Augusta National is powerful enough to have its way on just about any issue, even ignoring the demands of a sitting U.S. President. But sometimes, Mother Nature is a more powerful force, and finally did something that Dwight D. Eisenhower couldn’t do.
After ice storm damage in early February, the club had to remove the Eisenhower Tree that for decades guarded the left side of the 17th fairway. The loblolly pine was severely damaged by that storm.
“We obtained opinions from the best arborists available,” club chairman Billy Payne told the Associated Press. “Unfortunately, we were advised that no recovery was possible.”
The tree was just over 200 yards from the 17th tee, and forced players to work around its huge canopy or work the ball from right to left to avoid it. Eisenhower, who was a member at the club for two decades and throughout his time in the White House, campaigned to have it removed because he sent so many tee shots into its branches.
Legendary club chairman Clifford Roberts overruled the sitting president and adjourned a famous 1956 club meeting, sending the 65-foot pine to legendary status in golf.
The tree prominently came into play recently in 2011 when Tiger Woods attempted a shot from the loose pinestraw beneath the tree. That’s when Woods injured his left knee and Achilles tendon in an awkward stance and swing, and he missed two majors that year.
Payne said the course had no other major damage and is open for members. The Masters begins on August 10 … minus one landmark tree.