Augusta loses Eisenhower Tree
Augusta National (Getty Images)
Augusta - The Eisenhower Tree, an iconic century-old loblolly pine on the 17th hole at Augusta National, was removed from the Masters course due to ice storm damage, club chairman Billy Payne said on Sunday.
Icy weather struck the southeast United States on Wednesday, causing power outages and severe tree damage, notably at Augusta, Georgia, the annual venue of golf's first major tournament.
The disappointing loss of the famed pine, however, was the only significant setback at the course ahead of this year's Masters, slated for April 10-13.
"The golf course sustained no major damage otherwise," Payne said.
"We are now open for member play and we will be unaffected in our preparations for the 2014 Masters."
The tree, which stood about 65 feet high, stood about 210 yards off the 17th tee to the left-center of the fairway.
It drew its name from the late US President Dwight Eisenhower, who had been a member at Augusta National and had proposed cutting down the tree because he hit into it so often, but the idea was dismissed.
Due to irreparable damage that included the loss of most of its major branches, the tree was finally toppled this weekend, Payne said.
"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."
That does not mean that Augusta will not have something in place in the same area to challenge players at this year's tournament.
"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 said.
The Eisenhower Tree got its name from the former USA president hitting into it so often. (Getty Images)