Eisenhower’s Trees goes – 45 years after Ike
Former US president’s golfing bete noire bites the dust following Augusta ice storm
Augusta National’s famed Eisenhower Tree can be seen on the left side of the fairway in this file photograph of Tiger Woods teeing off at the 17th hole during the 2005 US Masters at Augusta National. Photograph: Shaun Best/Reuters
Eisenhower’s deep distaste for a sprawling loblolly pine tree, 210 yards distant and to the left off the 17th tee at Augusta National Golf Club, was such that he campaigned for it to be cut down. The reasoning for this was simple: Eisenhower, an Augusta member, kept hitting tee shots into the tree.
In keeping with Augusta’s tradition of not bowing to even those in high office, Eisenhower’s 1956 bid was swiftly rejected at a meeting of club council. (Dwight D “Ike” Eisenhower had been an Augusta member since 1948.)
On Sunday, it was announced that a severe spell of weather in Augusta had claimed a famous victim. The landmark affectionately named “Eisenhower’s Tree” has been removed, after spells of snow and wind culminated in an ice storm which damaged its branches beyond repair.
“Like so many of our family, friends and neighbours in this community, Augusta National Golf Club has been busy cleaning up after the historic ice storm last week,” said Billy Payne, the club’s chairman.
“Everyone affected remains in our hearts and prayers, and we likewise hope for a speedy and complete recovery for all.
“The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept. We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible.
“We have begun deliberations of the best way to address the future of the 17th hole and to pay tribute to this iconic symbol of our history. Rest assured, we will do both appropriately.”
The planting of another tree, therefore, is entirely possible. As is the placement of a plaque marking this iconic site at the host venue of the Masters. Those running Augusta National have proved perfectly capable down the years of making modern alterations look like parts of ancient history.
With the first golfing major of the year now less than two months away, Payne insisted preparations had been unaffected aside from the Eisenhower Tree removal.
Although most modern Masters competitors had the ability and power not to have been troubled by the tree, Tiger Woods once had cause to share the former president’s sentiment. In 2011, Woods played a shot from an awkward position underneath the tree and duly injured both his left knee and achilles.
Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters winner, said: “The Eisenhower Tree was such an iconic fixture and symbol of tradition at Augusta National. It was such an integral part of the game and one that will be sorely missed.
“Over the years, it’s come into play many, many times on the 17th hole. When I stood on the 17th tee, my first thought, always, was to stay away from Ike’s Tree. I hit it so many times over the years that I don’t care to comment on the names I called myself and the names I might have called the tree. Ike’s Tree was a kind choice. But looking back, Ike’s Tree will be greatly missed.” –