(October 16, 2017) Starting today, Fred Ridley began serving as the seventh Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. To mark the occasion following the announcement of his appointment in August, Ridley released the following statement:
“Throughout my life, Bobby Jones has been my idol and role model. I remember meeting Clifford Roberts during my first visit to Augusta National as an amateur invitee more than four decades ago. So to become Chairman of Augusta National and the Masters is beyond humbling. I stand ready to embrace the responsibilities that come with this important position, strengthened by the lessons the sport teaches and the example of those who have provided leadership to me over the years.
“As Chairman, I will always look to Jones and Roberts as a source of wisdom and inspiration. I fully subscribe to their mandate of constant improvement and their commitment to maintaining the highest standard in all that we do. I pledge to use my deep-rooted respect for the customs and traditions they established to further elevate our Club and Tournament, while continuing their mission of contributing to the development of the sport around the world.
“I would like to thank Billy Payne, our esteemed Chairman Emeritus, who appointed me as his successor. His confidence in allowing me this honor has already had a profound impact on my life. I am grateful to consider him a friend and mentor, both personally and professionally.”
Ridley is now just the seventh Chairman in the Club’s 85-year history. He became a member in 2000 and began serving as Chairman of the Tournament’s Competition Committees in 2007.
A Florida native, Ridley, 65 (August 16, 1952), is a resident of Tampa. He was born in Lakeland and was raised in Winter Haven. He is a business lawyer and a partner in the international law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP where he served on the firm’s management committee from 2007-14. Presently, he is the national chair of the firm’s real estate practice. He was recognized by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers (2004-17) and has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© for his real estate work. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Stetson University College of Law. He and his wife Betsy have three daughters, Maggie, Libby and Sydney.
Uniquely, he is the only Chairman to have ever competed in the Masters, having been invited three times during his impressive amateur career. He qualified in 1976 and 1977 by virtue of his victory at the 1975 U.S. Amateur Championship and played again in 1978 as a member of the 1977 Walker Cup Team. It was during his first Masters appearance when he met Roberts, and has been acquainted with every Chairman since.
He competed in numerous national and international championships, including 10 U.S. Amateurs. He was a member of the 1976 U.S. Amateur World Team and was the captain of the 1987 and 1989 U.S. Walker Cup Teams and the 2010 U.S. World Amateur Team. He remains the last U.S. Amateur champion never to have turned professional.
He served on the USGA Executive Committee from 1994-2005 and was elected as the 58th president of the USGA for 2004-05. During those two years, he was co-chair of the World Amateur Golf Council (now the International Golf Federation). In 2006, he was the recipient of the PGA of America’s Distinguished Service Award.