AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Eisenhower Tree was removed from the left side of Augusta National’s 17th fairway two months ago and, although the hole looks drastically different, opinions vary on whether the spot should be filled.
But, no opinions are more valuable than those of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – golf’s Big Three who own a combined 13 green jackets and each hit a ceremonial tee shot early Thursday at the Masters.
“I think I would probably put a tree right back where the tree was and try to get it about as similar as it was when it was taken out,” Palmer said.
Nicklaus and Player disagree.
“It does look a little naked,” Nicklaus said. “I think the statistics show that I think there’s been an average of maybe five or six balls have hit the tree a year by bad shots. It affected the membership far more.
“I personally think that the hole needs definition a little further up, not back.”
Said Player: “There’s never been a tree that’s been so significant in golf.
“I think the tree, as much respect as I had for the name attached to the tree, I think it’s best that the tree does not be put back.”