Golfers recount drama, worries as wind blew down trees

Patrons aren't the only ones who witnessed trees falling during the Masters on Friday. It concerned the players, too.
Published: Apr. 8, 2023 at 10:52 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2023 at 1:56 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There’s not much left of the trees that fell Friday on the course at Augusta National Golf Club, crushing chairs but miraculously injuring no one.

If you didn’t know something happened there as the second round of the Masters was being played, you might easily miss it.

Three separate areas near the 16th green and 17th tee are roped off this morning with some wood chips left from where workers quickly cut them up yesterday. Two of the areas are covered with green gravel and another with pine straw.

One area where a smaller tree fell is 10 feet by 10 feet while another is 10 feet by 15 feet. The area where the third tree fell is roped off in a hexagon shape with about 6-8 feet to each side.

At their closest point to the gallery, the trees fell about 30 feet from patrons.

Several workers around the area were still discussing what happened, and one called it “a miracle” that no one was injured or killed when the trees came down as winds whipped up when bad weather blew in.

Staff members said the debris from the trees was gone before sunset last night.

Masters competitor Larry Mize, an Augusta native who once worked at Augusta National, talked about the tree incident Saturday.

“I’ve never seen anything like that on the golf course. I’ve seen branches fall, big branches. I remember being at Spyglass one time out in California when a big branch fell, which was scary, but nothing like this,” he said. “This is just – thank God that nobody got hurt. It’s just a miracle that nobody got hurt.”

Sahith Theegala, who is playing in his first Masters, said: “We were cresting the fairway on 15. We thought it was a scoreboard or a grandstand. We were hoping it wasn’t something that hit anybody.”

On Saturday, player Seamus Power recalled the incident.

“We were walking up 13 fairway and we heard like the screams and it sounded like a grandstand to us, which was really strange,” he said.

“I’m just so happy that everyone was OK and unhurt, which was a shocking. I mean, you saw the mark on ground even across 17 there, it was, yeah, amazing that mainly that everyone’s OK,” he said.

After he saw the location Saturday, he said: “It was like the mark, where the trees had come up were pretty well covered, but it was obviously a dent in the ground going right across. But like it was pretty impressive the lack of, whatever you call it, imprint that was there. But it was, yeah it’s amazing. I’m glad everyone’s OK.”

On the nearby 16th green, Harrison Crowe saw the tree falling and started to backpedal in surprise, while on the 15th green, Sergio Garcia stopped and stared at what seemed to be happening in slow motion.

Saturday morning, Garcia teed off at the 17th as he finished his second round, and the 2017 champion strained his head over patrons as he began walking toward his shot to see where the trees once stood.

Patrons depart the course after trees blew over on the 17th hole during the second round of the...
Patrons depart the course after trees blew over on the 17th hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 7, 2023, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)(Mark Baker | AP)

Around the time the trees came down, Augusta National announced that play was being suspended and the grounds would be evacuated.

Then around 5:45 p.m., Masters organizers issued this statement:

“Augusta National Golf Club can confirm that no injuries were reported from three trees that were blown over to the left of the No. 17 tee due to wind. The safety and well-being of everyone attending the Masters Tournament will always be the top priority of the Club. We will continue to closely monitor weather today and through the Tournament.”

The grounds had already been evacuated once earlier in the day.

Augusta National had suspended play at 3:07 p.m. as bad weather bore down on the area, but play resumed at 3:28. That 3:07 p.m. suspension happened about two hours after weather warning signs went up. A large number of patrons left in a steady exodus after those signs went up.

Rain and storms had been in the forecast for days, casting a literal dark cloud over the tournament.