For golfers competing at Augusta National Golf Club in the upcoming Masters this April, the course just got a little bit easier.
The Eisenhower Tree, an enormous loblolly pine that has famously annoyed golfers ranging from President Eisenhower to Tiger Woods, was cut down this weekend after suffering severe damage from the recent snow and ice storm.
The tree, known as Ike’s tree, was removed because the weight of the ice tore down some of its major branches and arborists told Augusta National Golf Club that the tree could not survive, said Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.
The landmark, which towered over the fairway of the 17th hole, has been cut down and carted away, Payne said in a statement Sunday.
“The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept,” Payne said. “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.”
Standing at 65 feet, this loblolly pine was about 100 to 125 years old, the club said.
In 1956, a frustrated Eisenhower proposed to cut the tree down, according to the club. An avid golfer and a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, Eisenhower was vexed because he frequently hit into the tree. But at a meeting of the club’s governors, the president’s proposal was ruled out of order, the club said.
Since then, the tree has been regarded as a landmark but for golfers — and a challenge.
Even Tiger Woods, back in 2011, suffered injuries to his left knee and Achilles tendon while hitting a shot under the Eisenhower Tree, according to The Augusta Chronicle.
The Eisenhower Tree wasn’t’ the only one that had to be removed after the weekend’s ice storm.
“I saw trees that were even uprooted, so we got chainsaws and cut down trees that fell on bridges and trees due to the magnitude of the ice,” Sgt. Michael Shane McDaniel of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said. “I can’t remember going through anything like this in 40 years.”
The community and the sheriff’s department are still working to clean up the damage from the storm, McDaniel said.
“I can report that the golf course sustained no major damage otherwise. We are now open for member play and we will be unaffected in our preparations for the 2014 Masters Tournament, ” Payne said.