Apparently the Eisenhower Tree wasn't the only victim of last month's ice storm that moved through Augusta National Golf Club.
Before he left for Georgia for his first scouting trip to the course this week, reigning U.S. Open champion Justin Rose shared with Golf Magazine some insight from former Ryder Cup teammate Peter Hanson, who recently played the course. The picture that Hanson painted for Rose was not a pretty one.
"He said you wouldn't recognize it. He said the ice storm has shredded all the leaves from all the trees," Rose explained. "He said from the 11th hole you could see all the way to the clubhouse. Apparently all the trees look dead. It's a bit of a shame."
After playing a round at Augusta National with Matthew Fitzpatrick on Thursday, however, Rose said rumors that the course would be unrecognizable were greatly exaggerated: “I didn’t see any of that myself,” he said. “It was playing up to tournament speed. The only thing I noticed was that the azaleas hadn’t popped yet, but they have ways of controlling those things around here, and I’m sure they will do that during tournament week.”
The storm swept across northern Georgia six weeks ago, prompting Augusta National chairman Billy Payne to announce on Feb. 16 that the towering Eisenhower Tree that once guarded the 17th fairway was too damaged to preserve. During the same announcement, Payne noted that the club sustained "no major damage otherwise" and that preparations for the season's first major would be "unaffected."
The first round of the Masters will begin April 10, just 13 days from today.