Hootie Johnson, the South Carolina banker and Augusta National chairman who stubbornly stood his ground amid pressure for the club to invite female members, died Friday morning. He was 86.
Augusta National announced his death and celebrated the sweeping changes to the Masters during his eight years as chairman. But it was his battle with Martha Burk and her National Council of Women’s Organizations that defined his legacy at the Masters.
Burk wrote to Johnson in 2002 and urged Augusta National to invite female members so that it wouldn’t become an issue at the Masters.
In a blistering, three-page statement to reporters, Johnson said women might one day be invited, but it would be on the club’s timetable and “not at the point of a bayonet.” That became a symbol of his resolve as Johnson and Augusta National dug in deep against relentless media pressure.
He went so far as to drop the Masters’ television sponsors — IBM, Coca-Cola…