A Masters gallery official points to the former location where the iconic Eisenhower tree once loomed over the 17th fairway at Augusta National GC photographed on Monday, April 7, 2014. The Eisenhower tree was removed following an ice storm earlier in the year which damaged the tree. (USA TODAY Sports: Jack Gruber)
AUGUSTA — Tiger Woods is not the only icon missing from this year’s Masters.
Augusta National’s famed Eisenhower Tree, which stood for years on the 17th fairway, was removed after being damaged by an ice storm in February.
The loblolly pine got its name because former U.S. president and club member Dwight Eisenhower hit into the tree so often he campaigned to have it chopped down.
Augusta National officials were so distraught when they realized the tree could not be saved that they issued an obituary.
At a course where every tiniest detail is taken care of, from the perfectly manicured fairways and greens, the ponds and streams and azaleas, the loss of the tree is no trivial matter.
Yet the members are still not sure whether they will replace it.
“We do not yet have a definitive plan as to what, if anything, we will do to the 17th hole beyond this year’s tournament,” Masters chairman Billy Payne told a news conference on Wednesday.
“We are closely examining play and scoring on the hole this week, and will make a decision after careful observation and consideration.”
While the Eisenhower Tree was the biggest casualty of this year’s storms, dozens of other trees were damaged, leaving some parts of the course looking a little barer than usual.
“Thankfully, the ice damage was essentially limited to our trees and required a Herculean effort to trim and remove branches and significant debris. Thankfully the course itself, was not damaged,” said Payne.
“There are some areas that will over this summer, as soon as this summer, have some significant, immediate planning.
“Others that will take longer, either because we’re going to wait and see, or we can’t find specimens large enough to really make the difference. But we still think it’s beautiful.”