5 takeaways from Chairman Ridley’s Press Conference       

John Shortt

Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament Fred Ridley speaks to members of the media in a pre-event press conference ahead of practice round 3 at Augusta National Golf Club, Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

1. Augusta National will have a Hospitality Programme from 2024 – register your interest fast as demand will far outstrip supply.

In what will undoubtedly have people logging onto Masters.com in double quick time it was announced that there will be hospitality available for the first time in 2024. Given how well they do everything else in Augusta you can only imagine how this is going to look and feel and you have to think it will be the hottest ticket in golf next year!

“Work is underway to introduce the tournament’s first official hospitality programme outside our gates. This facility will be located across Washington Road, just a short walk to the North Gate. We plan to unveil the first phase of this exciting offering next year, which underscores our commitment to meet the evolving expectations of our Patrons and guests.


“We are confident demand for this offering will far exceed the supply of tickets, and beginning today we are collecting information on Masters.com for those who are interested. Further details will become available in the coming months.”

2. Investment in and commitment to the local Augusta community remains paramount via the Masters Tournament Foundation.

All Augusta National members carry a small green card around with them which basically says they are committed to their community. They have consistently invested in the community and have now announced a major programme at Augusta Municipal Golf Course.

“Less than two miles away at the Augusta Municipal Golf Course, “The Patch,” as the course is fondly known, has built a legendary reputation among locals as a place where the game is introduced and taught and where diversity is celebrated and where friendships are forged. All would agree The Patch is a valued community asset.

“Our commitment to the Augusta community equals our commitment to the game of golf. I’m therefore proud to announce today Augusta National’s intent to support a joint partnership with The Patch, Augusta Technical College and the First Tee of Augusta to usher in a new era for public golf in our city.

“Initially, there will be three components to this program. First, under the leadership of Dr. Jermaine Whirl, all rights with Augusta Tech, will instill formal education programs that produce the next generation of golf’s workforce. These initiatives will be aligned with those in place of the First Tee of Augusta, which will link these two facilities for the first time and expand their collective reach within the community.

“Most importantly, the resulting synergies will produce innovative programming, provide an affordable and welcoming pathway for anyone who wants to learn the game. And finally, we will assist in the master planning and renovation of both courses to present a public golf experience for residents and visitors to pursue a lifelong relationship with the game.

“We can’t wait to get started with this partnership. We hope it will be a model for other communities.”

3. ‘Not a practical solution’ response to old comments that The Masters Tournament could have its own golf ball as part of the distance debate.

In 2005, then Chairman of Augusta National, Hootie Johnson, commented on The Masters possibly having its own ball for the Tournament saying, “It’s an option we would not want to take off the table. We’re hopeful the governing bodies will do something about what almost everyone in golf considers to be a serious problem.”

This time around though, Chairman Ridley commented, “I don’t think that’s a practical solution. I mean, I know — I’m very familiar with Hootie Johnson’s comments, as you all are, about 20 years ago. I think Hootie was trying to make a point; that’s something that, if we decided we wanted to do it, we could do it. But I don’t think it’s a practical solution.”

4. Greg Norman wasn’t invited to this year’s Masters to keep the focus on the Tournament.

Greg Norman has been in the media this week bemoaning how he wasn’t afforded an invitation to this year’s Masters Tournament. The outspoken Australian of course is the CEO of LIV Golf and given the current situation in golf and the media scrutiny that has followed it, The Masters Tournament did not extend an invitation to Norman to attend this year.

“We did not extend an invitation to Mr. Norman. The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world, which, by our decision in December, we ensured that we were going to honour and be consistent with our invitation criteria.

“I would also add that, in the last ten years, Greg Norman has only been here twice, and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio.

“It really was to keep the focus on the competition.”

5. 13th hole changes should lead to more challenging shots for big hitters

Having added 35 yards to the 13th hole known as Azalea for this year’s Masters Tournament there have been questions as to whether that will take some of the drama out of the hole with less players going for it in two?

“I think a lot of that really depends on the weather. Anecdotally, I mean, I have information from several players who have played practice rounds in the fall and early spring. I played two weeks ago with Scottie Scheffler; he hit a 5-iron into the hole one day. So while I think you may be right that the data will show that more players will lay up, I think for a still large number who will go for the green in two, I think it’s going to be a much more challenging and a much more exciting shot.

“And I certainly look forward on Sunday to having someone in competition with a 3- or 4-iron in their hand or even a hybrid hitting their shot into the 13th hole rather than an 8-iron. I think on balance it’s going to prove to be the right decision.”

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