2014 Masters: Eisenhower Tree Removal Will Change The Game

Posted on April 8, 2014 | in 2014 Masters, Defects, Golf, Sports, Waiting | by
ikes tree eisenhower

The Eisenhower Tree, also known as Ike’s Tree, stood as a vertical bunker in the 17th fairway of Augusta National Golf Club. (Augusta Chronicle)

Imagine a manufacturing process that has operated in mostly the same way every year. The same suppliers, the same machines, the same internal process steps. Extremely consistent inputs and outputs, no surprises. Maybe technology improves here or there, operators come and go, internal process step changes save a bit of time or reduce defects, but no significant changes over the years. You know what to expect every time until one day you discover a new, cheaper, and closer domestic supplier to one of the most important pacemaker components that reduces costs by 25% and waiting/transportation time by 90%. The process itself drastically improves, almost a step-change improvement. That’s what the removal of the Eisenhower Tree means to players at The Masters.

eisenhower tree augusta national

The Eisenhower Tree on the left side outstretched into the 17th fairway at Augusta National Golf Club. (Augusta National/Getty Images)

The Eisenhower Tree, also known as Ike’s Tree, was named for former President Dwight Eisenhower. President Eisenhower was one of the most famous and influential members of Augusta National Golf Club and played the course frequently after his presidency. A large tree, a 65 foot tall lolbolly pine, stretching over the 17th fairway was a constant victim of Eisenhower’s tee shots on 17. This pine tree’s existence so often drew the ire of Eisenhower that in a 1956 members meeting he proposed the tree be cut down. His request was denied but the nickname of the Eisenhower Tree certainly stuck.

And Eisenhower wasn’t alone. The tree has been a part of history of The Masters and has dictated tee shot approaches and plans for many tournament players looking to avoid getting caught in the rough and poor lies resulting from hitting the Eisenhower Tree. Players looking to preserve scores and play safe would angle their tee shots to the right of the fairway or maybe attempt to blow past or over the tree with a high tee shot. High risks sometimes come with high rewards and attempts at good scores on hole 17.

Augusta and the surrounding region were hit by a major ice storm this past winter, and unfortunately the storm was rough enough to damage the Eisenhower Tree significantly enough that it had to be removed.

eisenhower tree damaged

The Eisenhower Tree was so damaged by the 2014 ice storm in Augusta that it had to be removed. (Augusta Chronicle)

No tree has taken its place and now the 17th fairway is wide open with no large specimen of foliage to block the path of a straight drive.

Now if scores don’t improve on the 17th hole during The Masters, it won’t be due to the loss of the Eisenhower Tree. The Masters, perhaps the most significant golf tournament in the world, is often won or lost by a single stroke over four rounds.All players now have to change up their strategy to account for alterations to the 17th hole.

For those who have had a chance to play the course since the tree’s demise in February, the lack of a towering pine presents a much different visual from the tee.

“It looks good to me. It’s nice,” said defending Masters champion Adam Scott. “It’s a little more open, obviously. It looks very good off the tee. It’s a nice look. It’s still a very narrow fairway where the drive finishes. I don’t know if it’s going to play easier. We’ll see at the end of the week when I guess all those averages are calculated.

How will the loss of the Eisenhower Tree play out? Like Adam Scott says, we’ll find out this week.

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