Fred Ridley, the Winter Haven native and University of Florida graduate was an alternate on the 1973 NCAA Championship Team at Florida along with Andy Bean, Woody Blackburn, Ben Duncan, Gary Koch and Kevin Morris. Instead of choosing golf, Fred went on to Stetson University to get his Juris Doctor degree. In 1975, he won the U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Virginia beating the favorites Andy Bean, Curtis Strange, on the the last day Keith Fergus in the 36 hole final, and is the last U. S. Amateur not to turn Pro. Before that awesome win, his biggest indivdiual victory was the Bartow Sheriff’s Villa Championship at the Bartow Golf Club in Polk County, Florida. He logged some time at International Management Group with Mark McCormack in Cleveland. Fred settled in Tampa and became a lawyer with the firm of Foley and Lardner., which he is now a partner. In 2004 he was elected President of the United States Golf Association.
Recently Billy Payne, the current Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, announced he is retiring on October 16 and Fred, who currently serves as Chairman of the Competition Committees at the Masters, will be assuming the role of Chairman of Augusta National.
During his tenure as Chairman, Payne was a collaborative presence, bringing together golf’s leading institutions to implement new ways to expand the reach of the game, such as his vision for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, Latin America Amateur Championship and the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held the Sunday before the Masters. Billy worked to make the sport more welcoming, including the addition of women into the Club’s membership and the creation of the popular Junior Pass Program during the Masters. In keeping with the tradition of constant improvement established by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, Payne directed the significant expansion and development of the Augusta National campus, leading to the creation and of numerous facilities and services enjoyed by the visitors, media and members to the tournament.
“The privilege I experienced serving as Chairman of Augusta National and the Masters was far greater than I could have ever imagined,” said Payne. ” Just as nothing can prepare you for the unique responsibilities and important decisions that come with the position, it is equally impossible to anticipate the many joys and, most importantly, the wonderful friendships that are the ultimate reward of service. This honor, however, is too great for one person to claim as their own for too long a period of time. I retire knowing it is simply the right thing to do and at the right moment- to open the door and invite Fred Ridley to be called upon to lead, bring forth new ideas and craft a new vision that will honor our Founders and serve the game of golf for many years to come.”
Fred has played in The Masters with Jack Nicklaus the first two days in 1976, because he won the Amateur and Jack was the 1975 Masters Champion. He has some common denominators with the great Bobby Jones: first, he won the U.S. Amateur, played in the Masters and British Open, never turned professional and was an attorney I want to wish our friend Fred Ridley congratulations on his new venture and wish him continued success. They could not have picked a more capable person and a genuinely great guy.