I Wish We Had Allowed Women Sooner - Augusta National Chairman

Fred Ridley addressed the media on the eve of the Masters and expressed how he wished women members were allowed sooner

Fred Ridley addresses the media at Augusta National
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fred Ridley, the Chairman of the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club, has addressed the media on the eve of the tournament and expressed how he wished the club had accepted women members sooner.

Since its inception in 1932, Augusta National was a male-only golf club but that changed in 2012 when then-Chairman, Billy Payne, opened the doors to two female members - former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and South Carolina Financier, Darla Moore. The pair joined a series of famous members at Augusta National and the club has continued to accept female members. 

Ten years on, Ridley reflected on that decision "I don't know about you, but when anything happens or any idea that you had turns out well and you're pleased about it, initiative, whatever, you might always say, well, why didn't we do that sooner?  And that's a fair, that's a fair thought. And so I wish - I wish we had have."

The Chairman continued by describing the importance and pivotal role they play within Augusta National Golf Club: "Women members are a very important part of our membership, and you will continue to see over the years, if you look, more green jackets that are women.  I'm going to make sure of that.

"We have a number of women members who we are delighted are part of our organization. I think you know, certainly, who some of them are. They have been great contributors to our organization, both I would say substantively and things they are doing to help us, both with the Masters and otherwise."

As well as welcoming female members, the club introduced the Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2019. With its introduction, Payne stated it would have the "greatest impact on women's golf." The tournament is undoubtedly a highlight on the golfing calendar, as demonstrated when 16-year old Anna Davis produced a superb three-under-par final round to secure a one shot victory; earning a spot in the US Women's Open and Women's British Open along the way.

The tournament is held just a week prior to the LPGA Tour's first Major of the season, the Chevron Championship, which has historically invited top-amateurs to compete. The scheduling was discussed prior to its introduction on the basis that it would act as an enhancement to women's golf. Unfortunately, as part of a long-term commitment with NBC Sports and with a new title sponsor at the helm, the tournament will move away from Mission Hills and to a later date in the schedule. 

Lexi Thompson described jumping into Poppie's Pond as "one of the best memories" in her career after she won her first Major title in 2014. The move was met with firm words from former LPGA Tour pro, Christina Kim, who branded it "disgusting."

James Hibbitt

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.