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Hey, thanks a lot, Polar Vortex–you just destroyed the most iconic tree in golf, asshole. Seriously, what have you been thinking all winter long with your totally unprecedented snowstorm action? There’s been more than a foot of snow on the ground outside my house for two weeks now, and it’s really starting to fuck a lot of things up for a lot of people.
Unfortunately, this “global warming” madness, which has given way to one of the roughest winters in recent memory for the East Coast, has claimed its most recent victim: Augusta National Golf Club.
During the weekend, as a result of mounting snow and ice that fractured many of its limbs, Augusta officials made the decision to remove the massive and historic Eisenhower Tree. The historic tree has resided on the fairway of the 17th–about 210 yards from the Masters tee–since the world’s most famous golf club opened in 1933.
Another last look at the world famous Eisenhower Tree, a once majestic loblolly pine. pic.twitter.com/3zz1QERb8a
— Scott Michaux (@ScottMichaux) February 17, 2014
Experts believe Ike’s tree was between 100 and 125 years old.
A tragic loss for golf, the tree is memorable for granting Tommy Aaron’s 1973 Masters victory following the “Lost Ball Incident“ that saw him outlast Jack Nicklaus by two strokes–it was the only major Aaron ever won. More recently, it was a shot from under the lowest hanging limb of the Eisenhower that saw Tiger Woods sustain the knee injury that kept him sidelined him for most of 2011.
The iconic tree garnered its name in 1956 when former club member and 34th President of the United States Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower suggested it be cut down. This suggestion stemmed from his proclivity to often hit the tree off the tee on the 17th.
Reflecting on the heartbreaking decision to have the sporting monument removed, Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National and the Masters, released a statement Sunday.
Like so many of our family, friends and neighbors in this community, Augusta National Golf Club has been busy cleaning up after the historic ice storm last week. Everyone affected remains in our hearts and prayers, and we likewise hope for a speedy and complete recovery for all.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
It’s a sad, sad day for golf–but also a great reminder that the Masters kicks off in just 51 days. It’ll be exciting to see how differently players tackle the 17th now that the behemoth, 65 foot loblolly pine is absent.