By Neville Leck Last updated: 27th August 2012
The history of golf at Crans-sur-Sierra where this week's Omega European Open is to be played, can be traced back to 1905.
This was the year when Arnold Lunn, who owned both the company of the same name and the Palace Hotel, was persuaded that the pastureland to the west of the hotel was ideally suited for a golf course.
No sooner said than done: Freemantle and Gedge - both Englishmen - were commissioned to mark out the course and the first nine holes were opened in 1906 to be followed by the second nine in 1908.
Until 1914, golf was virtually the prerogative of the British gentry, but when the First World War broke out, the British all left the "Haut Plateau".
The golf course lay abandoned, and it was not until 1921 that the sport received a new lease of life. Thanks to two hoteliers, Elysée Bonvin (Hotel du Golf) and Albert Bonvin (Beauséjour).
A nine-hole course was laid out for hotel guests, with the start and finish at the Hotel du Golf.
In 1924, the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club was founded, with René Payot as its first President and in 1926, a project was launched to extend the current course to 18 holes.
The full 18-hole course, with the start and finish on their present site, was inaugurated in July of the following year, but shortly after the opening, however, the English architect Harry Nicholson was commissioned to make improvements.
This resulted in a large number of greens being remodelled, and the addition of several bunkers, thus creating the overall layout at Plan-Bramois that remained unchanged until 1997.
At the end of 1995, the famed Spanish star Severiano Ballesteros was commissioned to carry out various changes to the course aimed at making it more challenging to the professionals taking part in the European Masters and even more attractive for the numerous amateurs travelling to this Valais resort.
However, the improvements made by the Spanish expert were hardly completed when fate intervened to threaten the course.
Following the 1997 Canon European Masters, there was a rumpus over the greens and there was no mistaking the fact that they were inadequate. It was essential to change them if the European Open was to continue to be played there.
Ballesteros was thus commissioned to carry out this "compulsory" work on the site, which was to begin in 1997.
By the summer of 1999, Plan-Bramois was ready to offer an entirely new face to those visiting the "Haut-Plateau" with the course not only boasting completely new greens with various contours and slopes, but also new tee boxes and obstacles that had been added or modified.
Ballesteros did not hesitate to modify the former layout of the course, and some holes have undergone a complete transformation.
HISTORY OF the SWISS/EUROPEAN OPEN
The Omega European Open started life as the Swiss Open in 1923 and retained that title though good years and lean years until 1983 when it became the European Open.
Omega came on board as title sponsors in 2001 and remain so today as the 2008 edition of the European Open heads for Thursday's opening tee-off.
The Swiss Open was played for the first time at Engadine-Samedan, Switzerland's first golf course which opened in 1898, and came to Crans-Montana for the first time in 1939 when the championship's first 72-hole-event was won by the French professional Fifi Cavalo.
The Second World War killed of the championship, but since it's rebirth in 1948, Crans-Montana's Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierra has been the Omega European Open's permanent home.
Since the end of the seventies, the list of winners at Crans-sur-Sierra has included several major winners, among them Ballesteros (1977, 1978 and 1989) compatriot José Maria Olazábal (1986), the burly American Craig Stadler (1985), Zimbabwe's Nick Price (1980), England's Nick Faldo (1983) Welshman Ian Woosnam and more recently (2003) the big South African Ernie Els.
There are four courses at scenic Crans-Montana, all with magnificent mountain views, but with the exception of the Seve Ballesteros Course at Crans-sur-Sienna, they are all nine hole layouts, including one by Jack Nicklaus.
The Seve Ballesteros Course at Crans-sur-Sierra, the locals claim, is the finest golf course in the Alps.
At least 1'500 metres above the Rhone Valley, it's clean mountain air smells sweet and you can view some of the highest of the Alpine peaks, including the Matterhorn and Mont-Blanc from many points on the course..
It is in this magnificent mountain paradise that the pioneers of golf created the first course in 1906.
With time more and more greens were added to this magnificent mountain golfing paradise and today the best players in the world succumb to the natural beauty of the place.
Numerous Golfing magazines have included this famous par-72, 6341 metre, 18-hole championship layout in their lists of the most beautiful courses in the world.
To enjoy a hole by hole tour of this spectacular mountain-top course on the official Crans-sur-Sierre website click here then click on 'par course' and then 'discover the route'.
Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre, which is surrounded by some magnificent hotels, has a wide range of first class facilities.
At the clubhouse
- A high quality Restaurant and Bar
- A large terrace with wonderful views
- Modern locker rooms
- A large outdoor swimming pool
- A driving range with 50 stations
- 3 Putting greens
- 2 Approach greens
- 3 Practice bunkers
- Lessons by qualified professionals
A pro shop
It offers a wide range of golfing equipment and apparel
- Caddies for hire
- Trolleys for hire
- Electric carts for hire
- golf clubs for hire
Green-Fees for adults at Severiano Ballesteros Championship Golf Course vary widely depending on the time of the year and whether you are a member of San-sur-Sierra, an associate member or a guest.
CONTACT THE CLUB
Phone & fax:
Reception / reservations :+41 (0)27 485 97 97
Fax secrétariat :+41 (0)27 485 97 98
Caddy-master :+41 (0)27 485 97 91
Restaurant Club-House Le Sporting :+41 (0)27 481 11 77
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