Gaston Barras celebrated his 50th anniversary as President of the Organising Committee by receiving an engraved silver trophy from Angel Gallardo, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of The European Tour, at the closing ceremony of the Omega European Masters at Crans Montana.
Barras, an Honorary Life Vice President of The European Tour, was also enjoying his 34th champion’s presentation as the President of the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club after American David Lipsky became the winner of a tournament first staged as the Swiss Open in 1923, and played 68 times in succession at Crans Montana since 1939.
Gallardo, who won in 1973 and 1974 the Memorial Olivier Barras tournament played at Crans Montana for the 50th time in June, said: “Gaston Barras has overseen the growth and development of a fantastic tournament which is one of the oldest and most prestigious on The European Tour International Schedule. He has been the irrepressible driving force of the event and instrumental in welcoming many great champions over the years to this wonderful venue 5,000 feet high in the Alps. The European Tour is delighted to mark our long friendship with Gaston, whose lifelong passion for the game remains undiminished, and we look forward to celebrating many more memorable milestones together.”
Barras has greeted every champion on the 18th green at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club since 1954 – he became President in 1964 - including no fewer than ten Major champions – Bobby Locke (1954), Kel Nagle (1961), Bob Charles (1962, 1974), Seve Ballesteros (1977, 1978, 1989), Nick Price (1980), Ian Woosnam (1982), Sir Nick Faldo (1983), Craig Stadler (1985), José María Olazábal (1986) and Ernie Els (2003) – and ten European Tour Number Ones, Luke Donald, Dale Hayes, Robert Karlsson, Colin Montgomerie, Ronan Rafferty, Lee Westwood, Ballesteros, Els, Faldo and Woosnam.
Barras, who began his love affair with golf when he caddied at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club in 1939 at the age of eight, said: “I am very proud of our long association with The European Tour and this presentation is very special for me. Every years it makes me very proud to play our tournament as part of The European Tour International Schedule, and also now the Asian Tour, but I do sometimes wonder where the years have gone!
“The Swiss Open was first played at Crans-sur-Sierre in 1939 with a budget of 5,000 francs – today it is more than 12 million! This is in part because of the changes we have made to the course, especially over the last two years, which we know that the players appreciate. For us it is important to keep attracting the very best players to the tournament and with Omega, who have been with us since 2001, we will continue to grow and cement its position as one of the most prestigious events in the world.”
Married to Odette with two sons, Christian and Franςois, Barras was a graduate of the School of Commerce in Sierre and he founded l’Agence Immobilière Barras in 1954. He was President of the International Golf Fellowship of the Rotary Club from 1985-1988.