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Thursday May 26th, 2016 3:21AM

Augusta National's famed Eisenhower Tree falls victim to ice storm

By Ken Stanford Reporter
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The Eisenhower Tree, so much a part of Augusta National that not even a sitting U.S. president could have it taken down, was removed from the 17th hole this weekend because of damage from an ice storm, the club said Sunday.

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

With the Masters only two months away, Payne said there was no other significant damage to the course.

The loblolly pine, which sat about 210 yards off the left of the 17th fairway, was among the most famous trees in golf. It forced players to aim away from the tree or try to shape the ball from right-to-left to avoid it.

And it infuriated one of the club members after whom the tree eventually was named - former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He hit the tree so often that he recommended in 1956 that it be taken down. Clifford Roberts, the club chairman and co-founder, denied his request.

It has been known as Eisenhower's Tree ever since.

The tree was believed to be more than a century old, standing 65-feet high and presenting an intimidating obstacle. The ice storm from last week caused the tree to lose a significant amount of major limbs.

"We have begun deliberations of the best way to address the future of the 17th hole and to pay tribute to his iconic symbol of our history," Payne said. "Rest assured, we will do both appropriately."

Payne said Augusta National made it through the storm without any other major damage and is open for its members to play. He said the club will not be affected in its preparations for the Masters, which starts April 10.

Players typically start going to Augusta National over the next several weeks for practice rounds.
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