Comfortable and at peace. That was how Masters chairman Billy Payne appeared to Golf World Editor-in-Chief Jaime Diaz on Tuesday when the two met in Payne’s office for a sit-down interview at Augusta National Golf Club, a day prior to Payne’s announcement that he was retiring as club chairman, effective in October.
“I had never spoken to the chairman one-on-one like that,” Diaz said. “You know, I was a little trepidatious about how formal it might be, or if in any way it was going to be stiff, and it wasn’t. It was just the opposite. For whatever reason, I felt very comfortable immediately. And I think that’s one of his gifts.”
On this week’s Golf Digest Podcast, Diaz discusses his conversation and the story he subsequently wrote for the website in which he assesses Payne’s time at Augusta. Given the number of things achieved in Payne’s 11-plus years, Diaz comes to the conclusion that his was the most influential tenure since that of co-founder Clifford Roberts.
In addition to running through Payne’s various accomplishments, Diaz explains why he thinks Payne chose to step down now and what to expect from his soon-to-be successor, former USGA president Fred Ridley.