Eisenhower Tree removed from Augusta National after suffering storm damage

It sat proudly on the 17th hole as one of the most famous landmarks on the Augusta National golf course, but now the Eisenhower Tree has been removed after suffering storm damage during bad weather.

The tree lost most of its larger branches last week during an ice storm and was removed at the weekend.

Chairman of the Augusta National, which hosts the Masters, said in a statement: "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."

Former Open champion David Duval, who came within a whisker of winning the Masters on four separate occasions, added: "That tree made you really pay attention to where you driving it.

"It made for a very narrow tee shot. You either had to go up over it or around it."

Eisenhower was an Augusta member from 1948 until his death in 1969, and campaigned to have the tree removed in 1956 after hitting it several times. A bane for some perhaps, but the loss of this great tree is sure to bring a hollow feeling to the greens when players set off for the Masters.

Even Jack Nicklaus, six-time Masters champion, said he was sad to hear of the tree's untimely demise, despite his previous altercations with the historic pine. He said: "The Eisenhower Tree is such an iconic fixture and symbol of tradition at Augusta National," said Nicklaus. "It was such an integral part of the game and one that will be sorely missed.

"Over the years, it's come into play many, many times on the 17th hole. When I stood on the 17th tee, my first thought, always, was to stay away from Ike's Tree.

"I hit it so many times over the years that I don't care to comment on the names I called myself and the names I might have called the tree. Ike's Tree was a kind choice. But looking back, Ike's Tree will be greatly missed."