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Original Issue

Ike's Last Stand

The iconic Augusta tree that tormented the Supreme Commander meets its match

The Eisenhower Tree guarded the left side of the fairway at Augusta National's par-4 17th hole the way the Green Monster guards leftfield at Fenway Park. But an ice storm that ripped through north Georgia in February damaged the 65-foot loblolly pine so severely that the club was forced to cut it down. Named for President Dwight Eisenhower, an inveterate hacker and Augusta member who wanted to have it cut down because he had a penchant for hitting into the branches, Ike's tree will be missed at next month's Masters.

In recent years golf's big hitters have blown it over the Eisenhower Tree with relative ease, but it remained an important strategic and historic part of the course—especially for members, guests and low-ball hitters. Even Tiger Woods mishit a drive that wound up under the tree in 2011's third round.

The tree will be replaced in some way, though it's not yet clear when and how. Club officials will first study data on how the hole plays without it. "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 Augusta chairman Billy Payne. "Rest assured, we will do both appropriately." Of course.

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The Tee

The Eisenhower Tree stuck out about 200 yards down the 17th fairway like a man stepping off a city curb to hail a cab. Its greatest value of late was as a visual intimidation, making the fairway look much narrower than it actually is.

The Landing

The tree's absence will leave the fairway fairly wide open, allowing Masters contestants to grip it and rip it off the tee. It will be easier to hit a solid drive that reaches the top of a rise in the fairway, making the second shot much simpler.

The Option

Instead of planting a new tree, Augusta could build deep-faced bunkers in the landing zone (like the nasty ones at the 5th hole), forcing players to be more precise with their drivers. The only other hole on the National's back nine with a fairway bunker in play is the 18th.

Perception Par

Player profiles

REPUCOM MINES surveys to produce analytics on the public's view of golf. For instance, by total fans golf is most popular in the U.S. (50.9 million) and China (25.8), but as a percentage of population, South Korea (33%) and Ireland (33%) tie for the lead. The charts show how five top players rank in the U.S. in six categories.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]


38% [Bubba Watson]

98% [Tiger Woods]

40% [Rory McIlroy]

29% [Adam Scott]

73% [Phil Mickelson]


67% [Bubba Watson]

60% [Tiger Woods]

67% [Rory McIlroy]

71% [Adam Scott]

72% [Phil Mickelson]


71% [Bubba Watson]

59% [Tiger Woods]

71% [Rory McIlroy]

75% [Adam Scott]

76% [Phil Mickelson]


63% [Bubba Watson]

54% [Tiger Woods]

65% [Rory McIlroy]

68% [Adam Scott]

66% [Phil Mickelson]


69% [Bubba Watson]

49% [Tiger Woods]

69% [Rory McIlroy]

74% [Adam Scott]

75% [Phil Mickelson]


63% [Bubba Watson]

44% [Tiger Woods]

63% [Rory McIlroy]

68% [Adam Scott]

69% [Phil Mickelson]