For the last three years, when April Fools' Day came around, Jay Blasi got a phone call or e-mail saying the only tree at Chambers Bay...

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For the last three years, when April Fools’ Day came around, Jay Blasi got a phone call or e-mail saying the only tree at Chambers Bay, with the waters of Puget Sound as its picturesque backdrop, had fallen down.

It wasn’t a joke when Blasi, one of the Tacoma golf course’s designers, got a call saying a catcher’s mitt-sized chunk of the tree had been hacked away.

“We’re all just crossing our fingers and hoping some way and somehow the integrity of the tree can survive,” Blasi said Thursday.

Course general manager Matt Allen said arborists are more optimistic about saving the tree than expected.

Vandalism to “Lone Fir” was discovered by maintenance crews on their early morning rounds Wednesday. A security person was on duty but was on a different part of the property when the vandalism occurred, according to a pro shop employee.

Tony Tipton, project manager for Chambers Bay, said about 3 inches of the tree — roughly 20 percent of its diameter — was hacked away.

The vandal or vandals also knocked over and broke signs on the course.

Pierce County has offered up a $1,000 reward for information in the case.

The Douglas fir sits behind the 15th green and near the 16th tee of the highly acclaimed public course that opened last summer.

Chambers Bay, which has been awarded the 2015 U.S. Open, was designed to be a links course from the beginning, with no trees on the course itself. But Blasi and his colleagues working for famed course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. noticed the fir tree had some personality.

The tree has since become a signature image of the course.

“Every time I made a trip up there, I made a stop by the tree,” Blasi said. “It really kind of turned into an icon.”

Times staff reporter Craig Smith contributed to this report.