T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Tom Watson on Ike's Tree
Ike's Tree -- or, the Eisenhower Tree -- which sat 210 yards from the 17th tee at Augusta National down the left side of the hole, was removed over the weekend after it was destroyed in an ice storm.
The tree was named after former President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a member of Augusta National and often had trouble getting around the tree -- so much so he wanted it removed from the grounds. That's something Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts refused to do and hence the tree bore Eisenhower's name.
On Wednesday morning, I had a chat with Watson -- a two-time Masters winner with 15 career top-10 finishes at Augusta National -- and asked him about Ike's Tree.
"It wasn't just Ike's Tree that they lost," he said. "It was also the tree behind that one that was supposed to replace Ike's Tree if anything ever happened. Both had to be removed. Knowing the folks at Augusta National, though, something appropriate will be in place by Masters week."
With that, I figured it was worth asking Watson as well.
"Oh, I don't know," Watson said. "I guess I'd make tee markers out of it. Better yet, maybe make a bench to put out in front of the Eisenhower Cabin. That would be cool."
The Eisenhower Cabin was built in the early 1950s after Eisenhower's election as U.S. President. It was built to specs provided by the Secret Service, since it was built specifically for the President and Mrs. Eisenhower.
The Eisenhower Cabin, located left of the 10th tee at Augusta National, is one of 10 cabins on the club's property.
A trove of family mementos remains in place, including small, framed photographs of homes in which Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, lived over the years, in places as far ranging as Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Paris, France; and the Panama Canal Zone. The White House, too. Given his itinerant life as a military commander, followed by his years in Washington, Eisenhower went decades without feeling as if he had a proper home. Augusta National came to fill that role for him and the first lady.
The cabin has a small kitchen and a spacious living room, where a card table speaks to another traditional passion of Augusta National members – bridge. The dining room sports a sweeping view of Ike’s Pond and the Par 3 Course in back. A photograph shows Ike and Mamie walking together outside the cabin, and an oil painting he made of the par-3 No. 16 hole hangs above a fireplace. There is also a solarium, in which a photograph on the wall shows former Secretary of State George Shultz and National Security Adviser Robert "Bud" McFarlane with President Ronald Reagan, who had come to the club to play golf. Taken in that very room in 1983, it records the moment when a pajama-clad commander-in-chief gave the go-ahead for the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
Based on all the history, it seems Watson's spontaneous answer would be a fantastic idea.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.