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Former Masters Chairman Johnson Passes At 86

Word out of Augusta, Georgia is that the "beloved Chairman Emeritus" of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters golf tournament passed away Friday afternoon at the age of 86.

The South Carolina banking executive and golf icon was Chairman of the club from 1998-2006 and ushered in the era of overhauling 14 of the 18 holes on the course- answering the industry's technological advances with a 7,445-yard layout. He also re-worked the rules of entry for the tournament and also was front and center in the discussion of allowing television partners to broadcast the full 18 holes for coverage.

Perhaps his tenure is most remembered for his response to the protests of Martha Burk for the club's stance for not allowing women as members back in 2002.

Here's how CNN covered the story at the time...

Johnson, facing the public criticism, decided to have the tournament air sponsor-free for two seasons as the protests faded.

Here's part of the statement from current club and tournament Chairman Billy Payne, thanks to the Augusta Chronicle:

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.

More when we know more...

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