ASGCA members talk Eisenhower Tree

By |  March 11, 2014 0 Comments

Just got my confirmation for the Golf Writers dinner during Masters week! Now I’ve got Augusta on my mind…

So I’m wondering: what will that tee shot look like on No. 17 this year? Will there be an empty space where the Eisenhower Tree once stood? Or will the club have replaced it with an Eisenhower Jr. Tree? Maybe even something else?

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A view from the forward tee on No. 17 at Augusta National, taken in 2001. Photo courtesy Kirk Dolan.

I know how many Golfdom readers feel when it comes to “historical” trees on golf course. But c’mon! This is the Eisenhower Tree!

“It’s too historical (not to replace),” says David M. Dale, ASGCA, president of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Golfplan. “Alister MacKenzie would say you don’t design a golf hole around a tree, but… that tree is just too historical.”

Dale’s right-hand man and Golfplan’s VP, Kevin M. Ramsey, gives his partner a, “right on, brother,” on that thought.

“I remember when Pebble Beach lost their big pine and replaced it… I don’t know why Augusta wouldn’t do something similar. (The Eisenhower Tree) was a symbol,” Dale says. “Plus, Augusta National changes so much from year to year… it’s a big-budget golf course, it changes a lot already.”

But what about doing something different with that spot? (And no, I’m not suggesting a concessions stand.)

“As far as I’m concerned, let her go. I think it’s a good opportunity to do a nice cool MacKenzie style bunker,” says Andy Staples, ASGCA, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Staples Golf. “Trust me though, I’d understand that if I had a (club) president telling me that we needed to replace the tree I’d probably cave and do what the president wanted.”

We’ve got a few more weeks to see what No. 17 looks like at Augusta National. Dale will be there in person, and he knows what he wants to see.

“There is a heritage with this being a private club. I think you have to find a tree of similar character,” Dale says. “I like history. And you’re talking about a golf course that has more opportunity to do more for their golf course than any other.”

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