • President Donald Trump will address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday with topics such as North Korea’s nuclear program, terrorism, and reform of the U.N. itself likely included in the speech. In brief remarks Trump made at the UN on Monday, he vowed the United States will be “partners in your work” while at the same time took the body to task saying, “We are not seeing the results in line with this investment.' Also on Monday, Trump called up an altered version of his campaign slogan when he promised to “make the United Nations great” - not ”again.” “Make the United Nations great.” Here is what you need to know about Trump's speech. What is it: Trump will deliver his first address to the full United Nations General Assembly. Leaders from 193 countries, or their representatives, attend the annual meeting. What time is the speech: Trump will address the General Assembly around 10:30 a.m. ET. What will he say: He is expected to talk about the nuclear threat from North Korea and from Iran; the instability in Venezuela and the fight against terrorism, according to The Associated Press. He is also expected to take a couple of swipes at the U.N. itself. Who won’t be there: Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the General Assembly, nor will China’s President Xi Jinping. What channel is it on: Cable news channels plan to air the speech live as does C-SPAN.
  • A fugitive convicted of a 2010 bank robbery was wearing a stethoscope around his neck and a fake surgeon ID badge when he was arrested Monday in Pittsburgh. Mark Huellen, 41, was spotted by sheriff’s deputies pulling away from a red light at a high rate of speed in the area of West Carson Street, near Station Square. He was stopped after he passed under the Fort Pitt Bridge. >> Read more trending news According to the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Huellen appeared to be nervous. It was easily determined that the ID badge Huellen was wearing was fake, according to a news release. It was “nothing more than something from a plastic label maker.” Huellen, who was wanted since June 28 by federal authorities for violating the conditions of his probation on the bank robbery conviction, was arrested. Read more at WPXI.com.