Gaston Barras, the irrepressible driving force behind the Omega European Masters, has received the accolade of Honorary Life Vice President of The European Tour on the eve of this year’s tournament at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Monsieur Barras accepted his award from the Tour’s Chief Executive George O’Grady CBE at a reception following the official Pro-Am preceding the 64th edition of the Omega European Masters, which has been played at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club every year since 1948.
In fact, Gaston was only eight years old when he caddied in the first tournament to be played at Crans-sur-Sierre in 1939 and has been privileged to see every tournament hosted by the club in its long and illustrious history.
Born and brought up in Crans Montana, Gaston has, for many years, been a highly respected figure in the golfing community and a close and valued friend of The European Tour, both prior to the formation of the Tour in 1972 and in the 39 years since the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre became part of the newly-formed Tour’s International Schedule.
Gaston’s passion for, and commitment to, golf is unsurpassed. A member of the golf club committee at Crans-sur-Sierre since 1954, he has been President of the club since 1981 and has served the sport in Switzerland with great distinction in a number of other high ranking positions. From his first experience as a caddy in 1939, Gaston, now a member of The R&A, played in four Swiss Opens and played off a handicap of 1 at the peak of his game.
Married to Odette with two sons, Christian, who also works closely with his father in the organisation of the Omega European Masters, and François, who takes up the post as Swiss Consul General in New York next month, Gaston was a graduate of the School of Commerce in Sierre and he founded l’Agence Immobilière Barras in 1954.
He has been President of the Organising Committee of the European Masters since 1964 and a committee member of the Swiss Golf Association from 1969 to 1997, serving as President for the last six years of his tenure. He was also President of the World Council of the Rotary Club from 1985-1988.
O’Grady commented: “The European Tour is delighted that Gaston has accepted the award to become an Honorary Life Vice President of our Tour. It is a fitting award for a man who has made an immense contribution to European and Swiss golf.
“Behind every great championship is a team of people with the drive and ambition to achieve first class results. For over half a century, Gaston has shown outstanding leadership as President of the Organising Committee for the European Masters. Even in his 80th year his lifelong passion for the game remains undiminished. That is what makes this man so very special.”