Sports Outside the Beltway

Hootie Johnson Stepping Down at Augusta

Those nagging women won’t have Hootie Johnson to kick around anymore.

Billy Payne, who ran the Atlanta Olympics a decade ago, is replacing Hootie Johnson as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. The 75-year-old Johnson had served in the role since 1998, most prominently turning back demands that women be allowed to join the club. Johnson also ordered two major overhauls of the course, adding 460 yards — making it the second-longest test in major championship history — to counter rapidly improving equipment and longer-hitting players.

A South Carolina native and member of the club since 1968, Johnson is relinquishing his title on May 21 and moving into the role of chairman emeritus. Payne will become the sixth chairman in club history. “The tournament is successful by any measure and will continue to grow,” Johnson said in a statement. “I know I leave the championship in very capable hands.”

The 58-year-old Payne has headed the Masters media committee since 2000. “It’s an honor to be the new chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters tournament,” he said in the statement. “Hootie did a wonderful job as chairman, and I will endeavor to maintain the customs and traditions of our club as established by (co-founders) Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones.”

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