One of Augusta National’s most iconic features will be missing from this year’s Masters following the enforced removal of the course’s famous Eisenhower Tree.
It is not just Irish golf courses having to cope with extreme weather conditions this winter with the home of the year’s opening major championship in Georgia subjected to an ice storm that caused irreparable damage to the tree which stood on the 17th fairway.
The loblolly pine, named after the former US President Dwight Eisenhower whose ball struck it so many times off the 17th tee that he asked for its removal, finally got the chop courtesy of the climate rather than executive orders with Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne explaining the tree lost “most major branches” and was removed at the weekend.
“The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept,” Payne said. “We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible.”
The chairman said no major damage was caused elsewhere on the course and preparations for April’s 2014 Masters would be unaffected by the ice storm.
“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,” Payne added. Asked for his views on what Augusta National might do at the 17th, 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson, who on Sunday won the Northern Trust Open, his first tournament since claiming the Green Jacket two seasons ago, said: “It seems like they’ll put a tree or something there. Again, they’re not asking me, but that’s what I would do if they asked me.
“I’d say, ‘Why wouldn’t you put some other kind of tree there or something.’”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved