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February 17, 2014

Augusta National removes 'Eisenhower Tree' after ice storm

ATLANTA — Dwight Eisenhower's wish was finally granted — 45 years after his death.

A 65-foot tree named after the president on the 17th hole at Augusta National Golf Club was removed over the weekend after sustaining "irreparable damage" during an ice storm at the home of the Masters Tournament.

Billy Payne, chairman of the private club in Augusta, Ga., said in a statement that the tree had lost most of its major branches and was unable to be saved.

"The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept," Payne said. "We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible."

The Loblolly Pine tree, which the club estimates at up to 125 years old, was about 210 yards from the 17th tee on the left side of the fairway. The tree's position often made tee shots on the course's penultimate hole more difficult.

Eisenhower, a former club member, hit his ball into the tree so often that he lobbied to have it removed, according to the club. When Eisenhower proposed cutting it down during a club's governors meeting in 1956, former Chairman Clifford Roberts ruled him out of order and adjourned the meeting, according to the club. The tree has been linked to Eisenhower ever since.

Payne said the course sustained no other major damage and will be unaffected for April's Masters, the first of golf's four annual major tournaments.

The club didn't disclose details on whether it would replace the tree or if changes would be made to the hole.

"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," Payne said. "Rest assured, we will do both appropriately."

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