Chairman Billy Payne has hinted that the famous Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole at Augusta National could be replaced.
The 65ft loblolly pine was around 210 yards from the tee on the lefthand side of the par-four hole and named after former President Dwight D Eisenhower, who hit it so often he asked, unsuccessfully, for it to be removed.
It was eventually removed in February 2014 after suffering serious damage in an ice storm, but Payne said a new version is being developed after two grafts and a seedling from the original were preserved.
“While we all know the Eisenhower Tree is irreplaceable in terms of its historical significance, I am pleased to announce that we have been successful, so far, in preserving this famous tree’s genetics,” Payne said.
“Not surprisingly, they have already become some of our most loved and cherished possessions here at Augusta National.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 8, 2015
“And while we learned last year that the absence of Ike’s tree from the 17th fairway did not statistically impact the scoring average of the hole, who knows what the future holds or what future chairmen might decide to do with these priceless specimens.
“For now we watch, we wait, and we remember all of the many stories surrounding this revered part of our history.”
Last year six-time champion Nicklaus said he did not think the tree should be replaced, although fellow honorary starter Arnold Palmer was in favour.
“I look at the area, it does look a little naked. It’s not only Ike’s tree, but Little Ike and a couple other trees were gone,” Nicklaus said. “But they really had no effect on the play of the golf tournament.”
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