The history of the European Masters
The Swiss Open, 1923…..
The Swiss Open has a long past behind it since the first time it was held in 1923. At that time there were only eleven golf courses in Switzerland. The one in Engadine-Samedan, the oldest amongst them all, created in 1898, organized the first editions of the tournament. Until 1938 the Open took place on the golf course in Engadine and then in Lucerne followed by Lausanne and Zurich Zumikon. In 1939 the Swiss Open took place on 72 holes for the first time in Crans-sur-Sierre and the winner was the French professional Fifi Cavalo.
Then the long night of the war came along and the Open was not revived again until 1948. From this date on, Crans-sur-Sierre has been the permanent site of this tournament to become the European Masters in 1983. An Italian, Ugo Grappasonni, was the winner of the first event after the war and won again in 1952. With the success of Aldo Casera (1950), Alfonso Angelini (1957 and 1966) and Roberto Bernardini (1968 and 1969), the Italian professionals made their mark in the history of the Swiss Open until the end of the sixties. They won again with Costantino Rocca in 1997.
The long list of winners is filled with prestigious names, such as Dai Rees, Harold Henning and Graham March; however the Swiss Open goes through some very difficult moments between the middle of the sixties until the end of the following decade due to a similar tournament taking place in England simultaneously. Participation and financial difficulties handicap the tournament and monopolize the discussions in 1978, to such an extent that hardly anyone even notices the success of the young golf prodigy, Seve Ballesteros, which practically goes unnoticed.
But times change quickly and in 1979 eighteen sponsors share the holes, the tournament budget exceeds 400'000 Swiss francs and well known foreign professionals participate in the competition. Since that day, the Swiss Open has never ceased to develop and grow to be one of the best known tournaments and most prestigious in Europe. To what does it owe this success? To the beauty of the site, the warm welcome of the local population and the unique atmosphere that a large resort in the mountains has to offer.
However, this success is obviously also due in large part to the financial support and the faithful partners of the tournament, beginning with Omega, the title sponsor since 2001. Credit Suisse, Ebel, Volvo, Canon (main sponsor from 1991 to 2000), Swiss(air), Swisscom, Moët & Chandon and others have also contributed to the fabulous development of the Open. To all of this is added, for the organization, the presence of a local close knit and efficient team, directed for many years by Gaston-F. Barras, and the support of the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club. The former Swiss Open, now the European Masters, is a sports operation, both commercial and touristic of great measure of which the budget exceeds ten million Swiss francs.
Since the end of the 1970s, the list of winners is rich with laureates of major Grand Slam tournaments like the Spaniards Severiano Ballesteros (1977, 1978 and 1989) and José Maria Olazabal (1986), the American Craig Stadler (1985), the professional from Zimbabwe, Nick Price (1980) or the British, Nick Faldo (1983) and Ian Woosnam (1982).