The Eisenhower Tree is one of the most famous obstacles in all of golf, and now the famed tree on the 17th hole at Augusta National is no more.
On Sunday the club announced that the tree had suffered so much damage as a result of last week’s ice storm in the area that it had to be removed. There was apparently no significant damage to the rest of the course, but the tree that even a sitting president of the United States couldn’t get rid of is now gone.
Club chairman Billy Payne issued the following statement about the decision to remove the tree:
“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.”
The Eisenhower Tree was a loblolly pine that sat roughly 210 yards off the left of the 17th fairway. It was arguably the most famous tree in all of golf. Players either had to hit over the 65-foot tree to keep the ball in the fairway or try to swing the ball from right to left to avoid it.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a member at Augusta from 1948 until his death in 1969 and was said to have hit the tree so often on his tee shot that he lobbied to have it removed. During an Augusta National governors’ meeting in 1956 he proposed to have it removed. That came as he was finishing the first of his two terms as president.
Clifford Roberts, the club chairman and co-founder overruled Eisenhower’s request and adjourned the meeting, putting an end to the debate. Ever since that day it has been known as the Eisenhower Tree.
Six-time Masters winner and Augusta National member Jack Nicklaus issued the following statement in response to the news:
“The Eisenhower Tree is 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. Period. 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.”
The Masters is only two months away (it starts on April 1o), so for this year there will likely be nothing standing where the famous pine stood. But there could be something planted as a replacement in the near future.