Switzerland’s oldest golf club, Engadine Golf Club, Celebrates 125th Anniversary in 2018
St Moritz, Switzerland, March 22: Switzerland’s oldest golf club, the Engadine Golf Club, established in 1893 and located in the picturesque Engadine Valley, will this year celebrate its 125th anniversary with a number of commemorative golf events whilst also looking back on its rich, eventful history.
The Engadine Golf Club not only has a fascinating story to tell but the fact that the golf club is home to two separate, very different golf courses located a mile apart and run by a single organisation, Golf Engadin St. Moritz (www.engadin-golf.ch), sets it apart from most traditional golf clubs.
The 125-year-old Samedan course is an ancient, links-style parkland layout that runs along the flat valley floor, meandering through streams and characterized by broad fairways flanked by giant larch trees whilst its younger sister course at Zuoz-Madulain, opened in 2003, offers challenging elevation changes, undulating fairways fringed by meadow flowers and receptive greens as it weaves its way along the side of the mountain and between the pine forests.
Situated on some of the highest terrain in the country and within a UNESCO World Heritage site, both Samedan and Zuoz offer stunning views of the towering Alpine mountains beyond and many of the charming villages of the Engadine Valley.
To mark the 125th milestone and ensure an unforgettable year for the club, Golf Engadin St Moritz is hosting a series of golf events over the summer as well as staging two exhibitions to showcase the unique history of the club. Preparations for the anniversary actually began in 2016 when the club decided to plant 125 sapling larch trees on the Samedan and Zuoz courses.
With some of the existing larch trees even older than Samedan, 125 club members sponsored the planting of a single larch each to guarantee the future of both courses and their characteristic larch populations. This sustainability project will be recognised at the Anniversary Tournament on August 1 when Mixed Foursomes will be played, just as it would have been some 125 years ago.
An Anniversary Dinner will then take place that evening at the famous Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. However the first event to launch the summer celebrations will take place on June 6 when the club’s partners, local dignitaries, hotels and nearby golf clubs will be welcomed to the Samedan clubhouse for a look behind the scenes at Engadine Golf and to view an exhibition of over 20 posters located around the Samedan golf complex depicting the club’s history. This will be followed by the St Moritz Gold Cup in July, the Swiss Senior Amateur Championship the week after that and the three-day GolfersChoice Engadin ProAm over both golf courses in August.
The Engadine Golf Club will also be the theme of an exhibition at the Design Gallery St Moritz from June to December. Along the famous giant escalator from Lake St Moritz up to Badrutt’s Palace, 31 posters will portray the times gone by at the club as well as the development of golf in the Engadine. Finally a 20-year-old single malt whisky by Glentauchers in just 246 numbered bottles, 125 of which come with a matching decanter designed by Robert Niederer, has also been produced to mark the jubilee. This being a nod to the fact that at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century, sandwiches were washed with whisky for breakfast at Samedan! For more information on Golf Engadin St Moritz, go to www.engadin-golf.ch
History of the Engadine Golf Club
The story of the Engadine Golf Club began in the summer of 1889 when hotel pioneer, Conradin von Flugi, undertook a journey to England with the intention of researching the possibility of constructing a golf course in the Engadine Valley.
The following year a 9-hole course known as the St. Moritz Golf Club, located between today’s railway station and St. Moritz Bad, was first mentioned in the Engadine Year Book of 1890. Thus it was the people of St. Moritz and their guests who first gave a home to golf in Switzerland.
When the game took the Engadine by storm, it came as no surprise that the town of Samedan granted permission to the Hotel Bernina to build an 18-hole golf course in the Champagna plane.
The Director of the Bernina, Angelo Franconi, became the first Honorary Secretary of the newly-founded Engadine Golf Club in 1893, the same summer the Engadine Championships took place for the first time. In the following spring a simple shelter was built in the shape of a chalet, served as the first club house.
With two golf clubs in the Engadine existing simultaneously with more or less the same memberships, it was not long before a merger between the two establishments took place. It also made a great deal of sense as St. Moritz had the funds and Samedan the territory. Joining forces meant that a proper club house could be built, sponsored by generous patrons!
Over the next few years the Club developed in leaps and bounds. In August 1904, for example, the General Assembly adopted new articles of association and rules and decided to join the Swiss Golf Association which had just been founded.
In the same summer the first Championships of Switzerland were held at Samedan. These championships and the ones which took place in the Engadine in following years were regularly won by English players, given their already strong association with the region and the fact that the golf course was still the reserve of hotel guests and tourists, with the locals unable to join.
Everything however came to a sudden and dramatic halt at the outbreak of WWI in the summer of 1914.
It was only in the 20’s and 30’s that sport returned to the valley. Once again, regular tournaments took place but alongside the English there were now German, French, Italian and even Swiss players competing for the prizes.
Tourism once again came almost to a standstill with the advent of the Second World War. Nevertheless, there were tournaments every summer, binding players and club representatives into one big golfing family with the common goal of retaining the sport in the Valley.
Then in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the golf course in Samedan became a popular meeting place for personalities from industry, politics and even show business, with the likes of the Aga Khan, the Duke of Windsor and laterly Sean Connery (aka James Bond) regularly playing in the Engadine.
Another turning point in the development of the club took place in the late 40s. Several local caddies, enjoying plenty of practical instruction and experience out on the course, became proficient at the game and excellent players themselves. However, the club refused to accept them as members, remaining an exclusive association of guests, their hosts and friends, making it almost impossible for anybody else to join.
This led to the foundation of the Samedan Golf Club in 1949 which was accepted into the Association Suisse de Golf in the 70’s. As a result, two golf clubs made use of the course in Samedan.
With the opening of a second 18-hole course in Zuoz-Madulain, the golfing capacity in the Engadine Valley was increased to 36 holes and a third golf club, the Zuoz Golf Club, was established.
Soon after Golf Engadin St Moritz AG was founded in order to operate the two golf facilities, with all three clubs were entitled to use both courses. By the end of 2007, the Samedan Golf Club and the Zuoz Golf Club were incorporated into the Engadine Golf Club. This merger led to the formation of one of the biggest golf clubs in Switzerland, with a total of over 1,300 members.
Still today members of the Engadine Golf Club are entitled to play at Samedan and Zuoz-Madulain, with the two courses run by the Golf Engadin St. Moritz AG.
(This news story on www.pargolf.in is brought to you by Dr. Lal PathLabs Ltd. official sponsor of Indo Nippon Golf Cup 2018)