If you’re enjoying a beverage in the Touchdown Terrace this football season, you might run into the newest chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club.
Fred Ridley, who took over for the retiring Billy Payne on Wednesday, probably won’t be wearing a green jacket at Florida football games but he is a season ticket holder in the Terrace.
Ridley played golf at UF and is a 1974 graduate of the school. He also is a member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ridley, 65, becomes the seventh chairman of the club that annually puts on the prestigious Masters golf tournament and is considered one of the most exclusive golf clubs in America.
He is also the first chairman who played in the Masters, missing the cut three times.
Ridley’s UF career was less than decorated as he never made the postseason rotation while playing for coach Buster Bishop’s Gators. He was an alternate on Florida’s 1973 national title team that included All-Americans Andy Bean, Woody Blackburn, Ben Duncan, Phil Hancock and Gary Koch.
His greatest achievement on the course was a stunning win in the U.S. Amateur in 1975 when he beat Bean and Curtis Strange on the way to the 36-hole final where he beat Keith Fergus.
Former UF coach Buddy Alexander, himself a U.S. Amateur champion, has been friends with Ridley since their junior days in the Tampa Bay area.
“He’s a really good guy and he’s definitely a Gator all the way,” Alexander said. “He’s a guy who dedicated his life to the game of golf.”
Ridley is the former president of the USGA and had been the head of the rules committee for the Masters. He has a law firm in Tampa.
Payne, the former head of Atlanta’s Olympic Committee, was the chairman of Augusta National for 11 years and was instrumental in the land acquisitions that have expanded the property.