In the world of sport, one unexpected player has made it to every big game this year: the weather.
From polar vortex predictions for Super Bowl 48 to the vacation-like warmth of the Winter Olympics, weather has factored into the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat at each of this year’s big ticket sporting events –and now, it’s making an impact on the golf course. And we mean THE golf course, of course -that of Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.
In February, after the South experienced one of the worst ice storms in many years, weather damaged the nearly 125-year-old Eisenhower Tree that famously stood watch on Augusta National’s 17th fairway. And this time, no amount of cable, which has helped to hold it together for years, could keep the pine from falling.
“The loss of the Eisenhower Tree is difficult news to accept,” Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National and the Masters, says in a statement. “We obtained opinions from the best arborists available and, unfortunately, were advised that no recovery was possible.” The loblolly pine was a defining feature of the 17th hole, rising 65 feet above the tee, just 210 yards away. “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.”
The story goes that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a club member from 1948 until his death in 1969, hit into the tree so often, he campaigned to have it removed –only to be ruled out of order for his request at the club’s 1956 governor’s meeting, which was promptly adjourned. The pine became known as Eisenhower’s Tree and it, along with the magnolia trees lining the club’s entrance and the “big oak tree” behind the clubhouse have become beloved landmarks.
“I can report that the golf course sustained no major damage otherwise,” Mr. Payne says. “We are now open for Member play and we will be unaffected in our preparations for the 2014 Masters Tournament.”
Is the weather expected to make an appearance at this year’s Masters? Perhaps. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Georgia is expected to enjoy a warmer than normal April, with near-normal rainfall … although thunderstorms are predicted from the third to the 11th. Contact Bullseye Event Group to make your predictions –we mean, your reservations today!