This famous shot under the famous 65-foot Eisenhower Tree in the 2009 Masters Tournament messed up Tiger Woods' right Achilles heel and caused him to miss two majors. The loblolly pine, which had guarded the left side of the 17th hole (440-yard par 4) about 210 yards from the tee, had messed up many a golfer at the Augusta National Golf Club, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He hit that tree so many times that he tried to throw his White House weight around at a board meeting and have the 100- to 125-year-old tree terminated. Chairman Cliff Roberts said nope and adjourned the meeting.
So the Eisenhower Tree prevailed as an icon of the course until last February when an ice storm did what Ike could not. The tree was damaged beyond repair and removed, which created national news leading up to and during 2014's first major. But in the two weeks since the tournament ended, The Masters has been all-but-mum about the fate of the wood.
"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," said Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament in February. "Rest assured, we will do both appropriately."
I called Augusta last week about the Ike Tree wood and was politely told by Melissa Lyle that, "I don't have any information on that that I can disclose."
I asked when that information will be released and was told: "I don't know."
Well, you can imagine how this information vacuum has sucked in all sorts of speculation — some serious and some that makes you shake your head and smile (see Will Ferrell's proposal for the pine).
I asked Bruce Kieffer of Kieffer Custom Furniture, Inc., in Edina, Minnesota, what he'd do with this precious wood. "The first thing I'd do — provided Augusta would even ask for my opinion — is walk through the clubhouse and see what might be needed in terms of furniture, like a sideboard or something," says Kieffer. "But the fact that pine is softwood is not a factor in making furniture. It's good to have hardwood for strength and durability, but softwood is also fine in most cases."
Chances are Augusta isn't hurting for a buffet, so members will have to get creative. If they ever ask, here are my top three ideas:
- Rocking chairs. Use Eisenhower Tree rocking chairs in the Butler Cabin when the past champion honors the new with the green jacket.
- Tee box benches. Allow the tree to remain on the course in the form of a bench at each tee box.
- Board room table. Since the tree got its name because of Ike's protestations at a board meeting — heck, he may have even pounded the board room table — turn the wood into a table that not only honors history but also stands for the high standards of The Masters.
Those are my ideas, but what are yours? Do tell on this forum.