For years, the Eisenhower Tree, better known to golf fans as Ike's Tree, has been one of the most widely recognized landmarks at the Masters on the 17th hole.
Following an ice storm that devastated the state of Georgia, the famous pine was removed over the weekend, according to John Boyette of The Augusta Chronicle. Augusta National and Masters chairman Billy Payne spoke about the decision, per Boyette:
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.
While the historic change might be devastating to fans, the last part of Payne's prepared statement proves that the memory of the tree will live on forever.
Mike O'Malley of Golf Digest even suggested that Augusta National should use the wood to make something commemorating Ike's Tree:
You KNOW Augusta National will save the wood from Ike's Tree and do something memorable with it. Suggestions? http://t.co/Djls3OQCYA— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) February 16, 2014
O'Malley also shared how situations like this have been dealt with in the past:
How to replace the Eisenhower Tree? Here's what Pebble Beach did at its 18th hole: http://t.co/tENeLKZK8A— Mike O'Malley (@GD_MikeO) February 16, 2014
The Eisenhower Tree was named after Dwight Eisenhower, the country's 34th President. The tree gained popularity after Eisenhower was known for hitting golf balls off of it so often that he even campaigned to have it removed, according to the Associated Press.
The landmark was beloved by nearly every player on the PGA Tour and fans of the game alike. Just the imagery of Ike's Tree gave fans the knowledge that they were watching the Masters, which will make it hard to replace.
Bubba Watson, who made one of the most famous shots in Masters history during his 2012 win, spoke fondly about the tree, according to Randall Mell of the Golf Channel:
Bubba Watson on removal of Ike's tree: "Let's be honest, that was never in my way ... It's a historic tree, but I never had a problem w/ it— Randall Mell (@RandallMellGC) February 17, 2014
Should Ike's Tree be replaced?
While the loss is a devastating one right now for fans of the Masters and those who have visited or played at Augusta National Golf Club, the slow growth of new trees will eventually mark a new landscape for the emerging fanbase.
But whether it's Tommy Aaron's lost ball or the simple camera shot panning the landmark during Masters coverage, the golf community will have some fond memories of Ike's Tree for years to come.
It has long been rumored that the tree could be cut down, but that doesn't lessen the pain for those with a deep connection to the famed conifer.
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Editor's note: A previous version of this article displayed an image of another tree at Augusta. We regret the error.