Dalmeny golf club pines for Augusta tree

Wullie Ruffle at Augusta with the barrel he presented on behalf of Dalmeny membership.
Wullie Ruffle at Augusta with the barrel he presented on behalf of Dalmeny membership.
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Dalmeny Golf Club is looking to gift America’s famous Augusta National Golf Course some acorns.

If accepted, the offer will cement a bond between the tiny local golf club and its illustrious cousin across the Atlantic.

For Augusta National, home of famous Masters Tournament, and Dalmeny both have a hazard which links them.

Former president of the USA Dwight Eisenhower was a member of the Georgia course and the big tree alongside the 17th fairway was a feature which the famed politican eventually had named in his memory.

And, while in Edinburgh in 1946, Eisenhower planted a tree on the Dalmeny course. But the Eisenhower Tree at Augusta has fallen victim to the weather which is where the Dalmeny connection raises its head again.

Augusta’s tree, a loblolly pine, was estimated to be 100 to 125 years old but it was so extensively damaged during an ice storm that it had to be removed from the course.

The Eisenhower link to the tree dates back to the time when the president was an Augusta National member between 1948 up until his death in 1969.

He played the course frequently during his presidency and was known to hit his tee shots at the tree and thus lobbied to have it removed.

At a club meeting in 1956, Augusta chairman Clifford Roberts ruled Eisenhower out of order and adjourned the meeting and the tree has been linked to him ever since.

When secretary of Dalmeny Golf Club, Wullie Ruffle, heard of the club’s loss, he contacted them to offer acorns from their Eisenhower Tree.

Their tree was planted by the former US president during a visit to Edinburgh to receive the freedom of the city in 1946.

Wullie said: “If this had happened to our tree, we would be devastated as well.

‘‘It would be good to keep the Eisenhower connection going at Augusta, so we would be quite happy to send some acorns from our tree over to them.”

Two years ago after high winds damaged the Eisenhower Tree on Dalmeny estate, the Queensferry club gifted a hand-crafted barrel, made from the fallen branches, to Medinah officials at the 2012 Ryder Cup to mark Eisenhower’s connection with the Chicago club.

A similar one is set to be presented to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in September to honour a Kansas connection between him and Eisenhower.

Wullie added: ‘‘We offered to send an acorn or said we could propagate one of them and send over a sapling but there are quarantine laws and we would require a permit. We still await a reply to our offer.’’