William "Hootie" Johnson

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William "Hootie" Johnson
William Woodward Johnson

(1931-02-16)February 16, 1931
DiedJuly 14, 2017(2017-07-14) (aged 86)
Alma materUniversity of South Carolina
Occupationbusinessman, banker
Known forFormer chairman of the Bank of America executive committee, Augusta National Golf Club

William Woodward "Hootie" Johnson (February 16, 1931 – July 14, 2017) was the chairman of the executive committee at Bank of America, a member of the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, and a chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.

Early life and personal[edit]

Johnson was born to Dewey H. and Mabel (née Woodward) Johnson, in 1931 at Augusta, Georgia[1] and grew up in Greenwood, South Carolina, attending Greenwood High School. He attended the University of South Carolina on a football scholarship.[2]

Johnson was married to Pierrine Johnson and had four daughters, ten grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.[3] He died of congestive heart failure on July 14, 2017 at the age of 86.[4][5]

Banking career[edit]

After graduating, Johnson returned home and worked with his father at the Bank of Greenwood, which eventually evolved into the State Bank and Trust Company, and subsequently was renamed Bankers Trust of South Carolina in 1969. By 1965, Johnson had assumed control of the bank, and under his leadership, Bankers Trust of South Carolina rose from obscurity to become a high-performance, widely respected bank. Johnson served as chairman of the executive committee at Bank of America, and also a director of the company. He also served on the boards of Duke Power, Liberty Corporation, Alltel and Stephens, Inc.

Augusta National[edit]

As former chairman and current "Chairman Emeritus" of Augusta National Golf Club, Johnson held the chairmanship from 1998–2006 and directed two significant overhauls of the golf course,[6] allowed 18-hole network television coverage of the tournament for the first time,[6] and made significant changes in Masters qualifying procedures.[6] He was succeeded by Billy Payne.

2002 membership controversy[edit]

Johnson was widely known for a disagreement beginning in 2002 with Martha Burk, then chairwoman of the Washington-based National Council of Women's Organizations, over admission of female members to Augusta National.[3] Burk contended that hosting the Masters Tournament at a male-only club, constituted sexism[7] because 15% of the club's membership were CEO's, many of them Fortune 500 CEO's.[7] Johnson characterized Burk's approach as "offensive and coercive",[8][9] and despite efforts to conflate the issue with sexism and civil rights,[8] Johnson maintained the issue had to do with the rights of any private club.[8]

Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish.[10]

For her part, Burk — whose childhood nickname was also Hootie[11] — was "called a man hater, anti-family, lesbian, all the usual things."[7] For his part, according to former CEO and Chairman of Bank of America, Hugh McColl (friend[12] and member of Augusta National[13]), Johnson was portrayed as a Senator Claghorn type[12] — i.e., a blustery defender of all things Southern.[14]

Following the discord, which included Burk's launching a now defunct website augustadiscriminates.org,[11] two club members resigned, Thomas H. Wyman, a former CEO of CBS, and John Snow, when President George W. Bush nominated him to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.[7] The International Olympic Committee, upon considering golf an Olympic sport in 2016, re-examined whether the sport itself fits the goal of a "sport practiced without discrimination with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."[15]

In 2012, Johnson nominated Darla Moore to become a member of Augusta National; Darla Moore and Condoleeza Rice became the first two female members of Augusta National.[16]

Political career[edit]

Johnson was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives during 1957 and 1958. He also was a trustee of historically black Benedict College. Johnson served as former board member of the National Urban League; served as co-chairman of committee that developed a plan to desegregate universities in South Carolina, and in 1975, received the Outstanding Citizen Award from B'nai B'rith.[17] He had supported African-Americans for public office.[12] As a banker, he had appointed African-Americans and women to his corporate boards.[12] He made loans to minorities.[12] Following the 1968 Orangeburg massacre (in which three South Carolina State University students were killed by state troopers while participating in civil rights protests), Johnson had worked on a desegregation plan for the state's colleges and universities.[12] Johnson had also been the first businessman who pushed to have the Confederate flag removed from the state house in Columbia.[12]

Johnson also served as chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, chairman of the South Carolina Research Authority, and trustee of the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ a b "Sports of The Times; Hootie Is Handling the Heat on the Eve of the Masters". The New York Times, Dave Anderson, April 10, 2003. April 10, 2003.
  4. ^ "Former Masters Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson dies". The Augusta Chronicle. July 14, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  5. ^ "William W. "Hootie" Johnson's Obituary on The State". The State. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  6. ^ a b c "Johnson Steps Down As Augusta Chairman". The Washington Post, Leonard Shapiro, May 6, 2006. May 6, 2006.
  7. ^ a b c d "Women of the Year 2003 Martha Burk". Ms Magazine, Mariah Burton Nelson, December 2003.
  8. ^ a b c "An interview with Augusta's Hootie Johnson". USAtoday, Doug Ferguson, AP, 11/11/2002. November 11, 2002.
  9. ^ "Augusta defends male-only members policy". Golf Today, Year to Date News, 2002.
  10. ^ "A Master's Challenge". PBS Online Newshour, February 20, 2003.
  11. ^ a b "Hootie vs. Hootie". National Review, Jay Nordlinger, January 27, 2003.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Augusta leader's record defies image". USAtoday, Harry Blauvelt, 10/21/2002. October 21, 2002.
  13. ^ "Corporate club nears final stage". The Augusta Chronicle, Ward Clayton, 04/06/99.
  14. ^ "GOLF; Women's Group Lobbies Seven of Augusta's Members". The New York Times, Richard Sandomir, September 28, 2002. September 28, 2002.
  15. ^ "Is Golf Unethical?". The New York Times, Randy Cohen, August 18, 2009. August 18, 2009.
  16. ^ "Hootie Johnson: I nominated Moore to join club". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-07-16.
  17. ^ "Just Who Is Hootie Johnson?". Offwing Opinion.com, September 5, 2002.