'Hootie' Johnson, chairman emeritus of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament died Friday a the age of 86.
Johnson was named chairman of Augusta National in May of 1998, and presided over the club for eight years.
Current chairman Billy Payne released a statement Friday afternoon:
"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."
Johnson was also the retired chairman of the executive committee of Bank of America.
Additionally, Johnson was a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, serving in the late 50s, a trustee of Benedict College, a former board member of the National Urban League, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, chairman of the South Carolina Research Authority and a trustee of the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation.
Bob Jones IV, grandson of Augusta National founder Bobby Jones, released a statement Friday afternoon:
On behalf of the family of Bobby Jones, we are sorry to hear of the passing of Hootie Johnson. In addition to his career as a businessman and his tenure as chairman at Augusta National, Hootie was a man of tremendous principal and vision. He was consistently kind both to me and my family, and we will miss him. We are grateful for all that he did to promote the legacy of our grandfather.
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