AS the golfing world mourns the removal of the famous Eisenhower’s Tree from the left of the 17th fairway at Augusta National due to damage from an ice storm last week, an offer has been made via this column to help the Georgia club in paying tribute to an “iconic symbol in its history”.
It has come from the private Dalmeny Golf Club, which is now home of golf’s sole tree named after Dwight D Eisenhower, the one at the South Queensferry course having been planted by the former US President during a visit to Edinburgh to receive the freedom of the city in 1946.
“If this had happened to our one, we’d be devastated as well,” said club secretary Wullie Ruffle after hearing the fate of arguably the most famous tree in golf. “It would be good to keep the Eisen-hower connection going at Augusta, so we would be quite happy to send some Acorns from our tree over to them.”
While hit by bad weather itself over the years, debris from the Dalmeny tree was used for a hand-crafted barrel given to Medinah officials at the 2012 Ryder Cup to mark Eisenhower’s connection with the Chicago club and a similar one is set to be presented to Tom Watson at Gleneagles to honour a Kansas connection between him and Eisenhower.
Personally, I’m glad the timing of my first Augusta visit last April allowed me to appreciate the challenge the loblolly pine, which sat about 210 yards down the left of the fairway, set and, to put the sad news in perspective, it’s a bit like Turnberry losing its iconic lighthouse or the R&A Clubhouse turning into a heap of rubble behind the first tee on the Old Course at St Andrews.
It would be nice to think Augusta would give consideration to Dalmeny’s thoughtful offer and one day another Eisenhower’s Tree will grow in its place. But, with this year’s Masters just seven weeks away, the 2014 event will certainly take place without an absent friend.